As you may have seen last week, I’ve started a new series on Digital Motherhood “Interview With A Working Mum”.
Each week I’ll introduce you to a lovely lady who will tell you her story, her struggles and her favourite bits about being a working mum.
First up is Lucy, an English mum working in Australia who has an unusual working set up….
First Up Please Introduce yourself…
Hi! I’m Lucy!
My family consists of me, my husband (my high-school sweetheart), our eight month old daughter and our rescue dog. We only have one child at the moment, but we hope to add another in the near future.
We live in Perth, Australia, although both my husband and I are originally from England.
What makes my working-mum story unique is that I take my baby to work with me!
I have also recently started a blog Leaning In, where I write about life, parenting and being a working mum, in particular, my experience with taking my baby to work.
What line of work are you in?
I am a lawyer working primarily in property and commercial law, estate planning and deceased estates. My job is probably not what you think of when you think of a lawyer. I hate going to court and I do my very best to avoid it.
I also do my best to avoid conflict. Believe it or not, the job of a lawyer is not all about dispute resolution. My job is to setting things up for success! If agreements are properly documented from the get-go there is (hopefully!) no need for lengthy and costly disputes.
In addition to providing legal services I am actively involved in business development and management at our firm. My role involves developing technology to enable us to provide legal services at a reduced cost, making them more accessible to the broader community.
I am passionate about helping young lawyers develop the skills they need to thrive in a professional environment. I place a big emphasis on professional development not just in terms of legal knowledge, but in universal skills such as time management and work-life balance.
How many hours per week do you work?
My job is very flexible. At the moment I work at the office (and take my baby in with me) for three days a week and from home during the evenings if I want or need to.
Although I am at the office three days a week, the number of hours I spend actually working varies. I take my daughter to the office with me, so she dictates how much work I actually do during those days!
When she was a newborn I probably managed 7.5 hours a day. These days I arrive at the office about 9:30 and leave about 4, or earlier if my daughter has had enough. My workday is a mixture of working and playing with my daughter.
I probably average about 30 hours per week.
Are you in the same job/line of work as before you had Your Daughter?
I am in the same job as before I had my daughter. I have worked for the same company for almost seven years. I started there part-time while I was studying my law degree.
Did your employer make it easy for you to return?
My employer has been very supportive of my parenting journey from the start of my pregnancy. I suffered with all-day sickness for the first five months of my pregnancy so I would show up at work late almost daily and I spent far too much time in the toilets! My boss never uttered one negative word. He was very supportive. His attitude was that I might be struggling now but that I had either made up for it in the past or would do so in the future.
My boss helped me to set up remote access so that I can work from home and we touch base all the time about how I am getting on with my flexible work arrangements. He has offered so much advice and support, including suggesting that I try taking my daughter to work with me when I told him I was fed up with working by myself at home!
How quickly did you return to work after having Your Daughter?
I started working from home for a couple of hours a day when my daughter was about ten days old. After a few weeks I felt isolated and lonely, so my boss suggested that I work from the office for a few days and bring my daughter with me. I think she was about 5 weeks old when I started taking her in to the office on a regular basis.
I’m not sure whether I’ll return to work so quickly next time around. I’m guessing it will be a bit more of a juggle with two!
Did you want to return to work?
The thing I struggled with most during my pregnancy was not knowing how I would feel about work after my daughter was born. I didn’t know if I would want to work. I thought that I would, but I knew that I wouldn’t really know until she was born. My job is a huge part of my identity. I spent six years at university and I didn’t want to throw that away! At the same time, I knew that if I didn’t return to work it would be my choice, so I’d be happy either way.
As it turned out, yes, I did want to work. My daughter was a very content newborn. My family and friends were all working during the days and I wanted something stimulating to occupy me while my daughter slept. Working seemed like the obvious choice. Plus I got paid for it, which was a bonus!
What are the hardest things about being a working mum?
Honestly, I don’t think I have got to the really tough stage yet. My daughter comes to work with me so I haven’t had to leave her yet.
Right now the hardest things are:
Getting work done while having my daughter with me. This was easy when she was a newborn, but as she gets older she is awake for longer periods.
Keeping the balance right. I have gone from working a few hours a day to full time, down to 3 days a week and to 3 days a week plus evenings. The amount of time I spend working and how I do it (whether from the office or at home) changes to meet my daughter’s needs. She is growing and changing so quickly, so I have to constantly check-in and make sure the balance is right.
What are your favourite things about being a working mum?
Having it all. I know it’s a cliché, but I do feel like I have everything I want/need.
I am glad that I have been able to return to work so soon, but taking my daughter to work with me has meant that I haven’t had to compromise and miss out on her special firsts.
I have no doubt that returning to work and taking my daughter with me has played a huge part in helping me adjust so well to motherhood.
What are your least favourite things about being a working mum?
Because I returned to work so quickly I thought I was getting all the adult interaction I needed and I missed out on mothers group. After 6 months or so I really felt like I was missing a support group. I have lots of friends, but none who are really going through the same things as me as a parent. I’m making up for this now by going to mothers group, playgroup, swimming, etc. but I am yet to find my tribe!
Do you have any tips for other working mums or mums thinking about returning to work after maternity leave?
Consider taking your baby to work! There are so many benefits to all involved. It might sound impossible (and it would be in some professions!) but it can be done!
Other than that, try to go with the flow and stay relaxed. It can easily become overwhelming if we let everything get to us.
If you want to find out more about Lucy check out her blog Leaning In.
If you’d like to take part in “Interview With A Working Mum” please drop me an email.