Tag: "Happiness"

Returning to work after a second child – how different can it be?

Returning to work after a second child – how different can it be?

I rather excitedly returned to work earlier this month having had almost a year off following the birth of my second son. Returning to work the second time around offered an entirely new experience, why had no one warned me about this? Why did they just warn me about how different my second child would be, and how they would have hugely distinctive personalities, habits and traits from the first one? Unfortunately for me the new experience wasn’t positive either.

I was returning to work again as a freelancer for an organisation I used to be an employee at, and which I had been working for years. The major shift in the way I worked had been after my first child when I decided to resign my permanent job and go freelance so I could more easily juggle the demands of motherhood and career. That was a hugely nerve wracking time but turned out to be the best decision I could have made. At least, returning to the same arrangement the second time around wouldn’t be such a shock or upheaval, I thought to myself.

The night before did bring some of the usual anxieties: how do I help get not one but two children dressed, breakfasted and off to nursery, and myself ready and out the house in time for my train? (really, hats off to you working women with more than two sprogs); will I still fit in my work attire having lost none of the pregnancy fat I promised I would; mmm, oh yes, and can I still do my job?

Yet it was none of these that in the end put a dampener on my spirits. When I walked in the door and strode over to the work area I usually shared with five lively and (unwittingly) amusing salespeople, I found a lone computer sitting on a deserted desk with a mountainous stack of unwanted paper on one side and a huge empty space where people should have been on the other. It was MY computer sitting there in isolation shoved next to what, frankly, looked like preparations for a bonfire. My old colleagues had been ‘rehomed’ leaving my desk to rack and ruin and become a mere dumping ground.

Worse though, where were the friendly, familiar, smiley faces I assumed would be there to greet me? I looked around me to ask someone what was going on and bar a smattering of old timers I realised, with a pang of fear, I hardly knew anyone. So many people were new. My old boss had gone, old colleagues moved to a different floor, departments restructured and moved around, and an entire magazine which I used to work on and dedicated most of my career to had been TUPED off to a different company altogether. Hardly a soul welcomed me back, not because they were being rude but because they just didn’t know me, even though I am now one of the longest serving workers. Gosh so much had changed – spurred on, no doubt, by the spectral economic downturn – and I was in unfamiliar territory.

I had been already made aware, of course, of the major changes such as my boss leaving (something the organisation, to be fair, wasn’t obliged to do given I am a freelancer). However reading about it on email is not like feeling it in real life. Also just think, colleagues aren’t necessarily aware that the gradual changes they experience over the course of just under a year can add up to something representing quite a dramatic transformation to someone who has been absent all that time. They are just busy getting on with it all.

And realistically some change must be expected. Which successful businesses do you know of simply stand still? After all, the organisation had gone through some key changes while I was off with my first child. I coped with that just fine.

Yet this time was different, the pace of change felt far more accelerated. As I said, I guess it’s just a sign of the times. The organisation has been brilliant at supporting me but really not much can prepare you for feeling like everything is suddenly unfamiliar.

As a result, I actually felt lonely but rather weirdly, also a bit stupid, out of place, like a spare part. And feeling like that on top of the insecurity you can experience after such a long spell out of work can be a recipe for disaster if you are trying to get your career back on track. It can be tricky to explain how pressurised it can feel returning to work after maternity leave to those that haven’t done it. Many women suffer a crisis of confidence just because they have been absent so long and worry about their job performance. Then there’s the added stress of worrying how your little one is coping without you and hoping to god they are not sitting in the corner just crying. Your emotional state is about as stable as a straw mountain but the façade you have to give is cool, calm, collected, adding to the pressure.

Going back to a workplace that you then feel has changed beyond recognition can make it tempting to bid a hasty retreat to your desk, speak and interact with no-one and just bury your head in your work. That’s certainly what I wanted to do.

However, on the journey home that evening I had the chance to analyse the day, re-assess the situation and thought I should draw on all the great coaching I had been lucky enough to receive as an employee. I realised fading into the background is not a strategy that was going to get me back on the career ladder. So I devised a personal strategy with a few goals and aims. I thought I should share them, so here goes:

1. Accept change

It happens every day in business. Don’t bemoan the fact the place has changed, all the fun people have gone or old ways of working have been replaced. It will just make you feel worse about your working life. Get to know your organisation as it is now and accept that’s how it is. All the positive elements will soon make themselves apparent again. I resolved to do this after that first day, having realised that all I was doing was comparing the here and now with the ‘old days’. It’s uncomfortable and unsettling dealing with change but I decided I must switch my thinking, be adaptable and ride it out. The next day I started work with a new much more positive outlook.

2. Don’t isolate yourself and keep yourself to yourself

Not even if it is just because you feel you don’t know anyone anymore. Seek out old colleagues to let them know you are back and have a catch up, but then ask them to introduce you to new people. I went and said hello to as many of the people I had formerly worked with as I could, including making a special visit to some of the senior staff! It reminded me I had a place and history at the organisation and that I was valued.

3. Embrace new challenges and new projects

Take on projects outside your comfort zone. It will remind bosses why you are such a talent and give you the opportunity to work with new people and teams.

4. Enjoy your work

Remind yourself of the parts of the job that you find rewarding, stimulating and enjoyable and get stuck in again. It can be a real buzz re-discovering the joys of what you do as well as having some of your former identity back. For me I have loved getting to meet and write about new people again, the chance to make more contacts, to learn what was happening in the industries I write about. In other words, using my brain again!

5. Enjoy working life

It’s can be hard to arrange a night out but if you can join colleagues for an after work drink or work social event occasionally it can be a real tonic.

6. Weed out the negative

You should be too busy to have time to indulge in negative thoughts or feelings anyway!

Ok I can’t claim I have achieved all of this yet. After all, I have only been back at work a couple of weeks. Some of it such as the night out is work in progress and I admit, so too is being able to entirely eliminate negative thoughts. But the simple task of even devising a strategy and setting myself goals and aims has enormously helped my outlook and make sense of my rather overwhelming experience of returning to work. I am also reminded that if I want to ensure my work life is enriching and enjoyable only I can take charge and be sure that that is what happens!

Author: Rima Evans, free lance business journalist and editor, rimaevans@blueyonder.co.uk

Mid Life Career Change – Unlocking Your Full Potential

Mid Life Career Change – Unlocking Your Full Potential

I have always been passionate about what I do, and that’s why I do it. Even from the beginning of my career I made a pact with myself, that the day that I don’t enjoy what I do, is the day I’ll do something else. Even if that would be a mid-life career change, or an end life one for that matter.

My philosophy is and has always been, do what you’re passionate about, what you love. Tap in to what your real life purpose is and pursue it and you will feel totally fulfilled.

How many people do you know that absolutely love what they do? That can’t wait for Monday mornings?

Or should I ask: How many people do you know that ‘hate’ or ‘don’t enjoy’ what they do and can’t stand Mondays?

It’s interesting, when I look back over my 17 years as a Career Development specialist I have assisted over 50,000 people from all walks of life move forward in their career. Each time I would always ask the question: ‘what do you love about what you do’ I discovered approx 85% of people said; they didn’t really enjoy the work they did however it paid the bills. It enabled them to pay the rent/mortgage, kids school fees, car etc.

So in effect they felt trapped by the life they’d created, caught in a safety net of better the devil you know, the security it held. So they often sacrificed what they really wanted to do because they felt they were doing the right thing for their partner/children/parents, but not for themselves.

What if we looked at doing the right thing and turned it on its head. What if doing the right thing is to follow your heart, do what’s right for you, live life full-out, and teach your partner/kids and all that you can create anything that you set your mind to, and that you can live life full-out, a life without limits. If you stay trapped doing something that you hate what message are you giving to your children and the rest of the world?

So many of us get handcuffed into a career, or a stay-at-home choice, that we don’t really enjoy, spend 2/3 of our life, from the age of 21 through to 60, approximately 40 years, 40 years doing something we hate; why? When did we decide to settle? When did we give up on the dream life? At 5 years old the sky is the limit; ask a 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up and just listen to what they say. There’s no limits. They’ll say things like they want to be a footballer, an astronaut, a rock star, an actor or a doctor. At what point did we shrink our dream to fit our circumstances?

I guess it comes back to where in life are we settling?

  • Are you settling in your career? In your personal relationships? With your health & well-being? Or with your finances?

Chances are, if you settling in one aspect of your life, you’re more than likely settling in others

  • Ask yourself right now where am I settling in my life?

Get clear on where you’re settling and draw a line under it no matter how big or small it is. And then get clear on what you want to create for yourself in your life. Maybe it’s a new career, or relationship, or making more money or getting fit or losing weight or just having better health.

Whatever it is for you.

The good news is – it’s a decision you make. You can make decisions at any point to change your circumstances.

When you know what you want to create for yourself set a course, step by step and go after it. Engage back in life and live it on your terms.

Inspiring real-life stories of mid-life career changes

I thought it would be useful to share a few examples of where people have drawn a line under where they’re at and decided to go after what they love . I share these examples in the hope they can inspire you to go on and create whatever it is your heart desires.

Lola is a close friend of mine and I’ve known her for 15 years. In her early career she fell in to an accounts job and just drifted with it. She didn’t enjoy it however it was a job and paid the bills. We often talked about how unfulfilled she was, how she hated what she did and dreaded doing another reconciliation, financial analysis or credit control. She just felt it wasn’t the right space for her. As time went by she continued to work in accounts and felt the only way she could progress and make more money was to take an ACCA qualification and become professionally qualified. She did it. She moved jobs a few times, hoping new companies would inspire her on to greater things, it didn’t happen. It sapped her energy even more. Lola was now a professionally qualified accountant aged 35 with 14 years experience making a good income and still felt unfulfilled.

Lola had always wanted to be an Actor. She was passionate about it and knew it was what she really wanted to do. It was her dream.
For 14 years she parked her dream, she didn’t follow her heart she opted for a more conventional route.

Last week I got a call from her to say she had an audition for an Acting School. A few days later I got a call to say she got it. She has started her journey and couldn’t be happier.

Mary is from Croatia and educated in the US. She has a stellar education and 15 years track record of success in investment banking having worked with some of the world’s leading investment banks. When she graduated she didn’t really know what she wanted to do. She did a business & economics degree and did very well. She was hired by a top investment bank. Fifteen years later she didn’t know where the time had gone, it was a whirlwind. She had progressed well, worked out of Wall Street and the City in London and was making a lot of money however she didn’t feel fulfilled. Mary decided to take a career break, to “come up for air” to get clear on who she was and what she wanted to create for herself. She had never taken a break from her career before. It was the best thing she ever did. She soon realized that her high-end banking career was not what she wanted for the second part of her career. She wanted to work more one on one with people and really make a difference. Mary is now working successfully in a Business & Personal leadership business that transforms the lives of many.

My advice to you is don’t waste another second doing what you hate. Start creating the life you deserve. Go get your mid-life career change and take some action today.

Author: Helen Roberts – Career Development Expert 

Are you thinking about starting up your own business? Could it be for you? Why not join us at the BIG Business-get-ready and find out? All the experts you need will be there including: lawyers, accountants, photographers, business mentors and web developers, all working mums that made the step a few years ago. – BIG Business-get-ready, 3 October, Twickenham – School friendly timings, Free parking

Time-out or burn-out

Time-out or burn-out

The importance, the skill and the necessity of taking time-out if you want to prevent burn-out as a working mum.

In sports like basketball, baseball, and ice hockey they understand the importance of a time-out. Can you picture it: the heated match situation and suddenly the whistle of the coach, hands up, time-out! The game stops, all players immediately hover over to their coach for…… for what?  What happens in a time-out? A time-out is a situation where everybody steps back; physically and mentally. It is a time for physical recharging, where players can catch their breath, give their muscles a little rest, fuel the body with a drink. It is also a moment for reflection and looking back at the recent events in the match: what worked, what did not, how about different positions for the players, how about different tactics and strategies.

The time-out is a restful period, that shapes the game and ideally leads to a better performance and better results.
How often do you, busy women with lots of balls in the air, take a time-out? Because of the juggling and the pressures from different sides it is very important to allow regular breaks.

As a busy mum myself I discovered the value of time-out in the form of meditation years ago. The busier I was, the more time I spent meditating. That sounds daft and illogical, but the meditation practice refuelled my body and mind, made me focussed, alert, and I felt in control and relaxed. In that state of mind, I could do much more, than when I allowed my energy to be zapped away by nervous energy and worries.

As my life evolved, I started to teach meditation and came across this myth that meditation takes too much time. Meditation is a word for any technique that calms the mind and can take many forms . It doesn’t need to be complicated. Focus and concentration, for even just one minute, will help to create a restful state of the mind.

To dismantle the myth that meditation takes up a lot of time and to prove that great changes can be achieved I designed a research programme which I called The Meditation Wave, referring to the change in frequency in our brains when we meditate. This research asked participants to try 28 days 5 times a day a 1 minute meditation. In my opinion, I took away the excuse of not enough time as there is no excuse when it comes this one minute. We all will have those moments, as we wait for a traffic light, the kettle to boil, for the train to arrive, and these spare minutes can be used for a highly effective brief meditation.

The effects of a regular one minute meditation were very positive. People who started with sleeping problems all reported a significant improvement in their sleeping patterns. Others noticed a much calmer demeanour and one participant gave the feedback: ‘The knot in my stomach is gone and I don’t feel nervous anymore’.

The research project has ended¸ but as a result The Meditation Wave is now available as an online meditation course with guided meditations and a daily supportive email.

Time-outs are key in a busy life, to recharge with regular intervals. The challenge is to find the type of ‘activity´that works for you and suits your lifestyle.

 

Author: Mariette Jansen Coaching from stress free coaching. Email: mariette@stressfreecoaching.co.uk Blogsite:
Facebook page for the Meditation Wave. Meditation Wave is the easiest way to incorporate meditation into a hectic lifestyle.

  • All materials are delivered via email.
  • There is no time commitment. The maximum time involved is 10 minutes a day, broken down into 5 chunks of approximately 2 minutes each.
  • Can be done anywhere and everywhere.
  • Cost for all materials and 1 month support: £37.

The course contains downloads, daily support, instruction and off-line support if needed. The down-to-earth approach fits into our Western culture and has been very positively received.

Starting your own business? Redefine success

Starting your own business? Redefine success

If you are a working mum and have left a corporate life to start up your own business, have you redefined your criteria of success?

If you were working for a company for many years chances are your success criteria were defined by your role, your departmental objectives and the company’s targets. Or maybe not…..maybe you defined your own success based on job title, salary and benefits package, overseas trips, class of business travel and number of staff reporting to you.

So what happens when the constructs that we defined our success (and sometimes ourselves) by are no longer there?

Does this mean we aren’t successful?

Starting up your own business means redefining many things, finances, working location, tax status but often we forget to redefine how we will judge ourselves to be successful.

From my own experience and working with many Corporate Crossovers®, (women who have left corporate to start their own business) not redefining our success criteria can leave us with that nagging doubt wondering if we made the right decision to leave. And I believe this is even more so for working mothers. If left unchecked, it can also grow into vacillation about whether to stay self-employed or to go and get a ‘real’ job again.

Personally, I went through an 18 month period of wondering if I should ‘get real’ and get a job again and it wasn’t till I took stock and thought about what success meant to me now in my own business, did I realize how successful I was!

Taking stock for me involved:

  • examining what was REALLY important to me about the life I wanted to live (my values)
  • how much time I spent working now vs. before (daily hours and vacation)
  • my income
  • comparing my stress levels with now and before
  • focusing on myself and not comparing myself with former peers

After my period of reflection those years ago – I was stunned! Stunned at how much I was earning with low stress and lots more time. That was the real turning point for me to grab hold of my business with both hands and fully commit!

So whether you have just left corporate to start up your own venture or you have been doing it for some years, take some time to reflect deeply on what your success criteria are for you now.

Your say: I would love to hear how you define success now you have left corporate! Just leave a message in the comment box below.

Author: Wendy Kerr runs Corporate Crossovers, offering mentoring and training to those who have started their own business after a corporate career. Check out her website for more tips, resources and advice for business start-ups

Working women

Getting to grips with the guilt of the professional working mum

How can you possibly have a career and a family and not feel guilty that someone is getting short-changed? Is it a no win situation which just can’t be resolved? Sorry for the cliché, but it’s actually a win-win situation.

First, let’s take a look at your personal life. You have a lot of commitments, right? But isn’t this what makes you feel connected to this earth? Commitments are a good thing – you may have a commitment to a sports team, a local school, a charity or a family matter. These commitments take you away from work, both mentally and physically. (Again, this is also a good thing which I’ll come back to later). Your instinct is that your priorities are in the right place, but you still feel guilty leaving clients or colleagues with unfinished business.

Now let’s take a look at your professional life. You are no doubt enjoying the challenge and collaboration with other adults. Knowing you, I bet you’re really throwing yourself into the new job, the new role, or project. But I hear you. You’re telling me that despite this job satisfaction you still do experience that tinge (or on a bad day, that pang) of guilt that you should be home having a glass of wine with your partner or reading that bedtime story to your kids.

Well, if it’s any consolation we’ve all been there . The point is you’re not alone and it’s not personal – it’s part of the human predicament. It’s part of what defines us and you’ve got to stop beating yourself up about it. It’s not your fault, so there’s absolutely no reason why you should feel guilty!

Kate Redding, the working mum played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film ‘I don’t know how she does it’ demonstrates beautifully that so much of the guilt we experience, is self-imposed. We set unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve – whether that be at home or at work. Kate seems to feel guilty about everything and as a result she seems almost scatter-brained and unfocused in almost every situation. Her guilt seems to be driving her to be über human. (She really stoops low when she dresses up a store-bought cake as homemade for the school bake sale. She doesn’t want her kids to feel like she’s contributing less than the other mothers. Oh, please!). In a way we set ourselves up for feeling a sense of failure, a sense of guilt, because we can’t meet a pie in the sky expectation.

Ok, so although you buy into my logic, you’re still not over it.

Here’s the real key to getting to grips with the guilt trip. What you have to realize is that it’s because of your personal life (rather than in spite of!) that you’re a better professional, a better business person. People like to deal with other people. The unique approach, values and integrity you bring to the work environment is one of your greatest contributions. Your uniqueness comes from your personal life, your upbringing and your personal experiences. Also having a personal life pulls you away from work – it saves you from burn-out (I saw plenty of this in my corporate life). It allows you to break away and recharge your battery, which of course makes you more productive in the long run. Ever notice how much easier something feels once you’ve had that mental break?

Fine, I get all that, but I still feel guilty about not spending enough time with my partner. I feel guilty about leaving the kids. Did you ever think about how your professional life makes you an interesting person – how it broadens your perspective? Have you ever thought about how your professional life enables you to support your partner’s career (you realize just how tough it is out there in the real world!). So many skills and qualities that you apply in your personal life have actually been developed in your work life. You’ve got it – your professional life makes you a better person – you as a partner, daughter, friend or mother. You can help others get out of those tricky situations because you solve problems at work all day long!

Bottom line? Although you want perfection, just focusing on that one thing doesn’t get you there either. Once you accept that you can’t possibly be everywhere and do everything, and also accept that it’s the varied dimensions in your life that might it worth living, you’re well on the road to recovery. No more guilt. Time to enjoy life’s variety!

Author: Christine Brown-Quinn. As a former managing director, wife and mother of 3, Christine Brown-Quinn shares her 20+ years experience in banking (as well as recent experience as an author and entrepreneur) and offers practical strategies on how to get the most out of your work & life. Christine’s recently published book Step Aside Super Woman… Career & Family is for Any Woman offers professional women time-tested advice on how to create work-life balance. She is also co-founder of the Women in Business Superconference series.

This blog is Part 3 of a 5-Part Series: ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’. Sign up for our monthly update to receive them directly into your mailbox – just enter your name in the top-right-hand box to sign up. 

Working mum? - Are you busy or focussed?

Working mum? – Are you busy or focussed?

“Hi, how are you? Are you busy?” Is it just me, or does it just seem most working mums great each other this way? Now I know they have my best interests in mind but how come ‘being busy’ is so important? And what if I haven’t been busy? Does that reflect badly on me when they are clearly so busy themselves.

Yes, there are certainly days when I’m very busy…….doing what though, who knows! And anyone out there who works from home, or isn’t currently working full time, will understand how easy it is to fill the day.

There are other days though when I’ve been much less busy, when I’ve been focused and productive, achieved the most important things in a short space of time and found time to go for a walk in the sunshine or meet a friend for lunch.

“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed” – Mahatma Ghandi

So how come we’re so interested in how busy people are? I don’t know many people who have a conscious life goal to ‘be busy’. And yet, with so much focus on being busy, it seems many of us have a subconscious desire to be busy and equate being busy with being successful, fulfilled or even worthwhile.

In his book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ Timothy Ferris turns a few traditional ideas on their head and explores how we can live the life of our dreams instead of our rules. And a couple of questions in the book that I really like are these;

1) “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”

2) “Am I being productive or just active?”

So I don’t know about you but my intention is to focus on what’s most important, and instead of feeling lazy for not being busy, feel good about making time for the people and things that matter most.

Follow this link and take a quick quiz to find out whether you’re addicted to being busy ;-)

And remember “Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty four brand-new hours to live” – Thich Nhat Hanh

How will you use yours?

 

Author: Denise Parker helps managers and leaders in organisations, and small business owners, create more Authentic Success. This means that not only do they get to achieve outstanding results but they also find more enjoyment and meaning in the work that they do AND feel good about themselves too. She knows from her own experience, and the experience of her clients, that reaching our goals is only one aspect of success, how we are feeling is quite another.

Authentic success - How to make choices that fit who you are?

Authentic success – How to make choices that fit who you are?

Life coach Denise Parker shares her key steps to help working mums and women leaders achieve authentic success. Remember: “If you try and be like everyone else who will be like you?”

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes, or a smart new outfit, and then stepped out and realised that they just didn’t fit properly? And while you’re wearing them you just can’t ignore how they feel, you know something’s not right and the thought of it just keeps distracting you and playing on your mind?

Well just like that ill-fitting suit, or those uncomfortable shoes, success that isn’t authentic doesn’t feel quite right either. And what’s more the consequences can be much longer lasting and far more damaging!

Lack of Authentic success|

  • Feels like hard work
  • You’re not getting the results you want
  • You lack clarity, feel confused or distracted and are not sure what to focus on
  • It’s a struggle to stop your mind racing
  • You feel stressed or nervous and just can’t slow down
  • You’re doing ok but something’s missing
  • Your confidence dips and you start questioning or doubting yourself, especially when it seems like everyone else is doing better than you
  • It starts to affect your relationships and other areas of your life
  • You may be able to tolerate this for a while, but just like those shoes at the end of the night, you can find yourself asking ‘what on earth am i doing?’

Benefits of Authentic success

  • It feels completely natural and you’re doing what you love
  • You’re in your flow and things happen more easily
  • Your mind is clear, you know exactly what you want and what needs to happen
  • You remain calm and relaxed, even under pressure
  • You have an inner confidence that allows you to handle new challenges and make decisions that fit for you
  • You’re far more compelling and attract potential clients with ease
  • You value yourself and charge what you’re worth
  • You enjoy more balance and well-being in your life

Sadly, many people I meet, and clients I work with, have lost their true sense of self, forgotten what really matters to them and lost confidence in themselves. And this means that they’re either holding back and not getting the results they would like, or are getting results but not being true to who they really are. And for small business owners who are wearing several different hats, juggling so many balls and being bombarded with information and advice, it can be easy to lose ourselves along the way!

So what can you do if you recognise any of the symptoms mentioned above?

Well, first of all realise that you’re not alone ;-) Secondly, consider the following key steps.

S – Start with yourself

Ensure you have a healthy sense of self. This is essential for developing and maintaining a feeling of confidence, realising your natural gifts and talents and making choices that fit with who YOU are.

P – Prioritise what matters most

Be really clear about what matters most, and what really drives you at a deep level. This allows you to focus more easily, gain greater clarity and enjoy more passion and inspiration in your life.

A – Accept and let go

Release unhelpful habits and conditioning, accept who you are and let go of attachments to things, people and opinions. This is hugely liberating and frees you up to be your natural, authentic self.

And perhaps above all, remember who you really are. You have a unique set of skills, gifts and talents. You bring something unique to the world. And that’s YOU J

So I’ll share with you one of my favourite quotes……..“If you try and be like everyone else who will be like you?”

And if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

Author: Denise Parker has been helping managers and leaders in organisations, and small business owners, create more Authentic Success since 1997. This means that not only do they get to achieve outstanding results but they also find more enjoyment and meaning in the work that they do AND feel good about themselves too. She knows from her own experience, and the experience of her clients, that reaching our goals is only one aspect of success, how we are feeling is quite another. denise@deniseparker.com

 

The inner conflict of the working mum

The inner conflict of the working mum

Many women experience conflicting emotions when they commit to becoming a working mum. You are not the only one!

Here’s what’s happening with you and the top four things that can help you deal with it.

Conflict areas, bringing you inner turmoil

  • Career and identity is often an important reason to keep on working. You might have worked hard to establish your career credentials and might be loath to lose your seniority and reputation. Taking a part-time or alternative option may seem like a sensible move but you might resist losing your financial independence and hard-won position.
  • Money is needed to support the family expenditure, but you realize maintaining a job often requires extra expenditure. Childcare, hasty food shopping, expensive treats to compensate, and the clothes and expenditure required to maintain the desired image for a work environment are all additional costs you incur.
  • Time is the big challenge for the working mum. Satisfying the demands of a job, family, partner and personal life are almost impossible, especially in the early pre-school days. You could feel the pressure to prove that you are committed and good at your job. Some women, however find that this results in other areas of their life becoming stressed and rushed.

It helps to know these conflict areas exist, and you are certainly not the only one experiencing them. For many women they are a source of guilt.

Top four things to do to make your life as a working mum easier

Apart from being aware of these conflict areas, you can also do a few things to make life as a working mum easier.

1. Remember: you need to be happy. 

A satisfied mother is far better than one who feels resentful about her decisions. Many situations in life require elements of compromise. When you find that you are doing what is right for you, you could find you feel happier as well when you are spending time with your children. Spend plenty of time finding good quality childcare.

2. Good quality childcare can help you feel positive about your children’s care and support.

Feeling confident that your children are well looked after is essential. Childcare can also bring benefits. Mixing with other children in a nursery or at a childminders’ teaches sharing, becoming more confident with others and often improves a child’s education and readiness for school.

3. Commit quality time to the family.

It is important to do this and value it highly. Ensure that regular time is allocated to spend reading with children, playing games and going for walks. These are far more important than expensive gifts and lavish treats. Children are adaptable. When they feel loved and important they settle.

4. Arrange help.

Help is essential. If your partner is unavailable perhaps you could find trustworthy grandparents, other mothers or neighbours who can provide overnight support occasionally. This provides a little personal time to relax, let go of stress and do fun things for yourself.

A working mum is often trying to have the best of both worlds. This requires planning ahead, being highly organised and having emergency back-up for when things don’t go to plan. If you feel that being a mother is only one part of your identity, you may find that you would like to maintain your pre-children role as much as you can. That way you become a more satisfied person and better able to modify your inner conflict.

Author: Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who helps women and working mothers to feel better about their decisions, become more confident, assertive and positive about their needs and as such, improve their quality of life. She will happily give you further help, advice and has some great articles on her site lifestyletherapy.