If you live in the area of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire covered by the ITV Calendar news region, you may be familiar with local reporter Sally Simpson, who works all hours reading the headlines during both morning and evening news bulletins. There aren’t many of us who have a job like Sally’s, so I was excited to interview her for ‘Meet the #WorkingMumsClub’.
Can you give us a bit of background about your family and your work?
I’m a mummy to Samuel who is nearly two-and-a-half, and a wife to Paul. I took a year off work when Samuel was born (I can comfortably say it was the best year of my life) and returned three days a week. As a journalist for ITV Yorkshire, I do a mixture of shifts involving presenting the early morning bulletins in Good Morning Britain, going out and about reporting from around the region and sometimes presenting the main regional news at 6pm. It means my working day might start at 5am, 2pm, or anywhere in between.
How have you managed to balance your career and motherhood so far?
I’m very fortunate in that ITV is a very parent-friendly employer. The newsroom is made up of several parents of young children who work a variety of hours and shifts, and I had no concerns about being able to return on terms which would suit everyone. My career has progressed since I returned and I don’t feel maternity leave or motherhood has held me back.
It must be difficult to have regular childcare when your shifts vary so much.
I’m very lucky to have lots of family help – Samuel’s childcare is shared between my mum, my mother-in-law and his childminder, all three of whom he loves very much! If I need to be flexible and work unusual days or hours, one of them is usually willing and able to step in. My husband’s job is less flexible but he does what he can, and we recently moved house to enable him to get home earlier to be involved in the bedtime routine.
Do you think that being a working mum has a positive or negative effect on your work/life balance?
I believe being a working mum makes me a better employee and a better mum. Lots of the skills both roles require are very transferable! Perhaps when Samuel is older and there are school sports days and assemblies to factor in, life may get more complicated, but for now I enjoy my days at work and treasure my time at home. When my maternity leave came to an end, I could quite happily have continued to be a stay-at-home mum, but I knew that when the time came for Samuel to go to school I would want to go back to work. This isn’t practical and I don’t expect employers to make it so.
Do you ever feel guilty for going out to work?
Like being a mum, being a journalist is really a full time job. You never really switch off from one or the other. This means when I’m at home I have to resist the temptation to answer emails, and at work I try not to wonder what Samuel is having for his lunch. But I generally manage not to feel guilty. The money I earn allows us to have nice family holidays and days out, and the confidence and enjoyment I get from being at work makes me nicer to be around, and Samuel is a confident, sociable and adaptable little boy.
What changes would you like to see to make life easier for working mums?
Out of hours childcare will always be the biggest challenge to working mums as it is largely non-existent after 6pm, and of course it’s expensive but I understand why. The changes to parental leave laws are helping but I think we’re a long way from a time when it’s financially viable for mums and dads to share childcare responsibilities equally.
What 3 top tips can you give to other working mums?
My advice to mums returning to work is this:
Ditch the guilt. You are allowed to love your child AND your job.
Go to bed early. Sleep is your friend.
And if you can do motherhood, you can do anything!
Follow Sally on Twitter @SallySimpsonITV.
If you’d like to feature as a guest in Meet the #WorkingMumsClub, give me a shout on Twitter @WorkingMums_UK or send me an email email@example.com.