Archive for June, 2011

Jill Bennett talks about her career change

Jill Bennett talks about her career change

I changed from a full-time senior government post to working part-time. Then I had a career change and I now work from home as a network marketer for Arbonne health and beauty products. I have 2 teenage children, and fit my work in around school hours.

Going part-time after maternity leave

For 30 years I worked for the Government. My career took me from an admin level to a senior management post and I worked in many different areas and four different Government Departments. For the most part I enjoyed my job, so I went back full-time after having my first child and never even thought about a career change. I quickly realised that I wanted to be at home more and was lucky enough to be given a part-time role – albeit not in my area of speciality and moving from project to project to roles considered suitable to do part-time.
When I had my second child, I returned after a slightly prolonged period of maternity leave, as I struggled with my baby daughter who wouldn’t take a bottle. After returning to work in a job I really didn’t enjoy, my young daughter started to be ill. She had several spells in hospital, but I managed to continue working as I had a wonderful nanny. When my nanny handed in her notice to take a full-time job with another family I knew I couldn’t leave my daughter with someone new as they wouldn’t understand her history so I took unpaid leave.
Within six months things improved and I returned to work and moved into a job I enjoyed – Head of Training and Development. After a while I was given more and more responsibility – I ended up with a team of 54 people – and found I couldn’t fit my work in three days a week anymore. My home life was suffering as well. I was unhappy and when I was offered severance, I took the chance and left.

Stay-at-home mum

For the next eighteen months I had fun, we moved house and I managed a building project; I did some charity work and spent more time with my children. But, I started to miss the stimulation of work and the company of other adults. My husband was starting to feel the pressure of being the only bread-winner and I realised I need to relieve him of some of this – mostly financial – pressure. I decided to look for a job.

Finding a new career

I had no success with my job applications. I didn’t want any of the responsibility I had in my last job. It had become really important to me to be able to drop the children off at school and pick them up each day. Most of my job applications were not even acknowledged.
One day at a charity coffee morning I was introduced to the concept of network marketing as a home based business opportunity. Initially I dismissed the idea, but I did go and find out more, and was convinced by the flexibility it offers and the possibility to run it from home with no investments.

I checked out several companies and looked for a company with good leadership, coaching and training. I satisfied myself that there’s a demand for the products that I would offer, and settled on the health and wellness market, as it is a huge and expanding market. Arbonne met all my criteria and I am now in business for myself but not by myself. My income is steadily growing and it really makes a difference financially, allowing a family holiday to South Africa this year.

Fitting work around the children

My children are 11 and 14 so still quite dependent on me especially for taxi services – including school runs as neither are at local schools. I probably work about 20 – 25 hours a week on average, which I fit in during school hours although I spend a couple of evenings a month attending meetings. I still have enough time for the children and can be around more easily during school holidays – in fact my team and I arrange holiday training and coaching at each other’s houses so the children can come with us! The household chores get fitted in around working although I do have a cleaner for a few hours a week.

Author: Jill Bennett – Jill invites you to come and have a look at her My Arbonne website,  if you know someone who is struggling financially and looking for a plan B – or someone who hates their job – and would like to be able to quit it someday, or you are a Mum who wants to start to earn her own money

Mary ann Palmer talks about returning to work

Mary ann Palmer talks about returning to work

I used to work as a New Product Development Manager, overseeing the Marketing Department in the food-business. Now I run my own personal training and fitness business. I have two children, aged 5 and 7, and I work in family down-time.

Opting out of my career

When I was pregnant with my first baby , I had every intention of returning to work once my maternity leave was up. I was working for a small food brands group as their New Product Development Manager but also overseeing the Marketing Department. If I had time to go to the toilet that was a luxury as I was extremely busy juggling projects which were either in the process of being launched or in the development phase leading up to the launch.

Shortly before my son was born,  I went to look at what were supposedly the best infant care institutions available  close to my  home and walked away feeling and knowing that I wouldn’t be able to leave my son at one of these. I had my husband’s full support and encouragement that once our son was born I would put my career on hold to do the child rearing. I had resisted this, thinking that I didn’t graduate with two degrees to give up on my career. 

Once the baby came along the reality of returning to work  was definitely not going to happen as my son went everywhere with me and the thought of leaving him with anyone was too difficult for me to bear. We were also in a very fortunate position that I didn’t need to work – my husband was now the sole breadwinner and he was very comfortable with this.

Identity crisis and … a new career

Whilst pregnant I continued to exercise as I have always been extremely active no matter what. I sought some exercise advice during pregnancy from my gym but it was very scarce and also inaccurate to say the least.  Once I had stopped bleeding and had the all clear from my doctor, I started running again – about 6 weeks post natally – only this time with the pram!  All my exercise opportunities had to include my son as I never contemplated child care as well as the fact that I have no family close by. 

As a woman, I feel that we constantly have to reinvent ourselves career-wise if we want to stay in the game as when children come along we need to adapt to this new phase. I had already been through my identity crises in roughly the first 6 month’s of my son’s life – who and what am I?  Especially when people asked: ‘what do you do?’ I no longer had a separate bank account where my earnings went into but now had a joint account with my husband. I was so not  used to contributing financially – not that this was ever an issue for my husband.

Over time I grew used to the changes and accepted them. After all I had a beautiful son. About one year later when I could almost see the light of day, considering how sleep deprived I was – I don’t think that I fell into a deep enough sleep to actually dream for the first two years of my son’s life – I decided that there was an opportunity for me to start ‘exercise with your baby’ type  classes. I already had my aerobics instructor’s  qualification which I had completed in my early twenties when working for Unilever.

Starting my new business

I looked for the best ante/post natal fitness instructor’s course available in the UK and signed up for it with my husband’s consent. We all drove up to York so that my husband could look after our now toddler during the day while I was on course.  Shortly after this I started advertising via flyers at the various mother and tots playgroups that I  took my son to and rounded up about two groups worth of clients.

Initially I called it ‘Pram-er-cise’  – exercise with your baby. I also managed to teach aerobics at a gym that didn’t mind my baby sitting in the pram watching us. Now both my kids – yes I went for round two – are both at school – aged 5 and 7 –  for most of the day; my business has evolved into personal training as well as more group sessions. I have a string of various fitness qualifications under my belt ranging from Boxercise to Pilates.  As well as running my own classes , I teach at local gyms.

Fitting a career around my family commitments

This ‘new career’ is nothing like my old one. It brings in a bit of pocket-money  and makes me feel like I am doing something by keeping me quite busy along with the drudgery of the daily household chores. My work doesn’t impose on my husband’s or children’s time. So it is my ‘little separate thing,’ so to speak. I have met  and helped loads of people attain their fitness goals and hopefully educated many post natal women about the abdominal muscles.

I have no further help apart from an occasional baby-sitter, as I have no family near, so I fit my work in around all those other tasks. The important thing for me throughout all of my personal transitions is being able to put my family first and work in the family ‘downtime.’

Author: Mary-Ann Palmer is a highly experienced personal trainer who specialises in fitness for mums in the Richmond area. Have a look at the fitness for mums site to find out about personal or open air group sessions