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Working Flexibly and Returning to Workplace – Should you feel guilty?

Working Flexibly and Returning to Workplace – Should you feel guilty?

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 Flexy, 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.

Tips for Freelance Mothers: How to Manage Your Finances

Tips for Freelance Mothers: How to Manage Your Finances

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:


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.

What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

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. 

Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

Trailing spouses are known for making the ultimate sacrifice; they give up their careers and lives at home to follow their partners overseas. But rather than see it as a negative, we choose to see it as a wonderful opportunity. A chance to experience an unknown culture, see the kids thrive in a fresh environment and try out a new career.

TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is a great option for women who want to make the most of their new life abroad. Here’s why:

The Job Market is Huge

Recent estimates suggest there are currently more than 1 billion people learning English around the world. The British Council predicts that number will double by 2020.

As you can imagine, with that many students there is huge demand for teachers. There are plenty of positions available, particularly in Asia, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe but even English-speaking countries have their share of vacancies too.

Finding vacancies is simply a matter of searching online job boards, contacting local language schools or advertising your services privately.

Hours to Suit the Kids

This is probably the most important factor for working mums. You want a career and a life outside of the home, but you also want to be there for the kids (and your spouse).

Teaching is the ideal solution, not least because you’ll get school holidays off! Whether you choose to work for yourself or work part or full-time in a school, you won’t be away from home for much longer than the kids. Working hours that complement their schedule saves massively on childcare costs too.

You Can Work for Yourself

If the thought of working in a school fills you with cold dread or you need really flexible hours there’s the option to teach privately instead.

Many experienced English Language teachers move onto private tutoring as they love the freedom it allows. It can also be very lucrative, with tutoring rates starting £15+ an hour. And don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need experience, just a willingness to work hard and promote yourself to prospective students.

You Can Work Anywhere in the World

Even back home! If you relocate to another country or move back home, you can bring your skills and experience with you.

As already mentioned, there are TEFL jobs all over the world and an abundance of vacancies for experienced teachers (and even inexperienced ones). There are very few jobs that travel as well as TEFL.

The Skills are Transferable

Teaching English abroad will boost your CV with a whole host of transferable skills. The skills and experience you’ll gain whilst teaching will be highly desirable to other employers. This is really useful if you return home or decide on a different career path.

So if you want to boost your confidence, improve your communication, IT and language skills, learn to become adaptable, creative and resourceful, teaching is for you.

You Can Train in a Matter of Weeks

Qualifications aren’t always necessary to get a job teaching English. If you’re a native (or very fluent) English speaker, most employers will consider you.

However you will increase your prospects – and your confidence – if you complete a TEFL qualification.

Fortunately, you don’t need to go back to university for 3 years. You can learn online. TEFL certification courses range from 120 – 150 hours, so if you’re in a pinch, you can gain your qualification in a matter of weeks.

It’s Really Rewarding

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. Whether you’re privately tutoring a young adult hoping to land that exciting overseas job or a group of young children in a school, you’re practically guaranteed job satisfaction.

Sure, it can be very hard work and frustrating at times, but teaching English as a foreign language is one of the best ways to kick-start a career abroad. Why not consider it today?

Author: Mark Johnson is an experience TEFL teacher which saw him visit Asia. Upon returning to the his home country he began working for ICAL TEFL in the hope of inspiring others to take a similar career choice. Find out more about ICAL TEFL.

Shared Office, Working from Home

Working from Home or in a Shared Office?

Working from home is great. No commute, work anytime you like and wear anything you want. Then again, there are distractions, and it’s easy not to get anything done at home. So, when working from home, I have often wondered if it would be better to have a flex office somewhere or just a flex desk in a shared office space. Especially on those days where I have 2 meetings in the city and end up trying to get work done in a place like Starbucks, Costa or Eat in between.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to try it out last week when I was offered a day at a Regus shared office in London.

Morning commute

It got off to a good start. I dressed in office attire, and joined the commuters right after school drop-off. I felt really professional travelling in, reading my morning newspaper and being part of that world of work that I have said goodbye to when I started working from home many years ago. Nice to be back.

The building was only one tube stop from Waterloo, and it was only a matter of minutes before I had reached the Regus building. Great commute.

Settling into my Shared Office

Reception staff were kind and efficient and quickly showed me to my office, explaining all practicalities on the way. I installed myself in my cubicle, and got down to work.

I loved having everything there: the desk, the set of plugholes for my equipment and even an in tray and a pencil holder. It all looked and felt very professional and efficient, unlike the invariably cluttered desk I use when working from home.

There was nothing there to distract me, and I was surrounded by people who were all working too, so it should have helped me to get lots done quickly.  In reality though, it took me a while to get settled in. It’s like that first day in the office. All your colleagues look really busy and you are still wondering where on earth to start, how to get the coffee machine working and who best to ask where the loo is.

When I had just got my coffee, a working wifi, and everything I needed dug up from my bag my guest had already arrived.

Receiving Guests in a Shared Office

I chose a day on which I also had an external appointment, so I could receive them in a professional environment. It worked brilliantly. I offered them a choice of coffees, teas and water (all complimentary with the Regus booking) and we found some lovely comfy chairs with a view over London for our chat. When we were done I could even offer her a place in my room to finish some work, as guests are allowed to share the room with you.

Get Organised in a Shared Office

Now that I felt more settled the afternoon went by quickly and I did get lots of work done. That’s also when I learned that if I want to do this more often I need to get organised, as it turned out I didn’t have access to some key documents I needed.

It was great to have a private desk for work that required focus and concentration, and for listening to  a webinar (forgot my headphones). I love being part of the buzz in an office too though, so for the last hour I chose to work on the larger, shared desks, and that worked very well.

On the way home I reflected it had been a productive day in the office. Unfortunately that’s when the trains were delayed and I was late for school pick-up.  Ah yes, I had been too optimistic and forgot I used to allow some extra time when I still did commute and had to make it home in time for pick-up.

Working from Home – Is it Better?

I can definitely recommend working in a shared office, as a change from working from home. It’s ideal for receiving clients, a great place to work in-between appointments and there are no distractions.

Having a choice of meeting rooms, shared space, private offices and meeting booths offers all you need. If you only do it once, there’s not much benefit to it, but if you do it regularly you will get organised and it will be a valuable addition to your work-life.

I would definitely do it again. Thank you Regus.


Tips for working in a shared office, and on the go

  • Ensure you have access to all your mailboxes, ideally from all your mobile devices
  • Build a filing system in a shared place such as Dropbox
  • Bring a document with your passwords (e.g. saved in your dropbox (or similar) or on your mobile devices)
  • Ensure you have contact details of clients all stored, and with you
  • Remember to carry auxiliary items such as phone charger, headphones, and laptop cables
  • Allow for train delays

Where to find shared offices, or hub near you

  • Regus – Co-Working Space, Day Office, Meeting Rooms in London and throughout the UK at strategic locations
  • Hubworking – Pay as you go meeting rooms, London (Liverpool Street, Victoria, Monument)
  • Jelly UK – Brings homeworkers, free-lancers and entrepreneurs together in a co-working space, across the UK
  • The Thinking Bus, Farnham – affordable flexible workspaces and creche
  • The Third Door, London, Putney, SW18 – flexible workspaces, meeting rooms and on-site nursery
  • The Hub, London, Islington – office space for social entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups, with 30 co-working spaces
  • Near Desk – you become a member and have access to many co-working spaces in London, the South-West and Home Counties
  • Mozilla Space London, WC2N – Open work environments aimed at hackers and coders
  • Skyline offices, London – Concierge Service that helps you find suitable business space and then run it



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

Au Pairs: The First Days in Your Home

Au Pairs: The First Days in Your Home

The first few days of having an au pair in your home can feel a bit strange – it’s not easy having someone new in your home. As a working mother you are leaving your children in the care of someone you hardly know, which is also hard. Luckily there are some simple things you can do to help your au pair settle in and feel at ease with your family in their new home.

Make your au pair feel welcome

Your au pair has traveled from another part of the world and is likely to be tired and nervous about their new environment. Make sure their room is ready and perhaps display a ‘welcome’ sign made by your children.

Arrange a few driving lessons for your au pair

Au pairs are permitted to drive, but it’s helpful for them, and comforting for you, if you arrange for them to have a few driving lessons soon after they arrive. You can also let them practise driving a bit. Remember to arrange your insurance to ensure that your car is covered while your au pair is driving.

Come to an agreement about the use of technology

Discuss the expectations that you have of your au pair regarding technology and the use of your internet connection. Bear in mind that your au pair will want to be in contact with his or her family, and will start to develop friendships in the area and will want to communicate with people here and in their home country. Skype is a good option because you can make free calls to other Skype users as well as cheap calls to landlines and mobiles.

Give her or him a few days to acclimatise

Your au pair will need a few days to recover from jet lag, but also needs time to get accustomed to the local area. Let them have some time to unpack their things, spend some time together with you and the kids and take some time to show them around your suburb.

Go food shopping

Take your au pair to the supermarket so that you can show them what foods are available, and to get an idea of their preferences.

Discuss your expectations of the au pair

A good au pair agency will provide you with a handbook that you can fill in with information about the house rules and the au pair’s responsibilities. This helps you as a family to be clear about your expectations and for the au pair to understand what you expect from him or her. Remember that you are establishing a relationship where the au pair will be helping with childcare and will also be part of your family.

During this initial time it is also helpful to show your au pair how you would like things done. This includes whatever responsibilities you expect from them, whether it’s loading the dishwasher, doing the school run or helping with homework.

For more information on how au pairs can help you meet your childcare needs, contact UK-based au pair agency, Smart Au Pairs or visit their website to request a call back. They have years of experience when it comes to successful au pair matching and are ready to help you find your perfect au pair.

Author: Tuuli Liiskmaa on behalf of Smart Au-Pairs. Tuuli Liiskmaa is the owner of the Smart Au Pairs au pair agency. She is passionate about supporting all the Smart Au Pairs host families throughout the au pair placement process right through from their initial consultation to post-arrival help. She goes to great lengths to ensure the best possible match is made between the Smart Au Pairs host families and the au pairs. For more information on how an au pair can help you meet your family’s childcare needs contact reputable au pair agency Smart Au Pairs or visit their website to request a call back.