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Home » Blog » The downside of being educated career-focused, and a working mum

The downside of being educated career-focused, and a working mum

Even as I sit to write this post, I still have mixed feelings on the subject of being a working mum. 

For the first two years of my baby girl’s life, I managed a full-time job. With additional pressure to work overtime. As well as looking after her, a house, and dealing with mum-guilt. 

I do need to say there are women out there doing this now, and more. They are bossing it every day and I salute them completely. Had redundancy not happened, it is likely I would still be working full time. But that isn’t the way things happened, and I’m thankful. For all those who still are juggling everything life has to throw at us, I found some great practical tips.

 “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”

Jill Churchill
working mum

I do feel like my priorities have changed since the pandemic. We’ve been shown just how short life is and how rewarding spending time together is. I wouldn’t relive the pandemic if I had a choice, but I loved spending quality time with my family and making the best of it. It’s driven me to create a life where we balance family time and work.

Why am I writing this post?

In this post, I want to discuss a bit about my journey and the debates about working mothers. As you can imagine, it’s coming up in conversations, for me, all the time at the moment. And in recent job interviews. Other mothers’ are now saying things like, “I don’t know how you did that for so long“. But whilst I was in the situation, I just got on with daily life. Burnout crept up on me out of nowhere.

Essentially my career came long before a child and I wanted to continue doing something for myself each day. The financial implications were also a factor because our budget was tight and we were recovering financially following my maternity leave. Maybe I didn’t anticipate that doing everything would have huge implications.

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Burnout 

Being a working mum isn’t easy. The burnout I faced was a culmination of everything I had going on. Pressure from my workplace was the main factor. However, I also accept some personal responsibility. Essentially I was trying to be superwoman and it didn’t end well. 

The pandemic

It’s common knowledge that the pandemic had an adverse impact on working mothers’. This Campaign Live article explains the following:

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that mothers who were in paid work prior to the first lockdown in 2020 are 47% more likely than fathers to have permanently lost their job or to have quit since that point. It has also been reported that 14% of mothers are more likely to have been furloughed or to have had their hours cut by more than half.

In some instances, women are taking voluntary furlough or redundancy, prioritising childcare over their careers. The impact has been compounded by the creative industry’s reluctance to offer women part-time or flexible work (this fell by 70% in the first 11 weeks of the pandemic), which has meant even fewer opportunities for working mums.

https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/covid-19-impact-working-mothers/1709749

I do feel like my priorities have changed since the pandemic. We’ve been shown just how short life is and how rewarding spending time together is. I wouldn’t relive the pandemic if I had a choice, but I loved spending quality time with my family and making the best of it. It’s driven me to create a life where we balance family time and work.

working mum

Taking time to recover from life-changing events

I am lucky, we had redundancy money and a situation where I could take a few months off and recover from the ordeal of the last two years.

To give you an overview, I had a rough pregnancy and returned to work when my little one was nine months old. After returning to the office, it was less than a month before the pandemic. I was off work for three weeks with covid, worrying about money, and the future that lay ahead of us. From the July of 2020, I then worked from home for two years and our workplace put immense pressure on our department. I had a mental breakdown in May 2021 and was off work for four months. Then, I returned for two months and was finally made redundant. Strangely, redundancy was a relief for me. An end to the stress!

Whew, even writing this down seems a lot. But it is also cathartic. It also allows me to see why I should never return to a situation like this again. Our family is too important! A balance is absolutely what we need now.

The aftermath 

When you go through a tough time like this, significant life-changing events, you assess your priorities. And it’s wise to ditch the things that aren’t working for you. 

It’s taken months of hard work and reflection, but I’m finally in a better place and ready to move into the next chapter in my life. 

Comments from employers regarding childcare 

Given my negative experience in the workplace, as a working mum, I believed all employers could be like that. It was refreshing in my recent interview to be asked what worked for me and if I would be okay with the working pattern. “Whatever is best for you” is something I thought I would never hear from an employer. But I can already feel a sense of leaving the negative comments I’ve experienced, especially about childcare, behind me. And I am so excited to work somewhere I don’t have to worry about these silly things. 

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Although I will say, some recent employers have asked questions about being part-time, after a full-time role, and also whether the roles are beneath me. Maybe it’s to get to know you better and I am reading too much into it. But it doesn’t come across well, especially to mothers who want to balance work and family life.

What can workplaces do better?

I don’t know the solution, but I feel like workplaces need to do a lot better when it comes to childcare policies, or treating everyone the same. I can still do my job and have a child. Yes, baby brain is a real thing. But when you’re ready to go back into the world of work, you still function and your skillset is the same. I want there to be a balance of factoring in a dependant, in terms of practicalities, like working hours and nursery pick-ups. However, I also want an employer to treat me as the same professional person I’ve always been, with the same level of respect I’ve had from most of my colleagues throughout my career.

Why can’t we have both? The pandemic has allowed ALL employees to work more flexibly. Surely this is the perfect time for employers to ditch the idea of women getting left behind because they have a child. I certainly experienced this unsaid opinion in my last role. And it didn’t feel good!

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    New beginnings 

    Although I was massively out of my comfort zone, changing careers was the best thing I did. And strangely enough, although I was nervous in my interview, speaking about something I loved actually calmed my nerves. ALL interviews in the past were filled with high anxiety levels, to the point I had to get beta-blockers from a doctor!

    For this recent interview, the feedback I received was that the enthusiasm shone through. I truly believe that when you’re real, living your truth, and being honest about your struggles and hopes, people can relate to you more. it’s certainly what happened during this interview process. I went for it, and it paid off.

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    Feeling grateful 

    I’m now at the point where I feel grateful to my hubby, myself, and my family for allowing me to work part-time. Sometimes you need validation from those around you. I remember my parents saying that my little one and I were both happier since I was working less. Those comments stick with you and keep you grounded. From my experience, I totally agree with them.

    I’m not saying don’t work if you have kids, but it is about finding a balance that works for your family. And every family is different. Given my mental health issues, part-time suits me best. There is no way I can go back to the place I was in last year. Our family simply doesn’t function when I am not in a good place mentally.

    Blogging 

    As well as being a working mum, I will still be managing my blogs around working and I can’t wait to develop this one further. It’s a passion project and I feel motivated to share my life with other people in order to help them. How could I stop doing something so amazing?

    Until next time

    I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I can’t wait to share more blog posts in the working mum mini-series!

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    “Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease.” 

    Lisa Alther
    working mum

    4 Comments

    1. April 6, 2022 / 4:30 pm

      This was a really interesting read! It seems like you’ve been through a lot but you’re doing an amazing job. Thank you so much for sharing <3
      readandreviewit recently posted…Upcoming Releases: April 2022My Profile

      • April 6, 2022 / 8:32 pm

        Thank you for your comment, it means a lot. I’ve been on a journey, but finally in a better place 🙂

    2. May 26, 2022 / 3:39 pm

      I’m glad you found a new job and were able to pivot into a new career when you were ready. Many working moms struggle to be the best employee and the best mother, but the truth is, for many, in order to be the best at one, you have to be just okay at the other and then switch.

      Crystal | http://www.amazingbaby.app

      • June 1, 2022 / 12:47 am

        It’s definitely a difficult journey, but I’ve found a balance now until life throws my way the next challenge.

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