In my recent post about returning to work after maternity leave, I threw open the doors to the #WorkingMumsClub and invited the world of gainfully employed mothers to come in and have a sit down with a well-earned brew and a KitKat (we’re easily pleased). If you’d like to join too, keep an eye on the #WorkingMumsClub hashtag on Twitter to see what we’re talking about in our spare five minutes each day.
By way of a kind of celebration of the unique challenges faced by modern working mums, I’m delighted to bring you the first in my new series Meet the #WorkingMumsClub – guest interviews with fellow busy ladies who make like Rihanna and ‘work’ (admittedly, there’s probably a lot less gyrating involved, unless you’ve got a job I’d be really interested in asking you about).
Say hello to lovely Hannah, who blogs at Budding Smiles.
Tell me a bit about your family and what your job is.
I have Toby who’s 21 months old and am due to give birth any day to our daughter. [*UPDATE: Hannah welcomed beautiful baby Martha on May Day]. I work as a freelance blogger and social media manager as part of a lovely team, as well as taking on the odd copywriting project.
How do you manage your daily routine?
Toby goes to nursery on Mondays and stays at my mum and dad’s Thursday into Friday, so they are my main working days. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I devote as much time as possible to being with Toby, then do bits of work when he naps (which isn’t much!). My dynamic will undoubtedly change with baby girl’s arrival as I’ll be working as well as having her full time so I’ll update you with how that goes!
Do you find being a working mum impacts negatively on family life or is it positive thing for you?
I think it’s a positive thing for us, because it gives me time to be ‘Hannah’ and use my brain for something I love, plus Toby gets the independence and social aspect of a day at nursery. As long as I’m strict with my timekeeping, I can do work in work time and be with Toby in Toby time. The downside is because I can work from my phone, I never truly switch off from work emails and social media notifications!
What do you most wish you could change to make life easier for working mums?
As someone who works from home rather than out of the house, I have a lot more flexibility than many working mums. Part of the reason I gave up the job I had when I was pregnant with Toby, was because the headmaster was bending any rule possible to stop mums returning to work part time and loopholes enabling this sort of behaviour needs to stop.
If you worked while you were pregnant, how did this affect your work? Do you think you have been at all disadvantaged in maintaining a work and family life balance?
In Toby’s pregnancy, I wasn’t exactly treated brilliantly, although it could have been worse. I couldn’t possibly have had a good balance if I’d have stayed there, but thankfully I was ready for a career change. This time around I’ve had a lot more control and the amazing Social Sparkle team have looked out for me, helping me out whenever I’ve needed it, which has been brilliant and has truly helped with me having a great work life balance.
Have you ever considered giving up work to be a stay-at-home mum? If you decided it wasn’t for you, what put you off?
When I handed my notice in after having Toby, that was the plan! We didn’t have an easy time when Toby was a baby and it had an impact on my mental health. As much as I adore my son and being a mum, I needed to be using my skills and to challenge myself intellectually. It’s not that being a mum isn’t stimulating, but I do find that I need the work side of my life too.
Do you find that you do the bulk of the household chores/childcare despite also having a ‘day job’? Or does your partner do their fair share?
Phil definitely pulls his weight! I was trying to be all things to all people and when I accepted that I had to figure out my priorities, we hired a cleaner for an hour a week who’s amazing! Phil and I then pretty much split everything else.
What 3 top tips can you offer other mums returning to work (or considering it) to make things easier for them?
– Accept that you may (probably will) need extra help and don’t feel guilty about that; you can’t work 24 hours a day as a mum, worker, wife, housewife etc.
– Make the most of the time that you do spend with your child(ren)
– Don’t feel guilty for wanting or needing your job. I always thought I’d be a stay-at-home mum but the reality was that it wasn’t for me as a full time thing and that’s okay. Likewise if you have to work, then you’re still doing something awesome for your family!
Have you ever felt guilty about being a working mum?
There have been times, especially if Toby’s cried when I’ve dropped him at nursery, but I know that he gets a lot from being there and we’re all much better balanced because of how our routine works.
Do you think mums are taken seriously in the workplace or is there still a stigma attached to having kids if you want a career? Have you ever experienced discrimination at work?
Obviously my experiences are different with me working from home and being self employed, but from my experience when I was still in the workplace I definitely saw a lot of issues and discrimination against mums. As I mentioned, the head made it virtually impossible to return to work part time and there was simply no flexibility.
Do you enjoy your job or is it simply a means to an end?
I love my job, it was the best step I ever made work-wise.
What’s the worst thing about being a working mum?
The potential to miss out on milestones.
What’s the best thing?
Having time to still be ‘Hannah’ as well as ‘Mummy’ and to use my brain in an academic manner so that I can keep challenging myself.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All professions welcome, even partially-dressed twerking international pop stars.