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Why Should Mums Have to Choose How Present They Are In Their Children’s Lives?

This weekend is Mother’s Day and across the UK for those who are still fortunate to have their mums, or a mother figure in their lives, there will be flowers and celebrations by way of thanks.

Because let’s face it our mums are really special and it’s only when we become parents ourselves that we realise how much they have done for us, and in many cases, continue to do so.

When I was growing up it was the accepted norm that parents would split the work-life balance with Dad’s going out to work and Mum’s being around to look after us as children. My Mum also managed to re-train as a teacher so that she could be around for us in the school holidays. She, of course, made it look easy that she did this. And when you’re little you never question how or why things are the way they are, you just accept them.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the WMA

It’s only now as a Mum myself that I fully appreciate just how much my Mum gave up career wise to ensure that her family came first. Having worked for years in a career both as a Journalist and Communications professional I ask why anyone should be expected to give up being as present as they would like to be for their children?

Because that is the reality that so many mums are now faced with. They are either extremely lucky and have flexible working that is actually flexible, or they have to rely on others for wrap around care to ensure their child gets to and from school on time. But with this comes the inherent guilt of not being able to be as present as they would like or being able to attend every school play or event that’s laid on.

But it’s the fact that nowadays we have to choose how present we are in our children’s lives that gets to me. Surely, it would be better for everyone if we are able to be there for our sons and daughters as and when they need us.

Don’t get me wrong, some employers are brilliant and fully embrace flexible working and should be held up as shining examples because they get that mums have dual roles that don’t just end when they leave the office for the day.

Equally, the thought of not working for me would just feel wrong. Ever since I stepped foot into our local bakery for my first Saturday job at the age of 14, I’ve worked. And I love it.

But surely there has to be a way for Mums to not feel they have to make this choice.

This is why so many women are stepping away from the workplace. So many highly intelligent, qualified, smart women who are now finding a way to make everything work for themselves by going freelance or by starting up their own businesses. Because that’s the way they can work towards the freedom lifestyle that they crave. They no longer want to be a slave to their nine to five roles or feel like they have to be seen in the office, just because they are seen to be.

All of the Mums I know with a job are far more productive when they’re given the support and trust of their employers to work from home or have a mix of both. They work smarter because they have to, and they appreciate the trust that has been placed in them. They might complete their work at different times to others, but they will never miss a deadline and as a result, they’re incredibly focused.

So on this Mother’s Day when we celebrate everything that our Mum’s do for us, please remember this. Your Mum has given up so much for you to be able to do what you’re doing right now. She may well have made it look easy, but somewhere along the line tough decisions were made. She might have taken a pay cut to spend more time with you, she might have found a job that worked around school hours, she may even have made the hard choice that another family member / Nanny would help out more than she would have liked.

But these are choices she has had to make. Not necessarily choices she wanted to make.

And there’s an army of incredibly talented, strong, smart professional women who right now are feeling the injustice of it all. Why should they have to choose? I don’t know the answer to this I just know that when all is said and done, it feels really unfair.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Not Having Enough Time…

Dear Working Mum, when was the last time you found you had enough time in a day to get everything done?

By that I mean, when you were able to seamlessly tick off all the items on your to do list, to catch up with everything around the home and to juggle a high pressured project or five at work at the same time?

I’d love to know the answer to why we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything, but for some reason we do. And why do we set expectations that everything will be completed to absolute perfection and that it will all run smoothly?

Rowley the Founder of the Working Mum Association
Nicola J Rowley, the Founder of the Working Mum Association

The fact is, good enough is enough when it comes to so many things. For me, the thing that’s noticeably dropped since I became a working mum is the tidiness of our home. I’m by no means a domestic goddess but I used to at least know where everything was, and there was a semblance of order.

But for now, I think it’s the least of my concerns.

At the top of my list of my priorities is my family’s health and well-being, then work and then everything else besides. Each of us will look at our lives in a different way and try and balance as much as we can. But we’re only human and so if we drop one of those many balls that we’re juggling it’s ok. And it’s also ok to admit when we’re not ok too.

Please don’t beat yourself up over a forgotten PE kit or a missed payment for World Book Day.

These are all things that can be rectified – but your health and well-being cannot.

I’ve found that getting up earlier than everyone else even for just 45 minutes every day, makes a real difference to how my day pans out. I have a chance to sit and reflect, to cram in 10 minutes of regular exercise and to journal.

But I get that it’s not for everyone. And if your child or children have had you up and down like a yo yo in the middle of the night, you’re going to crave all the extra rest you can get.

The other thing is that by the time your little ones are finally in bed, the last thing you want to do is to continue working again. Unfortunately for many of us, this is the reality and the flipside to having a flexible employer or being able to run our own businesses. There’s no choice, additional hours have to be put in so you’re meeting client demands or deadlines. But when you reach the stage when you can outsource some of the work, please make this a priority.

For some of you, that may mean hiring a cleaner, a Virtual Assistant or both. Manage the little time that you do have to make things as streamlined as possible. Doing an internet grocery shop to cut down on the amount of time spent traipsing through the supermarket aisles can be a quick win. Although if you’re anything like me, in those early months and years, if I’m honest I used to enjoy the escapism it provided.

Try as much as possible to get things sorted the night before. Packed lunches should be made at the same time whilst you’re cooking dinner, the washing should be going simultaneously and then drying overnight so it’s ready for the morning. We’re not juggling superstars for nothing!

Working Mum Association image for lack of time for working mums Nicola J Rowley

This way at least, when you finally get to sit down and have that much craved YOU time, it really is that. With no distractions no little niggles in the back of your mind that something still needs to be done.

This way at least, when you finally get to sit down and have that much craved YOU time, it really is that. With no distractions no little niggles in the back of your mind that something still needs to be done.

And in between all of the things you need to get through, being able to carve out just 10 minutes a day before you go to bed just for yourself is really important. It should also become non-negotiable. Set the boundaries, and try and time block any activities so you’re able to effectively do as much as you can, but with the understanding that you time is just as important.

And never be afraid to say no to someone or something that will add to your workload, either in the office or at home.

If you take on too much you will just end up feeling overwhelmed and then your health could suffer.

Hopefully some of the above will help you have some more time in your day.

Please just remember you’re doing a brilliant job juggling everything all at the same time. So be kind, and treat yourself whenever you can, because let’s face it, you deserve it… x

PS if you would like to join a supportive community of like-minded working mums, please visit our Facebook Group for the Working Mum Association

Supporting Each Other…

Why supporting each other is important…

Sometimes we get so caught up in being busy that it’s easy to miss what else is going on around us.

We miss the fact that a fellow working mum is struggling, or could really do with a shoulder to cry on, or just a simple cup of coffee.

And yet there are times, and will no doubt be times in the future when we would all like to feel that we have that support.

It’s one of the main reasons that I started The Working Mum Association in the first place; so that working mums everywhere have a place that they can find inspiration, support and encouragement. In short, now that you have found us, you will never be alone.

And it doesn’t matter what stage of the journey you are at. Each one presents itself with its own unique challenges. So whether you’re a mum just returning to work from maternity leave, or your children are in their teens, please look out for your fellow working mums. Support and help them where you can, and you will find that support and help will come back ten-fold.

Together, we can build an amazing community of like-minded women because together, we truly can become unstoppable.

Beating the Overwhelm…

Sometimes things can feel as if they’re getting too much. I know that I certainly feel this way at the moment but on my way into work this morning I made a conscious decision and I hope that it will in somehow help you if you’re reading this now.

I started to run through a list of everything that I’m grateful for.

My gorgeous little boy, hubby, the fact that we will be going on a holiday of a lifetime soon, all of these amazing things.

And yes I am stressed at the moment. There is a lot going on all at once and demands are being placed on me, which I feel to a certain extent are unfair.

But by refocusing on the good things, the positive things, it has helped to calm me, to re-centre my focus and it will mean that I’m more productive, more present for those I love and more importantly am more in tune with myself in terms of what I need.

Give it a go – it works for me, and I really hope that it works for you.

The sun is shining, warm weather is around the corner. Today is going to be your day. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way… x

Ps Come over and join us in the Working Mum Association Group we’d love to have you with us