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.