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WMA

Knowing You Do Have A Choice…

Yesterday, I spoke to a room full of like-minded mums about to return to work from maternity leave and start the juggle of work and family life. Looking back at how I felt before I embarked on this journey, similar to becoming a mum for the first time, nothing really prepares you for it.

Nothing prepares you for the knots in your stomach when you realise you have to leave the office to collect your child but are being prevented from doing so because of transport issues. Nothing prepares you for the pressure you feel under from every part of your life to have everything perfectly worked out. And nothing prepares you for the ache you carry with you every day as you miss your child more than words can express.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association

After I’d answered lots of questions after yesterday’s talk, I was approached by a lady who has set up her own business as she tries to make the juggle work for her. What she said made me smile in a realisation of how far we have all come as working mums. “In years to come,” she said, “these mums will look back at your talk and realise exactly what you were saying. Right now, they might not get it, but I sat and nodded my way through your talk because it’s so true.”

The things I talked about for those new mums returning to work, also apply to you as a working mum too. The most important takeaway of them all is that you absolutely do have options and you have a choice. Knowing this and choosing to act on it, can be incredibly liberating.

The thing is, when I was set to return to work after my year’s maternity leave with my son, I didn’t feel as if I had a choice. We needed the money, and because of the financial incentives offered for me to return full time for six months, I felt trapped. It meant that I didn’t explore my options.

But you absolutely do have a choice and there are so many things that you can think about doing. If you’re concerned that your current employer isn’t going to be flexible, first ask them about your options for returning. If they say they just want you back full-time in your role, at least you know where you stand.

If, of course, this isn’t going to work for you, then you can think about an exit strategy. The big thing to remember in all of this is that you’re in control. It’s your life and no one should make you feel as if they’re dictating how you live it.

Options could include returning, but starting a side hustle and building that side hustle up so that it will become your exit strategy. You could look for another more flexible role closer to home so you limit the daily commute.

There are great sites in the UK especially such as 2 to 3 Days and Timewise that post out relevant jobs for returners or mums in particular. If you know you definitely don’t want to return and are feeling overwhelmed with everything that lies ahead, think about what you’re qualified to do ie what is your zone of genius. Could you focus on providing your skills to a niche market on a freelance basis whilst you figure out what else you want to do?

I know of mums who have bought baby class franchises, have become yoga and pilates instructors, who have used their maternity leave to re-train and become laser focused on how they want their lives to be, both now and further down the line, whether that’s working just three days a week or full-time but with home-working as an option.

You see, once you start looking at the options you’re opening yourself up to opportunities. These are opportunities that might not have otherwise been there before because you were so focused on one particular outcome with tunnel vision.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association
You’re a mum, so you’re already amazing

The most important thing in all of this is to believe in yourself. You’re a mum, so you’re already amazing. Now take that fire inside of you to either get a promotion at work (but make it work for you), re-train or find yourself something that is going to complement, not hinder the juggle of work and family life.

Good luck with it all – and please let me know how you’re getting on as I love hearing from you about your journeys. Our journeys are just that; ours. And no one’s is every the same – each is as unique and special as you and your children… x

PS – The waitlist for the Working Mum Association Members Club is now open. To register your interest visit HERE

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.