Thanks for coming to check out the latest guest post in my Interview With A Working Mum series.
Flexible working is so important to many mums and more employers are getting on board with it. It doesn’t always work out first time and sometimes takes a bit of rejigging to get the right balance for everyone involved. This week’s working mum is Helen from Welsh Mum Writing, she tells us about her feelings on returning to work and how she manages flexible working.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m Helen and I blog at Welsh Mum Writing. I’m a forty something first time mum with a two-year-old (Small Boy), a cat with OCD and a husband who is an engineer and musician (Hubs). I live in South Wales but spent a few years in the Midlands and also in the Thames Valley.
What do you do for a living?
The day job is a Strategic Communications Manager – essentially I help get messages out to customers and those interested in and affected by our organisation’s work, and ensure we engage with and listen to those groups effectively. Think public relations and you won’t be far off.
How many hours do you work?
37 hours in a compressed pattern – essentially three long days in an office and two short days at home, split so I have two long breaks to spend it with Small Boy.
Who looks after your son while you work?
Nursery mostly. My husband also compresses his hours so he has Small Boy for the guts of a full day. We don’t have a large extended family so there’s a lot of juggling and muddling. My employer is very flexible though so on my short days from home I can do a couple of hours before Small Boy wakes and a couple later on or when Hubs gets home.
Are you in the same job before you went on maternity leave?
I’m working for the same employer but in a different role. I came back to work on a short-term promotion within my former team and then moved to another team later on, with a permanent promotion. It’s worked out well, but I’m incredibly lucky. I don’t know many organisations that support flexible working and development to such a degree.
Did you return to work on the same hours?
I initially returned on 30 hours a week over three and a half days, but the way I had to split it didn’t really work well for them or me. It’s actually been less stressful logistically and finally increasing my hours and working them over three full days and two half days. It involved a lot of maths to get that right!
How long was your maternity leave?
I took nine months which felt enough in some ways. If we could have afforded it I would have taken a year though.
How did you feel about returning to work?
Resigned. We had done our maths before I went on maternity and knew that it was likely I’d have to return at nine months so I didn’t invest too much energy in being hacked off about it. Picking a good nursery that was nearby made it easier I think. Also, as we have little to no regular childcare I was ready to have some sort of break – going back to work might be an extreme solution to that but needs must!
What do you find the hardest thing about being a working mum?
The constant juggling of time and feeling that no matter what you do you are letting someone down somewhere along the line.
And what about your favourite things about being a working mum?
Primarily knowing that I don’t have to worry too much about money and that Small Boy will always have clothes on his back and healthy food on his plate. I’m not going to say that it’s setting him a role model because I think that stay at home parents offer just as much to children as working parents. Kids don’t need to see someone go off in a suit or a van in the morning to know the value of hard work.
Do you have any tips for other mums thinking about
returning to work after maternity leave?
My best tip would be to keep an open mind and don’t make any definite decisions until you’ve spent some time thinking about it.
Work out what your must-haves bottom lines are in terms of finances and what’s important to you. Where can you or would you compromise, both in terms of your career and also your home life. There’s no right or wrong decision per se, only what would be right or wrong for you and your family. Write down some scenarios of what your life would look at if you return to work, or not, and the sort of hours and role you might return to – consider money, how your spend your time, the works.
But hell, there’s a lot to be said for going with your gut – you’ll make it work one way or another.