For many mums like myself looking to achieve super hero status when it comes to being an attentive parent and a driving force in the career department, there’s one question that comes into our heads every time we attempt feeding our babies and taking a conference call at the same time… is achieving a work-family balance even possible? And if so, how?
As a freelance business consultant and writer, I put very little thought into the matter until the realities of pregnancy started to take over my working life. Yes, I spent a few days mopping about when morning (noon and night) sickness struck but by the fourth day, I started to devise an action plan on how I can have it all!
Parented by a single mother, who worked extremely hard to keep everything afloat at home and at work, I’d been brought up with the mindset that you don’t have to choose between your career and having a family, and whilst I had and still have a great support system in place, I was determined to define a few golden rules that transformed by career as a consultant into an environment that allows my child and myself to thrive!
Here are my golden rules for achieving a great work-family balance…
Say No to Working Mum Guilt
Whilst my circumstances may be a little different than others, I feel it is important for all working mums to cut themselves some slack! It’s very difficult not to feel guilty about sacrificing quality time with your child in favour of work, especially during the early years, but remember you are ultimately trying to achieve the very best for your family. I found that with this guilt comes a lot of comparison, maybe friends or other family members have been able to leave work and look after their children full-time? Don’t compare yourself to any other mums instead focus on your own family’s goals.
Work with Your Employer
Many companies provide flexy time to help new parents so discuss your options with your employer on the lead up to your due date. You may be able to work from home for a couple of days a week or come in early to leave a little earlier to pick up your child from nursery. If you find that your current role has no room for negotiation, why not consider a career change to a less strenuous job or a part-time role if possible? Or like me, look at starting your own work from home business to help you achieve that elusive balance when your baby arrives.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
The support network you have in place when your little one arrives is instrumental if you want to carry on working full-time, part-time or from home, so embrace this and make it a part of your nesting regime. Whilst working mums tend to exercise some pretty unbelievable multi-tasking, it is important that you are not doing it on your own. Discuss childcare arrangements with your husband, family and closest friends to ensure you are prepared as well as looking into paid for options from au pairs, nannies and nurseries.
There are also a number of networks out there for working mums, I found dedicated online forums and local support groups a real help, allowing me to discuss my concerns and achievements with mums in the same situation.
Take Time to Take Care
As well as balancing your work and family life, it is important to spend a little time taking care of yourself. If you neglect your own needs, your work and family needs will also suffer. Spend a couple of hours a week relaxing and make sure you get your full eight hours (which I know is easier said than done with a new baby) so you are on top form for your employer and your family.
Brittany Thorley is the proud mum of one and works full-time as a freelance writer and consultant for Forsyth Business Centres. She enjoys sharing her expertise in motherhood and business with regular blogs across the net.