Category: Real-life Stories of Returning

Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? - Emma's Story

Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? – Emma’s Story

Before my maternity leave began, I was asked many times if I was going to go back to work. At the time I felt unsure but hoped I would make the right choice when the time approached.

Now I am about to go back, I am still unsure. That’s because whatever I had chosen to do, I’d still feel guilty.

Staying at Home – My Thoughts

If I stay home, I’m relying on my husband’s income which would put a strain on us. Then I’d have to ask him for money – he’d be paying for his own birthday and Christmas presents…

Then what would the rest of the family think? Am I a stay at home Mum or an unemployed person?

I’d also consider the lack of adult company. I could go along to toddler groups, but that involves conversations about babies. I wouldn’t mind that of course, but for how long? My job isn’t particularly challenging mentally, but I still need to do a bit of thinking. However, with baby brain, that makes me nervous.

Going Back to Work – My Thoughts

Then going back to work can have it’s down sides. Apart from the early morning stress of getting everyone up, washed dressed, fed and out of the house on time, there’s the worry of leaving my lovely bundle of joy all day long.

Will the childminder know all of her little quirks? When she’s tired will she just want Mummy? Then there’s the other children who could pick on her. She’s just a baby after all.

Okay, so it’s all about character building and not wrapping her up in cotton wool, but there’s no way I want to miss those milestones. I want to see her first steps.

Make the Most of Maternity Leave

The one thing I made sure I did was savour every day I had with my baby when I was off work. I did things I probably wouldn’t get the chance to do once I was back.

I did every baby group going from Yoga to Zumbini. I even did stuff around the house and garden I wouldn’t normally do.

It can be lonely with a small baby all day long, so I checked out what was going on at the local children centres.

What’s Best for You and Baby

I made the personal choice to return to work part time. That way I could still keep my job with a possibility of going back full time again one day.

As my daughter is getting older, she’s becoming more independent. There’s more to life than hanging out with Mum. She wants to go off and play and learn with the other children. In another year, she’ll be going to pre-school. Then what will I do?

At least going back gives me options. If it works then that’s great. I’ve got a little independence myself, a small amount of income and something else in my life to focus on. It’s all about adjusting and just trying to get the balance right.

If it doesn’t work, then it’s back to the drawing board. I just need to remember why I need a job and why my baby might actually appreciate that in the long run.

Author: Emma Harvey, Emma is a working mother with a 12 year old and a 9 month old. She works in the care sector and has just returned from maternity leave as a trainer. She writes and blogs in her spare time. Read more on Emma’s own blog: HubPages

Benefits of being a Working Mother: Life as a parent can help work focus

Benefits of being a Working Mother: Life as a parent can help work focus

Life before kids, wow, what a difference! Before having kids you’re repeatedly told life will be so different when you have kids! All my friends and family with children seemed happy – gloating even to remind me of this when I was pregnant with my first child Isabella – so much so, I was truly scared of life after pregnancy!

However, when Isabella was born, I didn’t know what they had been talking about and I was annoyed at being unnecessarily scared, I felt tricked, life with a baby was far easier than the terrors I’d imagined. New babies are quite mobile and we just took her with us when we wanted to go out for an evening. She wasn’t particularly good at sleeping in the early days, but I would have a lie-in when she would sleep in after having screamed for much of the night. I found the differences between ‘before’ and ‘after’ only truly emerged after about a year, when I found myself pregnant for a second time and also facing the prospect of going back to work.

My contract as a research scientist ended when Isabella was about ten months old. I had to start the hunt for work – this was certainly not as easy as it was in the olden days – job hunts involved staying a bit late at work or doing some work at weekends.  So, my job hunt became more focused – and was limited to Isabella’s 45-minute naps and the odd 30 minutes I could grab in the evening! It meant there was no time to dawdle and soon as she was asleep I would grab my computer and apply to jobs or prepare for interviews. I was more focused than on previous job hunts, particularly as I wanted to change career and move into Med Comms. I had well-kept lists and folders of jobs applied to, skills required, dates job applications expired and nice neat folders with cover letters and CVs tailored to each type of job. I found Isabella was a good audience during the day if I needed to practice a presentation! This job search successfully culminated in a medical writing internship whilst pregnant with my son.

When my son was born, I knew I didn’t want a big gap on my CV without work, so from when he was about five months onwards I wrote blogs for a genome engineering post and did freelance work editing a book. Life was slightly easier in one sense, because Isabella was in childcare two days a week and Marcus loved sleeping! He could sleep for three hours a day. So, twice a week for up to three hours at a time, I got on with my book editing, which involved finding authors for book chapters, sending them contracts, editing various versions of their chapters and liaising with Springer for the final print version. Again, I was highly organised (not a skill I had pre-children), as soon as Marcus’s head hit the pillow I was checking emails and the only way I could work effectively was to have well categorised email and document folders clearly labelled with who I had contacted, who I needed to contact and what drafts each of the chapters were on.

Then, again came the challenge, I wanted a ‘proper job’, one that would get me out of the house and use the skills I’d gained from my postdocs, writing and editing; Med Comms again, was definitely my focus. I signed up with some agencies and using the skills I’d gained from job applications with Isabella, I secured a medical writing position with Synergy Vision; I even had my first telephone interview with Sarah Nelson the editorial lead whilst Marcus was sleeping upstairs!

This was when I had to really focus, working five days a week with both children unsettled and waking up in the night, having to learn a relatively new ‘trade’ on little sleep was taxing to say the least. But I found the best way to cope was by keeping my ‘focus’ – reminding myself of the fantastic opportunity I’d been given and knuckling down as soon as I got into work, using the train journey to clear my mind of child-related issues! As work time is limited and I want to be there for my kids at the end of the day, the time from 9–5:30 needs to be utilised well. I make this work by planning in advance, giving myself deadlines and making sure every bit of the working day is used effectively. If there is any spare time, I start on another piece of work, or do research for an up and coming project.

In a way it helps because I always feel like I’m working on borrowed time – my biggest fear is my children catching chicken pox. They’ve been fairly well since I’ve started except for the odd gastric bug, but I could be off for a couple of weeks when this happens, so working in as far advance as possible is the only way to plan for these types of ‘crises’. Of course, to avoid burn out it’s impossible to be always working nine to the dozen, but to be honest a cup of coffee whilst reading my emails is enough of a break when children are involved. Plus, fitting all work into a standard working day means that I can truly relax when I’m at home.

And yes, life has changed beyond comprehension, all those people were right, smug so-and-sos!

Author: Ella Palmer. Emma is one of the Medical Writer/Editors of Synergy Vision. Synergy Vision is a medical communication agency based in North West London, with 27 employees (37% of staff are part time and 95% are women). 

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave - Emma's Story

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave – Emma’s Story

Making the decision to return to work after having a baby can be one of the toughest you’ll make. Some Mum’s feel that financially it’s something they will have to do, whilst others want to go back to maintain their career.

Getting the balance right could be trial and error, but making sure it works for all the family could take a bit of juggling.

When Should I Return to Work?

Before going on maternity leave I was given the company’s policy on entitlement to leave and pay, and then you have to decide when to return to work.

When I had my son, I went back to work after four months of maternity leave. He was only three months old, and while I was only working on a part time basis it was just way too early. As I just wasn’t ready I left the company which put a huge strain on us in regards to income. However, when he was nine months old I began working again. I was more comfortable with him being older and becoming more independent.

Twelve years later, my baby girl was born and I made the decision to take the full year off.

This time I was lucky enough to ease back into things by working from home to begin with, and this actually encouraged me to go back early.

How long you choose to take off work will depend on you’re financial situation and your personal feelings. Some Mum’s enjoy having the time off to spend with their little one, but some miss the adult company and simply want the break away from dirty nappies and Cbeebies!

If you have a good relationship with your manager, you may be able to negotiate or alter your job role to suit your needs better.

Part Timer

If you previously worked on a full time basis, reducing your hours could make the transition run a little smoother. Working fewer days or shortening them down will give you and your baby time to adjust to the changes. When once it was just the two of you, suddenly baby needs to get used to spending the days with someone else and possibly in a new environment.

Think through your decision to cut your hours though, if one day to want to go back to full time. Your employer may not be able to offer those hours again for you in the future.

Making it Easy For Baby – Childcare Options

Before you go back to work, you will constantly think about who is going to look after your baby. You can find more information here on childminders, nurseries, nannies and au-pairs or more information on finding and managing childcare.

If you are lucky to have a family member who is willing and able, or you are sharing the childcare with your partner, then you don’t have the stress of going out there and finding someone. You’ll have the benefit of knowing the person well, and it’s a familiar face for baby.

If you need to seek an alternative then do your research well in advance. Search what is available to you in your area and always go with your gut feeling. Use some of your time on maternity leave, to search for local child care services. Send out some emails and arrange to make visits. It’s easy to stress out when you feel the first one you see isn’t what you want to go with. It may take a while, but you’ll know when it’s right. Arrange some settling in sessions to see how you and baby copes, so everything is in place when the time comes for you to get back to work.

Check out childcare costs and any entitlements you have with help towards those costs. If your company offers childcare vouchers then you can pay into the scheme from your salary, pre-tax, which can save you money in the long run.

Author: Emma Harvey, Emma is a working mother with a 12 year old and a 9 month old. She works in the care sector and has just returned from maternity leave as a trainer. She writes and blogs in her spare time. Read more on Emma’s own blog: HubPages

 

 

Creating my own Flexible Work - Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

Creating my own Flexible Work – Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

When Vicky Matthews took voluntary redundancy from a high-street bank after the birth of her second child, she vowed no-one she ever employed would suffer the same inflexible and negative experience she’d endured since becoming a mum. She really needed flexible work.

Now, seven years on, Vicky employs three very happy part-time staff in the head office of her personal assistant business, Pink Spaghetti, all of whom work around their busy family commitments.

Inflexible Employer

“I’d worked in project management for the same high street bank since starting as a graduate trainee,” explains Vicky. “When I became pregnant, I requested a three day working week after maternity leave. This was declined and I was told four days was my only part time option. A job-share was never considered.

“An even bigger blow came when I was told my current senior management position was not feasible on a part time basis and that I would need to take on a new, lower, middle management role.

“I had been their golden girl but when I returned from maternity leave, I felt my position within the company was tainted. My opportunities for promotion and recognition were gone, so after the birth of my second child three years later, I took voluntary redundancy.”

A New Start – Flexible Working

After taking time out to spend with her young family for a couple of years, a chance meeting at a baby swimming class saw the beginning of a partnership that would see Vicky’s dream of creating flexible employment come true. A poolside chat with her now business partner, Caroline Gowing, revealed the pair had all-too-similar experiences and after discussions about their respective talents and experience, the foundations were laid for an award-winning business venture.

In 2009, three years after their first meeting and with Vicky’s youngest child still at home, the friends launched Pink Spaghetti, a home-based, pay-as–you-go personal assistant service. Clients aren’t tied by a monthly retainer and only pay for the hours they need, which is a major selling point for the predominantly female, home-based clients who are often juggling work and childcare.

Pink Spaghetti, whose strapline is ‘Let us be your 25th hour,’ will take on any task from its clients and to-do lists frequently include the bizarre alongside the mundane. Sourcing reindeer for a Christmas event and attending a client’s wedding as a paid witness have featured alongside travel booking, running social media accounts, holiday cover, managing email newsletters and book keeping.

Growing the Business – Franchise Holder

The formula proved a resounding success, so much so that after three years of steady growth Vicky and Caroline decided to grow their business through franchising and now operate in 10 UK territories, from Chester to Portsmouth.The flexibility the pair needed in their own lives has proved a major pull for franchisees, almost all of whom have children and tales of inflexible employers forcing them out of the workplace.

“Our franchisees come to us with years of valuable business experience and yet find themselves unable to find a job that fits around their families,” says Caroline. “We have franchisees from all backgrounds, but they all share the same desire to not have to choose between work and family.

“From our own experience, we knew that our business model works as both a part time opportunity, to fit around the school day or nursery hours, and that it can also be scaled up as the children get older.

“One of our franchisees has proved just how scalable the business is, by buying a second neighbouring territory and taking on employees of her own. We also have franchisees with very young children who work just a few hours each day. They know that the opportunity for expansion is there once it suits their family.”

Flexible Work from Home

Ever since that first meeting in the swimming baths, flexibility has been the driving force behind Pink Spaghetti. As owners, Vicky and Caroline have the flexibility to manage their business in a way that suits them. For clients, the Pink Spaghetti service frees up much-needed time, and for franchisees, Vicky and Caroline’s model allows them to grow their franchise at their own rate and fit in work around their own commitments.

But, more importantly, the pair have been able to provide flexible employment to busy working parents. Pink Spaghetti’s head office, in Northwich, employs three part-time members of staff. Lucy works school hours four days a week. Katherine does three days, two to fit around school times and a third shorter one to allow for a nursery pick up. Leigh-Anne is currently on maternity leave, but before the birth of her second child she was able to work two long days at the office in order to make the most of her son’s hours at nursery. When she returns from maternity leave, Leigh-Anne has opted to switch to two short days.

This flexible and family friendly approach was cited as a best practice case study in a report handed out at a recent Working Families conference. The charity was greatly encouraged that employees can pick their own working hours, and are able to change them at short notice, where feasible.

“By accommodating our employees’ needs for flexible working we are offering them the kind of benefit that money can’t buy,” says Vicky. “In return, employees work harder and have more work satisfaction as their needs are being met and their voices heard, which is key for retention.

“After what I went through in my previous job, I feel very strongly that I want to set an example to other employers.”

But what about Vicky? Her business is providing a positive work life balance for her employees and franchisees, but has she achieved the flexibility she was striving for?

“I work from home, I can do the school drop off and pick up and I don’t have to miss important milestones like special assemblies and sports days.

“I love my work, both servicing our own Pink Spaghetti clients here in mid-Cheshire and supporting our franchisees to grow their own businesses. When I took voluntary redundancy seven years ago, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. It’s been a fascinating journey and I wouldn’t change any of it.”

 

Author: PR Agent on behalf of Vicki

April 2015 (2)Attached picture (left to right) Aylesbury & High Wycombe franchisee Rachel Martin, Pink Spaghetti co-owner Vicky Matthews, Luton & Bedford franchisee Anne Little, Pink Spaghetti co-owner Caroline Gowing

Interview with A Returner from Credit Suisse Returners Programme

Interview with A Returner from Credit Suisse Returners Programme

Julianne Miles interviews Julia Dawson, a 2014 Real Returns participant to find out more about her experiences in last years Credit Suisse Returners Programme and to get her advice on applying for and making the most of a returnship.

What prompted you to apply for Real Returns?

I had read about returnships in the United States and so knew about the concept. I had been on a career break to raise a family for over three years and was interested in going back into banking but not into equity sales where I had spent the previous 11 years. The Real Returns programme at Credit Suisse seemed to open up new opportunities, allowing me to apply my skills and experience to a different area.

What were the benefits to you of the Real Returns programme?

The programme offered an open door back to banking with no downside and great potential upside. The 10-week framework structured around the school terms allowed me to trial a return to the workplace without too much disruption to my family routines. It was an easier transition than going straight back into a permanent role and gave me the opportunity to really show what I could do.

Real Returns gave me a lot of confidence – it was fantastic to see so many capable women finding their feet. The peer group was a really positive aspect, as we were all in it together. There was more involvement from very senior management than you might think – you get amazing access as everyone was interested in finding out more about the inaugural Real Returns cohort.

What type of work did you do?

I led a research project on diversity, The Credit Suisse Gender 3000, a subject that remains very relevant and incredibly interesting. [Julia’s research report was published in September 2014]. All the participants were involved with business critical projects and made a significant contribution.

What support did you receive?

We had support from the programme managers throughout the 10 weeks. In addition, each returner was assigned a mentor – a great point-person for introductions, particularly for people looking more broadly within the bank for opportunities. We also received training and career coaching, which I was initially sceptical about but found extremely rewarding and eye-opening on a personal and professional level.

What happened at the end of the programme?

I was offered a full-time job in equity research within the Thematics team. I was appointed as a Managing Director, the same level as I was prior to my career break, so I have not had to take a step down in my career progression at all.

What advice would you give to potential applicants to Real Returns or other returnships?

Be honest about who you are in your application and get your application in as soon as possible – you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. It is a wonderful way to get back to work and maybe to try something new in a related field.

What advice would you give to future returnship participants?

Several things made this a valuable experience for me. I would advise other participants to network as much as possible – take the opportunities given to you. Keep an open mind about the areas that might interest you – coming back to work brings a great freshness and invigoration and many departments want to take advantage of this. Make the most of the coaching sessions as they can be very revealing and rewarding. And finally, really showcase your contribution on the program – you are part of a valuable talent pool so show what you can still do and have to offer.

Any final comments?

I was surprised how little pressure I felt once I got through the door. It was thoroughly enjoyable and invigorating. I am extremely happy to be back at work.
julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

Part-time working - 2 mums show how they make it work

Part-time working – 2 mums show how they make it work

Have you ever seen any of the Indiana Jones films? They’re pretty great for keeping the whole family involved; plenty of perilous adventure to keep the kids and the other half entertained, while also sporting enough of Harrison Ford’s rugged 1980s physique to keep us ladies watching.

In the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there’s an iconic scene in which “Indy” finds himself gazing upon the legendary Holy Grail. The only problem is, it’s on the other side of a bottomless chasm.

In the end, it takes a leap of faith for Indy to find there was a way across all along.

I can’t help but think, though, that this seems to be the case for too many mothers approaching the idea of flexible work. It seems almost too good to be true, dangling just out of our reach, demanding a leap of faith that – unlike the care-free archaeologist-adventurer himself – we can’t risk when our children are at stake.

But it doesn’t have to be a leap of faith. There are other mothers who have leapt that chasm, and are living proof that balancing a job and a child is possible.

20140827_163435~2A New Routine

I interviewed two mums employed at Love Energy Savings to find out how they struck the balance between a healthy work life and time spent with their children. Shabs works around her nine-month-old daughter Sienna Luciana by working 8 till 5 every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Figuring out what hours I would work was fairly straightforward,” she said about her return to the job. “It simply came down to sitting down with my boss and having an honest, open discussion about what would be best for me and my daughter, and how we could balance that with what would be best for the company.”

Shabs works the first half of the week because it helps take some of the workload off the shoulders of her colleagues, which tends to mount up at the beginning of the week and cools off by Thursday afternoon.

The Right Balance

In order to help maintain a healthy career path, Shabs explained that she actually works some extra hours for the company when it’s required for the business. “Doing so much work in such a short time span may be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding,” she affirmed. “It means that I don’t have to put my career on the back burner while I’m spending time with Sienna, which is a dream for me.”

Tracey Mort, another working mum at the company, also works the first three days of the week. “I do feel bad not being here on Thursday and Friday,” she said. “But I don’t want to put my daughter into nursery five days a week. I’m essentially paying someone else to do something that I love; spending time with my child.”

Tracey has a two-year-old daughter called Lilley, whom she looks after at home outside of her part-time hours. “We can’t afford full-time nursery fees,” she explained, “so I have required flexible hours since starting. Phil, our director, was very accommodative.”

“My working days are also based on what works for my childcare needs,” Shabs noted. “They actually complement each other quite well. I think it helps that the three-day sprint allows me to get into ‘work mode’ rather than a more intermittent schedule, meaning that I can work more efficiently while I’m there.”

20140827_163536~2A Good Support Network

Both mums affirmed that one of the key components in establishing a healthy work-life balance is having a great support network on-hand. “Lilley’s grandparents are a big help,” noted Tracey, who credits them with helping babysitting during out of work hours. “It means that every now and again Lilley can spend time with her family when I need time to wind down, or if it’s date night.”

One of the biggest aids for Shabs was having a good relationship with her employer. “Having a network of family and friends is always going to be a big help, but establishing a healthy relationship with your employer is beneficial for both parties,” she continued.

“If you show your managers that you still want to do the best you can for the company, and that you can work hard during the hours you’re in the office, they tend to be far more understanding about flexible hours.”

Author: Hazel Deller writes for Love Energy Savings. Business energy comparison specialists who lower business energy bills through their free & impartial services. Love Energy Savings help business owners to improve their profits by reducing their day to day outgoings, saving valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers.

An Unemployed Mother Becomes an Independent Financial Adviser

An Unemployed Mother Becomes an Independent Financial Adviser

How do some women seem so focused and clear in their decisions? How do they turn their lives around and turn the worse situation into a positive outcome? Here’s my story and how I turned everything around, and started my business in financial advice.

Experience in Finance

My business, Evolution for Women, was a dream on scrap bits of paper, years of ideas that have become something. It started at 19, and working as a temp cashier for Alliance & Leicester. The love of clients and helping people fast tracked my career and at the age of 27 I was a Regional Sales Manager, managing a large, all male, self-employed Independent Mortgage and Financial Adviser team. My responsibility was to manage sales and train the advisors to an exceptional level, I was my job and my job was me. If I went out to a party and people asked what do you do, I would say ‘I am a regional sales manager’ and I would feel proud!

Pregnant and unemployed

After a few years, I found out I was pregnant. I paced the room for hours…at 14 weeks pregnant I was being made redundant. My life was over. How could I go to job interviews with a huge bump? How would I explain maternity leave? How could I work full time with a baby? By June 2008 the recession hit and my daughter was 2 months old. Signing on was my lowest point! I was over qualified for the majority of the jobs I was going for or they were in completely different industries. When going out to meet people and they asked what do you do, I would say ‘just a mum’ with a smile on my face however felt so low and that my identity was gone. I was lost.

Returning to work

Being head hunted by my old boss, I found myself back in financial services again and back to what I was good at! I was very nervous, not as confident as I was before. I had to learn the products and processes all over again. I just pushed myself as hard as I could, telling myself ‘you can do it – you did it before – you can do it again’.

The job was a love/hate relationship, loving the relationship with clients and helping people to overcome their issues and plan for their future. However it also reminded me of everything I didn’t like about financial services. I seemed to have changed, softened, the hard sales lines, high fees and even tougher targets didn’t sit well with me anymore. The client never came first and the sale always did! On top of that, I was now a mum, juggling working in a tough sales environment and the needs of my own family.

The birth of my own business

After many sleepless nights and much soul searching Evolution for Women was born in February 2011.

I am writing this article with my daughter giggling in her bedroom whilst I work in my home office in half term. I have my pa on the phone from main office discussing the goals for the week. My daughter and I are off to a play date in ..oops now.

This is how my life is. It works for me. I am organised and manage every body’s expectations. Everybody wins; I have weekends with the family. I take my daughter to school every day and pick her up. I attend as many school plays and assemblies as I can. I sometimes have to work in an evening for a client appointment, this is when the support of my husband is fantastic and he completely takes over putting her to bed and making sure she is happy. I take my hat off to single mums who manage to juggle life and family alone.

So what tips can I give new mums or mums wanting to start their own business?

1) There is always a compromise. It might be you don’t make the gym one week, or the hovering doesn’t get done. You can’t do it all perfectly.

2) Do one thing at a time. Otherwise you don’t do anything right. Plan out your actions and make them time bound.

3) If you aren’t working, you aren’t working. Turn the phone off and social media off. We aren’t able to operate at our best 24 hours a day. Find a way to switch your brain off and let it go, let your mind drift and just relax. Taking a day out of your business for yourself can have a massive positive impact on your business. Some of my best ideas have come from standing in the shower or lying in bed on a Sunday morning.

4) Find a business buddy, someone you trust and can share ideas with and together you can set targets and deadlines so you have some accountability.

5) Get help on the areas that don’t come natural to you. So if you’re not already social media experts get the help from someone who can train you or provide that support. You can’t be all things to all people.

Hard work and persistence

Of course there can be down sides to running a business. The tips above have been learnt from experience. It has taken much determination and not just hard work, that is a given. It has taken a strong level of will power to not give up at the first or second or third or even forth hurdle.

Making it work with childcare

I have help from after school clubs, a baby sitter and a friend who does the school pick up when needed. I have a dog sitter to look after my other two babies in my life. In the school holidays I have a day swap with another mum who works full time, this is a great way to save money and get to spend time with my daughter.

Is it worth it?

But why have I done this? Why have I put myself through such a mental challenge when my life could be so much easier? The alternative to me is working part time doing a job that brings me no satisfaction, no challenge or gives me motivation to push myself in life. Or it is a job which I would find rewarding however I wouldn’t get to spend time with my daughter and the job would dictate my life. Instead I wanted to create my own path and my own opportunity to create a life that works for me.

I love helping my clients and giving them impartial advice on their finances. The client comes first in my business, but my family comes first in my life. “A mum on a mission”.

profile pic 2Author: Rebecca Robertson runs Evolution for Women. She is a  financial planner and works completely independent. She lives in Kent. She advises on mortgages, personal and business protection (insurance) and  helps you plan your estate. 

Flexible Working - Naheed Khan shares her story

Flexible Working – Naheed Khan shares her story

Naheed Khan is an optician, has studied during pregnancy and now works flexibly. Malti, one of our volunteers, went to find out how she makes flexible working work.

 

What is your job and what does your working pattern look like?

I worked initially as an optical assistant. During my first pregnancy, I was studying to be a dispensing optician. I actually sat the final exam about 4 days before giving birth to my daughter Saamiyah who was born in December 1997.

I went back to work one day a week (Saturday) once my daughter was about 5 months old. Gradually over 2 years or so I built up to 3 days a week – this included 2 weekdays and a Saturday.

My son Riyadh was born about 5 years after my daughter. I again did the same thing, working on Saturdays a few months after he was born and building up to 3 days a week after a couple of years.

 

Why did you want to work part-time?

I love my children but I really wanted adult stimulation and I also loved my job. At the same time, I wanted to work on my own terms, i.e. not full-time but enough to give me time with my children and that adult stimulation I needed.

 

Was it difficult changing your job into a part-time one and how did your managers feel about this?

My bosses were brilliant and said I could come back whenever I wanted and do whatever hours I could. I know I’ve been very lucky in that regard. My bosses have always supported me in my choices after having my children. In both cases, I went back to work on just Saturdays so my husband and in-laws looked after the children. I then built up gradually over 2 years to working 2 weekdays and a Saturday.

After having my daughter, I felt nervous and unsure about going back to work and thought I may have forgotten things. However my bosses were very encouraging and I got into the swing of it quite easily, plus it helped having my regular customers back.

Going back to work after having my son was much easier and I felt a lot more confident.

 

What worked well in combining part-time work and a family, what didn’t work so well?

A part-time job gave me what I needed at that time – adult stimulation but also the ability to spend more time with my children. I was living with my in-laws – which is not unusual for in our culture – when my daughter was born so childcare was no problem. By the time my son was born we had our own house. The main thing was juggling childcare and working.

My husband Mizan supported me in going back to work part-time. Once we had our own place, there was more juggling involved but having my mum and in-laws around helped a great deal.

 

What did a typical day look like?

There was a lot of driving involved – looking back I probably drove more than worked some days. During school-time my hours were 10-2pm. We lived in Hampstead and I worked in Hounslow so I’d drop my daughter to school and my son in a private nursery and then drove to work. Finishing at 2pm meant I did the reverse run and could pick up my children after school. During school holidays I’d work extended hours and my mum would look after the children or she would come and stay with us.

 

What would you change if you could or are things fine as they are?

I suppose there are pros and cons in everything but overall things have been fine. Without my in-laws and mum, it would have been difficult going back to work since I wanted to ensure my children were with people I knew. In fact, I’m not sure I would have gone back without them there, so that stability allowed me to pursue a part-time role.

Author: Malti