All mums are awesome, whether they decide to work or stay at home. Full-time working mums have me in awe though, I just don’t know how they fit everything in!
This week’s working mum is Laura from Living Unplugged, she works full-time and runs her blog in the evenings.
Please introduce yourself…
My name is Laura Curtis, I live in a small town in Kent with my husband Marc, our 4yr old Toby and my stepson Milo who is 12.
What do you do for a living?
I am a marketing strategist by day but Marc and I also set up Living Unplugged earlier this year which is our passion. The marketing job allows me to earn the money we need to progress our Living Unplugged dream.
How many hours do you work?
I am full time so I am at work 08:30-5pm and then once the children are in bed we dedicate an hour each evening to Living Unplugged work. Marc is based in London for his work so he also has to contend with a daily commute.
Who looks after your children while you work?
Milo lives with his mother during the week and is in school full time but Toby is still in nursery. He has a long day starting at 7:45am and getting home with me at 6pm. He luckily loves nursery!
Are you in the same job before you went on maternity leave?
No, I went back to my job after maternity but I really struggled. It was a small, new company and I didn’t feel it was particularly stable so I ended up moving to a big London agency for stability.
Did you return to work on the same hours?
I was blessed to have an incredible boss. She let me come back to work part-time and with a lot of time working from home. I was allowed total flexibility which really helped. I was living in Canterbury at the time and commuting to London so the hours were pretty insane. The flexibility was a godsend. She would even be happy for me to call up on the day and say I was going to work from home. She provided me with a really good laptop, company phone and was happy to conduct meetings on Skype. Everyone in the office was assured I was available even if I wasn’t present in the office and it was this top-down support which really helped.
How long was your maternity leave?
I took a full year.
How did you feel about returning to work?
I was desperate to go back to work. I had post-natal depression and PTSD after the birth of my son and I just wanted to go back to feeling normal I wasn’t prepared for missing Toby or feeling guilty that I’d “abandoned” him in a nursery. It was very confusing. I think the distance from Canterbury to London also added to my anxiety. It wasn’t until I started working more locally about a year ago that I realised I could relax a little more about being a working mum.
What do you find the hardest about being a working mum?
The hardest thing is not being close by to Toby. He has fairly severe allergies and has to carry epi-pens. I know if anything happened to him I wouldn’t be able to get to him quick enough and that breaks my heart. I also struggle with how tired he gets. It’s a long day and a long week for him being in nursery full time. I wish he had more time to just be with his family.
What are your favourite things about being a working mum?
I like having something in my life that is mine. I know a lot of parents who are defined only by their children which was something I never wanted for myself. I like that there are different sides to me. I have my parenting hat and my work hat. Being a working mum makes me feel incredibly proud that I am providing for Toby and I think it makes me a better mother when I am with him. I struggled with motherhood and I think had I been a stay at home mum mine and Toby’s relationship would have been fraught and strained. Being a working mum has meant that when I go home I am desperate to see him, talk to him, cuddle him. That in my eyes is the best feeling to have at the end of a long day.
Do you have any tips for mums thinking about returning to work after maternity leave?
Discuss your needs and concerns with your manager, be totally honest and make sure your needs are heard. Whilst I appreciate that not every role can be flexible you can always ask.
Make sure you also talk to peers and colleagues too, especially if you’re looking to work from home. The more they understand, and the more they know about practical things like your availability when you’re at home, how to contact you and what you’re working on the more supportive they tend to be.
I would also say that the first few weeks and months are inevitably hard. Find childcare that you are 100% comfortable with because if that’s on your mind you will never be able to relax back into work.