Working flexibly or looking to return to the workplace and feeling guilty? Perhaps you may not need to. There are actually some real benefits to having two working parents. It may be the best gift you can give your child.
Is being a career mum even possible? Today I read that 6 in 10 women feel having kids is bad for your career. Really!!!????
In these days of “anything is possible”, so many career mums juggle work with looking after a young family. Perhaps you are lucky enough to work from home. Perhaps you are flying about in private jets and have an army of nannies and chefs catering to your child’s every requirement. Or perhaps you are like most of us working mums who do everything yourself and spend much of your life in a state of mania and panic that you have forgotten something vitally important.
A Career Mum’s Maternity Leave
As a Career Mum, I went on maternity leave a few days before my little one was due and returned to the office full time 11 weeks after he was born. I think this is fairly usual in the USA but not so much in the UK. Friends and colleagues often gasp in horror to hear of my very short maternity leave but I am the main wage earner in our little family and if the mortgage is to be paid and holidays are to be booked, I need to get to work. And the truth is I wanted to get back to work and felt little remorse about leaving my child with family and latterly, a private nursery which I paid through the nose for. Men are not criticized for not taking career breaks, so why are women often sneered at for wanting to have it all?
A Career Mum’s Guilt
As my son has grown older and my working life has become even busier; I have felt the gut wrenching pangs of guilt associated with not being at home. I have had embarrassing situations where my child was at nursery for 4 years and his teachers did not know who I was at graduation because I was rarely the one who had time to drop him or collect him; I have had parents at school assume my husband is a single parent; I have occasionally missed parents’ evenings, nativity plays and sports days due to travelling and/or work deadlines.
On the other side, I regularly sprint in to the office 10 minutes late as scraped knees have needed to be bandaged or breakfast spills cleaned up. I often run out of the office early to ensure prompt collection from after school club. I can’t tell you how many times I have needed to sign a document and rummaged through my handbag for a pen only to pull out plastic dinosaurs, snotty tissues and occasionally special pictures that my son sneaks in to my bag to cheer me up at the office (those days are the best days).
Working Mums – our children attend breakfast clubs, after school care, summer holiday clubs and occasionally even come to work with us. It is stressful; it is exhausting; it is enough to make you want the odd G&T on a Friday night.
Do I regret it? Would I change it? NO!!
A Career Mum’s Reward
I look at my 9 year old son with a mixture of pride and awe. This well-adjusted, confident, intelligent, hilarious little man is the way he is perhaps in spite of, but certainly because of our home set up. In a busy household where both parents work, he understands he needs to help out. He earns pocket money by performing well at school, undertaking the few household chores that he is set, and will save his pocket money for that Xbox One if he really wants it before Christmas. He understands the importance of working for things. He has a centred moral compass and demonstrates compassion for others. He is kind and helpful; running down the front steps when I have been shopping to help carry bags. Would he be all these things if I had stayed at home with him? Probably. Is he still all of these things even though I work full time? Absolutely.
Could you be a Career Mum and have it all?
No matter whether you are a working mum or a busy mum at home all day (and let’s be honest – that is the toughest job of all), we all try to teach our children the skills and values to grow up as responsible members of society.
Remarkable ladies do the “working mum thing” every day – they are surgeons, waitresses, lawyers, shopkeepers etc. We have relied upon and are eternally grateful to the individuals and institutions that have assisted us in retaining our sense of self, making us happier women than we would be if we were just “Mum”.
For many years, I have been lucky enough to be associated with Ably Resources Ltd. Our organization proudly champions gender equality in the workplace and has no glass ceiling for career minded ladies with children.
If you are a woman chasing that board level appointment and thinking that children will prevent that; my experience has been that you can have it all – if you’re willing to work for it!!
Author: Ami Wright. Ami is the director of Ably Resources. Ably is a leading specialist recruitment group. They specialise in finding (flexible) work for women in Engineering, Oil & Gas and Drilling, Marine & Subsea and Architectural and Structural Engineering. They cover UK, Middle East and South East Asia – mainly relocating expats to these locations.
Are you working flexibly? Or are you looking to return to the workplace and considering working flexibly? If you are you most likely will feel anxious about your children’s future whilst feeling self-reproachful for spending time away from them. Here’s some encouraging news.
Working Flexibly? – The benefits for your child
Women whose mothers were employed outside the home are more likely to hold jobs themselves, to have managerial responsibilities at work and earn higher wages than women whose mums stayed at home full-time during their childhood, according to a Harvard Business School study.
Similarly, men brought up by working mothers are more likely to contribute to household duties and spend more time caring for family members.
The findings also revealed that it didn’t matter whether mothers work flexibly in temporary roles a few months one year, or fifty hours per week through the whole childhood.
Rather, differences occurred when children had a role model who demonstrated that women are more than able to balance working both inside and outside the home. So, even returning to work a few hours a week could increase the chances of your child becoming successful once they reach adulthood, enter the labour force and possibly become parents themselves.
Another study carried out on children in Denmark, found that children, with mothers who returned to work for only 10 to 19 hours a week (similar to holding a temporary position or part-time job) during the first four years of their child’s life, had grades that were 2.6% higher, relative to children whose mothers stayed at home. And, in the long term, the children with working mothers grew up to do better. Having a hard-working, female role model to look up to far outweighed the fact that mothers had to spend a little bit less time with their children when they were young.
Working Flexibly – Job offers are growing
Increasingly, employers are catering to the trend of more mothers wanting to remain in or re-join the workforce. This coincides with a societal shift in opinion that mother should be able to choose to work flexibly whilst raising their children instead of being resigned to look after their children full-time, at home. The Internet is increasingly filled with specialised recruitment agencies, job boards, websites and even a platform such as Flexy, with accommodating, temporary and part-time positions that could be attractive to many mothers wanting to work flexibly outside the home whilst their children are growing up.
Working Flexibly – The benefits for you
Although society, as a whole, has come a lot closer to achieving gender equality, there still exists a great amount of pressure and parental guilt over both parents working outside the home. However, much academic research has proven that his should not be the case, as there a range of benefits to being or having a working mother. For example, Harvard Business School’s research provided evidence that not only do working mothers help their families economically, they also help themselves emotionally and professionally as well as setting an example for their children by showing that contributions at work and at home are of equal value, for both fathers and mothers. These are just a handful of powerful reasons for working mothers to feel accomplished and proud of the fact they are able to return to the workforce, rather than guilty for being employed whilst raising their children.
Author: Charlotte Woodhams. Charlotte works at , a recruitment app, matching workers and employers for short-term contracts and shift work. Jobs include: office, admin and reception, catering and events, retail and merchandising, research and testing, sales and customer service, street marketing and promotions, warehouse pickers and packers, cleaning and maintenance. Jobs are London-focused.
Being a free lance mother means you can easily squeeze in moments like picking up the kids from school or changing nappies, as long as you make sure you have met your deadlines at the end of the month. It might take a bit of discipline, but in general, a freelancer’s job satisfaction is very high. So, working freelance seems like the ideal option for mothers that want to have flexibility around their family.
One of the only things though, that will take extra (unwanted) time is managing your own finances. As a freelance mother, you are solely responsible for sending invoices, giving yourself a salary and doing tax returns. This might seem a bit daunting at first, but with the following tips, you should be ready to take the plunge!
Separate your bank accounts
Open a separate business account so you won’t mix up your personal money with your business expenses. It allows you to get a clear overview of your company’s cash flow, which will come in handy when you’re doing your tax return, but it also protects your personal assets from liability. As a freelancer, you are liable for legal issues and debts of the business. Creditors might go after your personal money in the rare case that your business fails. It’s therefore highly recommended to have a clear business structure in place with a separate business bank account and a company check book to prevent financial disasters.
Create an emergency fund
Freelancing can be a great option for stay-at-home mums to keep the cash flowing in. However, be prepared for the tough times. As a freelancer, you constantly need to be on the lookout for new projects and clients, which means you don’t always have a steady income. Some clients tend to pay you only after you’ve finished a project, which can take months. This means that there will be times where you barely get paid at all, and there’ll be months where you’ll get paid loads at once. It’s crucial to save up for the times that are tough and set up an emergency savings account that you can rely on when clients are slow at paying you or when your child suddenly needs a new pair of glasses. Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover your expenses for at least 6 months.
Plan for maternity pay for free lance mothers
In the UK, conventional employees are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Self-employed women, however, don’t self-evidently qualify for maternity pay. You decide yourself when you start working again after pregnancy and how much. You might be able to claim SMP under particular circumstances, e.g. if you’re a director of a limited company and you’ve been working there for at least 26 weeks preceding the 15th week before your due date. If not, you might qualify for Maternity Allowance (MA), but this is usually a bit less and requires more planning. You can claim MA if you have worked for at least 26 of the 66 weeks before your due date, and you have earned over £30 per week on average for at least 13 weeks. You can add up your earnings from both employed and self-employed work.
Invest in accounting software
To set up a strict budget and plan for your pension, taxes and maternity pay, it might be best to hire an accountant who can do the hard work for you. However, accountants tend to charge a high rate. A cheaper alternative is to invest in small business accounting software. It helps you understand your own finances, track invoices and it gives you free bookkeeping advice. Doing your tax return at the end of the year will be a piece of cake!
Find out more finance tips for free lance mothers here:
- The first things you need when starting a business
- Top tax tips for start ups
- Can you sustain your lifestyle when one income falls away
Author bio: Lisa van der Steen is a Dutch freelance writer based in the UK. Writing on behalf of Accountz, a developer of accounting software, she has an expert knowledge of money management for entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Lisa had a successful career change from account manager for a telecoms firm to founder of a baby gift company. She is also a wife, and a mum to two teenage boys, all of whom she uprooted as the business grew and they moved to South Gloucestershire where they now live alongside the business and the grandparents, together with their spaniel Ben. Read more on what it’s like to start your own business.
What motivated you to have a career change?
I studied Business and Finance at University and worked as an account manager for a telecoms firm. I have always enjoyed my working life and successfully worked through both my pregnancies. But, like many working mums, the arrival of a second child meant childcare costs prevented a return to my career. In addition I really wanted to find a job that would have the flexibility to enable me to work around my family and children and still engage my brain and allow me to express myself creatively – this was the motivation I needed to start out on my own.It had always been my dream to run my own business and to work for myself doing something that allows me to get creative and most importantly to enjoy what I do. So when I had my boys that gave me the last bit of motivation and confidence to ‘go it alone’.
Where did your business idea come from?
Drawing from my own experiences of motherhood, Babyblooms was forged in 2005 through my quest to create the perfect new baby gift for expectant friends. For me this had to be a delight to receive, with a real wow factor, encompassing my love of all things beautiful and practical. So I designed the baby clothes bouquet. Following on from the success of the bouquets we now have a range of gifts including hampers for mum and baby, skincare, jewellery, baby shower and Christening gifts and a range of gifts that can be personalised.
I find being creative a real joy and consider myself very lucky to head a business that allows me to indulge in this every single day.
100% conviction that my idea would work gave me the drive to make it happen.
What kind of support do you have?
I work with a fantastic group of people, many of whom are mums like me and together we have created a flexible and supportive work environment and a highly successful business. Our success is due in no small part to the priority we give to accommodating family life, working to provide cover for each other when needed, ensuring business needs and deadlines are met alongside the demands of our families. My husband and family also have been very supportive.
For me it was important to always keep business separate from home and family time. If it is possible, having a physical door that you can shut on your business really helps. Make the most of the time when your children are sleeping. I conducted most of my planning and research in the evenings while my children slept. Needless to say, bedtimes were strictly adhered to!
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
The biggest challenge I have faced was moving home, family and business from Berkshire to Gloucestershire without experiencing a break in the Babyblooms service, or our next day delivery option.
When faced with a challenge I break it down to what I can change and what I can’t. I write a list detailing what actions I need to take and when. Then I go home to my family and shut the door on it until it is feasible to do something. I have learned that worrying in the meantime is futile.
Author: Bryony Bower, PR Executive of Lisa, founder and CEO of Babyblooms, a UK baby gift company.
As a mum, you may well have experienced private tutoring from the other side of things. Whether your child needed support for their Common Entrance, or you had a son or daughter that struggled with one of their GCSEs, private tutoring has helped a lot of families with their educational needs. At Regency Tuition, we can vouch for the fact there is an increasing demand for reliable and talented tutors in this growing industry, and you may well be the answer.
One of the main perks, from a mum’s perspective, is how flexible the work can be. Whilst many tutees will be at school from 9am until 4pm, there are plenty of adult learners, university students with flexible hours and school pupils on study leave to fill in the gap. It should also be noted that home-schooling is becoming more and more commonplace, with parents across the country needing support for the subjects they aren’t capable of teaching themselves. With most tuition happening on an hourly basis, you can book it around your own commitments to avoid any clashes between work and home life.
Wide range of subjects:
People need tuition in dozens of different fields, so you don’t necessarily have to have trained formally as a teacher (although that would definitely be a plus!). If you did a degree in an interesting field, if you can speak another language, or even if you have a particular hobby or talent, there will definitely be people out there who want to learn. Regency Tuition have had requests for tuition in tapestry weaving, chess and flower arranging, as well as music lessons, English and foreign language tuition, and support for children in their early years. There is a whole host of subjects for which people want tuition, so don’t think you’ll only get work if you’re a maths professor!
Experience with children:
Regardless of whether you’ve ever had personal experience with tutoring or not, it’s completely understandable that most parents want tutors with childcare experience. In our experience, tutors with experience as teachers or parents are always high in demand. Not only is it reassuring to parents to have someone they can trust around their child, it tends to bring the best out in the child too. Finding someone who’s patient and kind, and knows exactly how to communicate with their son or daughter, is so important to these parents.
Great hourly rates:
Unlike many other part-time, flexible jobs, tutoring privately will earn you more than the standard £10/hour. Depending on how niche and in demand your subject is, you can comfortably charge £25-£35/hour. There is also the option of holding tuition sessions over Skype, which opens up the possibility of tutoring students further afield, or even abroad! Just a couple of sessions a week can pay the same as a full day’s work at the office.
Whilst all this might sound ideal, it is worth bearing in mind that tutoring isn’t for everyone. For a start, no matter how much you love your own children, you might well find that you can’t cope as well with other people’s! We always recommend a couple of trial sessions to check that there’s good compatibility between the student and the tutor, because the relationship between the two is so essential. It’s also important to know you can commit for a decent length as time, as too many changes in tutors can be very disruptive for the student. There are plenty clients looking for intensive sessions however, especially when it comes to teaching crafts and hobbies, so it might be possible to consolidate your lessons into a few afternoon sessions.
With so many different ways of going about it, tutoring privately can be a very interesting and rewarding career path for mums with lots of other commitments.
Author: Jeannette Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Tuition Co-ordinator for Regency Tuition, a tutoring agency that offers bespoke private and corporate tuition in all subjects, for all ages. Go to http://www.regencytuition.com/ for more details.
I recently experienced the frustration of missing a flight in France, thanks to 1,000 taxis blockading Toulouse airport to display their dissatisfaction of the threat brought to their profession by Uber. It made me think – not just about Uber, but Airbnb, Childcare.co.uk, eBay, Elance, Amazon and other similar websites that are allowing individuals to generate revenue through means other than standard employment. Could these be a solution to all of those mothers and fathers out there, unable to find the perfect paid flexible employment?
Advice – Offer a Flexible Job
At Workpond, we are committed to helping businesses improve their resourcing. We do this by teaching them how to attract the best talent – and one of our key pieces of advice is to make it a more flexible job. But we know that for every job we create, we could fill 10 more. So what about the unsuccessful candidates? What can they do?
Be Innovative about Wealth Creation
We find that when we speak to our candidates, both men and women, we discover that they are becoming increasingly innovative about how they generate wealth. It’s rather like the modern portfolio career, but rather than offering their services to many businesses, they are using their assets or time to generate wealth. Perhaps they rent their house out while they are on holiday; they babysit; they do small pieces of freelance work for businesses when needed. They sell second hand clothes, unwanted presents or their own crafted goods online (for themselves or others) or trade stocks and shares through a platform. These are fantastic ways of ensuring that they are creating wealth while they are waiting for the right timing to commit to a more permanent role or for the perfect flexible position, with the benefit that they are all totally flexible and in their control.
Time to Grow and Explore
There is no doubt that the majority of us are already independent wealth creators to different degrees and life events will certainly impact our level of activity. When starting a family, we all have a huge range of choices – whether to generate wealth by returning to work – or by building an extension. As our children grow and enter school and childcare needs change, our career aspirations and demands may evolve and we may choose to increase or decrease our work hours or elect to take a different career path and retrain. Time away from work can allow us to remove the blinkers, explore options, get creative and pursue other wealth generating activities, all thanks to the web and the plethora of options out there. Time away from work gives us the opportunity to try on a new career, just like you would try a new pair of shoes before you buy.
Could a Micro-business be the First Step to your Future Career?
So, do look at your options – thanks to the Internet, three of our team at Workpond set up their own modern micro-businesses when their children were small. This gave them real pleasure, something to channel their creative energies and experience into and taught them how businesses worked. It has certainly stood them in good stead. The experience has been valuable, it has made their CVs far more interesting and they have a great innovative story to tell at interview. So why not explore and enjoy seeking out new ways to generate wealth. They may lead to better things….
Author: Amanda Seabrook. Amanda is the MD and Founder of Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities.
One of the biggest problems that people face when starting their own business is finding the perfect name for their company. Choose the right name and it can help your company stand out and attract customers, choose the wrong name and it can set you up for failure. You need to find something which is catchy and interesting, which tells the buyer a bit about the product and why they want it. The more the name tells the consumers, the less you have to explain it.
If you are really struggling and don’t even know where to start, then there are tools out there which can help you choose the right name. In the end, chances are you will want to go with a name that you have thought of yourself and that your instinct tells you is right.
Get Creative About the Name for your New Company
So it’s time to get creative. One great way of coming up with a name is to brainstorm all your ideas. Send your kids out to play, grab yourself a coffee, and get thinking. Write down what your product does in layman’s terms, and then write down everything that you can think of which could portray that message in an interesting and quirky fashion. There isn’t really a set time in which to do it, as you could be hit by inspiration at any point. Give yourself a few attempts and don’t get disheartened when you can’t think of anything straight way.
Try not to tie your name down to your area, for example don’t call it ‘Surrey Stationary’ because there may be a time when you need to expand outside your initial remit. Find words that jump out at people and don’t fade into the background. Avoid cliches and don’t make the name so obscure that people will have no idea what service you offer.
Select Options for the Name for your New Company
Once you have a list of all the possible names it’s time to concentrate on the pros and cons of each possibility, slowly making your way down the list until you have two or three really good names. Make sure you have a look at The Companies House and do a Google search for each name to check that they are unique and haven’t already been used.
Test the Name for your New Company
Then it’s time to test the name with your target audience. You can do this by asking people on social media, email, or just asking around to see what name gets the best response.
One thing that a lot of people tend to forget about is remembering how important getting the domain name right is. According to Dan Coleman, Product Manager of The Formations Company, “one of the most important and often overlooked factors involving name choice is making sure that you get the .co.uk or .com domain name for the company name you choose, as this will help hugely with the authority of your company.” Once your company website goes live you don’t want it to fall to the wayside simply due to the domain name not standing out or being clear enough.
Once you are completely settled on the name for your new company register it quickly so that no one can get there before you. You can either register it yourself on The Companies House, or use a service such as The Formations Company, who will do all of the hard work quickly and efficiently.
Enjoy being a business owner!
Author: Amy Shaw, PR executive for The Formations Company. The Formations Company help people to register and form their own limited companies. They simplify the process by stripping away the unnecessary extras and giving new business owners the right kind of support, especially during the first part of their start up journey.
We are well aware of the sense of frustration most people have when searching for that perfect flexible job. Whilst your children are your prime concern, you may wish to work either for financial reasons or you want an outlet for your talents. Your talent that, pre children, took years of hard work to build up, could be wasted if the right opportunity doesn’t appear.
Here at Workpond we are passionate and positive about what the future for flexibility holds – see ‘Flexible Working – Predictions for the Year Ahead on the Future of Work‘. However, while we spend much of our time educating businesses about thow they can redesign roles to attract better talent, there is definitely scope for educating those seeking flexible work on how to be successful in winning the best opportunities.
Flexible work – the business view
To explain what we mean, it may be best to go back to the conversation that we have with our clients – the businesses. We spend much time persuading them, that if they are flexible about hours worked and remote working, they will broaden their pool of talent and increase the calibre enormously. Some are uncomfortable with the lack of control that flexible working brings to their processes – but we try to persuade them that they should focus on results – what do you want to achieve by recruiting this new person. What can they achieve – and to measure by results, rather than time at a desk. When we are successful, this conversation will result in a really interesting flexible role – if not, they will stick to their guns and advertise it full-time, as they have always done before. It is all a matter of demand and supply – there are many more people looking for flexible work from scratch than businesses looking for flexible workers. If employers don’t take advantage of this talent pool, they lose out on experienced talent that has taken years to build up.
Flexible work – the candidates view
On the other side of the equation are the candidates – mothers, fathers, and others looking for consulting or interim work, part-time work or remote working. We have those who are A* candidates and those who we know we will find hard to place – and the key to success is not how skilled or experienced they are, but how driven and flexible they are. Yes, flexible….
Very often mothers phone Workpond explaining that they are wanting to return to work. They don’t mind what they do, as long as they can work for 3 day a week in term time only. It is difficult for us to then match them to our clients as their purpose is not clear and they are inflexible about when they can work.
Flexible work – the successful candidates
The successful mothers and candidates (many of whom are men) that we help find work have a very different approach. They generally pick the phone up when they have seen a job advertised that they really like the look of. There is a flame that has been ignited in them. They want to work for our client because they love what they do. Once we have established that they are attracted to the culture and purpose of the company, and that their skills are aligned, the question of flexibility and pay will come up. Our best candidates are the ones that say that they are really grateful that the company is willing to give them flexibility – and in return, they too will be flexible (within reason).
Where our clients and our candidates align and where both are flexible we find that the best results occur. It is no surprise then that “We believe that best outcomes are achieved when people’s lives and business goals are shared”.
Author: Amanda Seabrook. Amanda is the director of Workpond, a resourcing consultancy helping experienced professionals find flexible opportunities.