Can you imagine working 7 days a week as well as looking after your family? Me neither, but often that’s what happens when you run your own business.
This week’s working mum guest blogger set up her own business to allow her to be around more for her children…
Please introduce yourself…
I’m Jo Mackay. First and foremost, I consider myself a Mum to our 2 children. They are Ben (14) and Lucy (11). Next, I see myself as a wife. I am married to Ewan and we live in Haslemere, Surrey. And lastly, I see myself as a businesswoman.
What do you do for a living?
I am the owner of Bookings For You, a company specialising in holiday rentals in Italy and, more recently, France. The business was launched in 2009.
How many hours a week do you work?
I am always working! As I run my own business, I never have a day off. Even when I’m on holiday, I have to allocate part of the day to checking and responding to emails. However, I set up my own business to be able to work around my children so I tend to work between 8 and 5 when they are at school and then again later in the evening, when work is often done in front of the TV! During school holidays, I tend to do them first thing when the children are still in bed, or last thing in the day when we’ve finished whatever activity we were doing. Being quick to respond to emails and to answer client questions is vital for my business so I work 7 days a week and always have my eye on emails coming through on my phone if I am out and about.
Who looks after your children while you work?
My children are a bit older so they’re almost self-sufficient. We are getting to the stage where we don’t need babysitters. However, when I first went back to work after having my son, he went to nursery for the three days I was working. I then set up my own business in order that I didn’t have to depend on childcare. However, I think children can really benefit from being in nursery so even when I was running my own business, they went to nursery for 1.5 days a week. I would work during that time and would then work in the evenings or during nap time.
Are you in the same job as before you went on maternity leave?
No… before I had children I used to work for Procter & Gamble at their head office in Weybridge. It was a great company to work for and I really enjoyed it. My business now is in a very different sector (travel as opposed to household goods) but many of the skills I learned when working for P&G still apply. In fact, I can honestly say that the training I received from P&G has been invaluable in setting up Bookings For You so I am really grateful to them.
Did you return to work the same hours?
P&G were great and tried to be flexible to help me come back to work. I was adamant that I wanted to spend more days at home with my son each week than in the office so they agreed to let me go back to work 3 days a week. This was the first time they had allowed this as previously, part-time had always been considered as a 4 day a week role. I trialled a job share concept with another lady also returning from maternity leave. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out…. on hindsight, I don’t think enough support was there to make it work however it probably wasn’t the right role to split in this way so probably doomed from the start in some ways. However, I will always appreciate the effort the company made to at least find a solution.
How did you feel about returning to work?
It’s amazing as it’s 13 years since I first went on maternity leave however it feels just like yesterday. I have to admit to not really looking forward to returning but I throw myself into whatever I choose to do so returned with an open mind, keen to try and make it work. I always had a different perspective on work after having children though…. I was keen to work just as hard and do just as well but having a little one did make me view things a little bit differently. I always sensed that the nursery would be calling with a problem before the phone rang and I think Ben was always at the back of my mind just a little bit. I think Mums can have a second sense about their children in this way. And always having to leave to get to nursery on time put a new type of pressure on the day. No more sitting in the office at 9 at night anymore!!
What do you find the hardest thing about being a working Mum?
When I returned to work for P&G and was very much back in the corporate world, I have to say I was riddled with feelings of guilt…. guilt of not spending enough time with my son and guilt of not putting in the hours I used to be able to do for the company. I didn’t feel I was doing either role as well as I could or should. Those feelings of guilt disappeared when I set up my own business and was working for myself. Nowadays, I find the juggling the hardest thing… I seem to have a permanent ‘to do’ list running around in my head.
What are your favourite things about being a working Mum?
I love the fact that, by being a working Mum, I can challenge my brain and keep learning new skills. I love being a Mum and that will always be my most important and rewarding role but I think I think it’s good to also be able to challenge myself in other ways. I admit that I’m lucky that I’m in a position that I can do this without compromising my time with the children. I also think it’s good for the children to see me doing both roles. That said, I think each mother should do what is right for them. My choices are mine alone… They are the right choices for me and my family, but that doesn’t mean that they would be right for everyone. For some, working full time may be the right option, for others it may be the right thing to be a ‘stay at home’ Mum. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. You have to do what you feel is right for you and your family. I know that I’m lucky I had a choice about what to do. Not everyone does.
Do you have any tips for other working mums?
Don’t feel guilty…. you will be doing the best you can and that is all anyone can ask for. Easy to say though… less easy to do! Also, do push for what is right for you and your family. It took me months to convince P&G to let me return 3 days a week and not 4 but I got there eventually. I would have hated to have done the 4 days and so the battle was worth fighting!
I have a few more slots before the end of the year if you are interested in taking part in my Interview With A Working Mum series, just drop me an email for more info.