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The Great Baby And Career Balancing Act

Mum holding up child in sea with sunset

How I Balanced A Baby And A Career

Guest Post By Lyndsey Shankland

As a businesswoman, my whole adult life was dedicated to my career in recruitment. I loved it! Balancing a baby and a career hadn’t been on the agenda. My true passion was my career, my reason for being, and everything else could wait.

But that all changed when I turned 38. Cupid’s arrow struck. Now generally speaking, I’m not someone to jump straight in, but this was it. By the age of 39 I was married. I became a new mother just three weeks after my 41st birthday.

Yep, I might be a slow starter when it comes to having a family of my own. However, when it’s right, it’s right!

I had real problems getting my head around the concept of taking six months off work. I mean, who was going to lead my projects, partner with my stakeholders, source new candidates and help keep those business wheels turning? How would I balance a baby and a career?

Even with years of experience working in American businesses globally and in regional roles, with responsibility for leading teams across EMEA, APAC and AMER I worried.  Would I be cast aside now I was a mother with other priorities was never far from my mind?

With so many women finding themselves ‘surplus to requirements’ and facing redundancy after returning from maternity leave, the days with my newborn were tainted with worry.

And sadly, my worries weren’t unfounded

The Return To Work… Or Not!

I enjoyed six blissful months of maternity leave with my little Oliver. Then on my first day back at work I was hit with a huge bombshell. My role was being relocated to the US. There was absolutely no way I could move.

Not only did I have my husband and son to think about, but my mum has young on-set vascular dementia and needs me more now than ever.

I went through a storm of emotions as I struggled to come to terms with the ‘loss’ of the job I loved. I’d always been the stronger partner in a financial sense. So worries about the mortgage, bills, other financial commitments, an unwell mother and a new baby caused a lot of anxiety.

How was I going to set myself apart from other job seekers in an already saturated market? For anyone who’s ever had an insight into the recruitment industry, you’ll know that recruiters are like gremlins – put a little water on us and we multiply!

How was I going to compete with these bright young things that didn’t have the commitments and family priorities I did?

Taking Back Control

So, I had two choices. Either put on my dressing gown and drown my sorrows in a family-sized tub of Ben and Jerry’s, or get proactive.

I took the latter option. I took control of the situation with the life-changing decision to start my own business.

After all, I had 18 years experience as an in-house head of talent acquisition. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of the recruitment world first hand. So why should I end up on the career scrap heap just because I had a child?

I considered my goals and formed my plan of action. I wanted to be a good recruiter of course, but I also wanted to be a good wife, daughter and mother.

Flexibility Is Key

For my plan to succeed, flexibility was central. Before I decided to start my own business, I was headhunted numerous times. I found however that employers were put off by my insistence on regular home office days and my need to balance a baby with a career.

So, I started out on my own with a business model of working with only a select number of clients in engineering and pharmaceutical markets, taking on just 2 or 3 at a time.

This allowed me to offer a higher quality, fully tailored recruitment service to both the global businesses I support and the talent I headhunt.

Clients And Cuddles

Fast forward to October this year. I’m working on four roles for two different clients. This doesn’t just ‘bring home the bacon’ as you’d say, it means I can fit in a cuddle with Oliver and hubby Iain. I can do so without feeling a crippling sense of guilt that I’m letting anyone down.

We have lunch together, and then I crack back on with the international calls. We’ve flown to a few places together already too: Dubai, Milan, Florence, Hamburg. We are due to visit the US in a couple of weeks. It’s living the dream of being able to keep the career I’ve worked hard to achieve AND feel like I can be a good wife and Mum too!

And it’s on MY terms

It’s still early days yet. Some days the struggle is real, trying to balance a baby and a career – but it’s on our terms as a family.

I’m still feeling really positive about the future.

I can’t say too much right now, but I’ll be taking on a new role towards the end of the year. This is with a business which values my skills. Skills that haven’t changed just because I’m a mother. They appreciate that I need some family time too. I’ve finally found a position that allows me to do the job I love and carry on with the most important roles of all – a mummy, a wife and a daughter.

Mum and baby birthday celebrations

My Advice To You

If you think you’re in the worst situation possible and about to lose your job, I’m living proof that you can regain control of your life. You can continue to follow your dreams without compromising on integrity or family commitments.

I still have to work very hard to keep all the plates spinning, but I’m enjoying it! My skills are still relevant and in demand even though I have a family. I am balancing a baby and a career!

And as a recruitment expert and mum, I should know!

Blog Post by Lyndsey Shankland

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Women In Construction…

Woman working in construction, hi vis jacket

Building your future

It’s fair to say that construction has long been thought of as a typical job for the boys. From Auf Weidersehen Pet to Bob The Builder, most representations of the industry have been very male-dominated – but, as Bob Dylan noted, the times they are a changing.

So if you’re looking for a change, what can a career in construction offer parents – and what can you offer it?

On the up
The sector is growing, which is great news for parents looking for job security as their children grow up (and more become expensive).
Secure site accommodation and storage container firm Mobile Mini saw record results last year, along with a number of other key players, which is a direct result of renewed confidence in the building industry.

Down with the kids
Kids love trucks, so imagine how impressed yours would be if you got to work with them all day long. Dawne McClelland is manager of Mobile Mini’s Teesside branch and has a six-year-old son. It’s a match made in heaven.
She explains: “He loves anything vehicular so he likes the fact that Mummy manages two loader cranes.
““He’s been to the branch and been given a full tour around the trucks by our brilliant drivers. I definitely earn ‘cool mum’ points when I can talk technical details about our fantastic vehicles!”

Feel inspired
There’s no danger of you being the only woman on site – latest figures show that 37 per cent of new entrants into the industry are female.
At Mobile Mini, a third (33%) of staff are female across all departments – and it’s easy to see why.
Georgina Arrand, a mother-of-two and branch manager at Mobile Mini’s Humberside site, says: “There are so many women in senior roles here and it’s great to have so many peers. We help and support one another through the challenges that we face.
“Misconceptions about gender specific roles are decreasing, with more and more women choosing careers in construction, from admin and sales, to drivers, yard workers and management.”

Share your skills
Both Dawne and Georgina recognise that there is a great deal of crossover in managing a team of staff and managing small people.
Georgina explains: “At work, we’ve had training in the Parent-Adult-Child model, which taught us more about emotional intelligence and how we bring out different facets of our personality in our interactions with different people.
“Obviously, that was something I learned at work, but I now use it at home too.
“It works both ways though – as parents we are great at multitasking and building relationships, which is crucial in this industry.”
Dawne agrees: “I feel I have more of a sense of perspective since becoming a parent – I’ve learnt not to sweat the small stuff, to just keep focussed on what is important and how it affects the bigger picture – and that’s something I put into practice at work too.”

Stay flexible
We know flexibility and support during maternity leave is important to parents – and our mums in construction know it too.
Dawne explains: “I had regular Keep In Touch days after I had my son, which was great to help me gradually get used to being back full-time.
“And now I’m back, work is really good at letting me make the time up if we need to leave for sports days and special assemblies, so I don’t feel I miss out on the important events in my son’s life.”

If you’re looking for a career with a difference, with incredible opportunities for career progression, why not visit us?

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An HR Journey with #FlexibleWorking in mind!

I have multiple jobs in my life, (1) mummy to two crazy, beautiful, boisterous boys (2) wife and general domestic goddess 😉 (3) career HR professional looking to change the world! Life is busy, my mind is busy, I get frustrated by my lack of time, yet am determined to make it all work. Determined to make a difference.

This is all made possible with trust and empowerment, complete workplace autonomy from thought to working arrangements and amazing childcare. Me and the hubby manage nursery pick up and drop off, we don’t have family who can look after the kids, having understanding childcare provision is so important to me.

Rewind back to 2003, studying for a degree in HR & Business, I didn’t want to be one of those people who ‘just had a degree’ I wanted to be the one who had real life experience. Understood how things worked on a practical level. So having worked in River Island and New Look evenings and at the weekend and of course, loving a bit of retail therapy, I connected with retailers to ask them to take me on for FREE in their HR team. I was so desperate to have that leading edge that I was happy to work a day a week for nothing. Sooo grateful to the HR Director, and the team at Faith Footwear Limited, who fully integrated me and gave me fabulous insights, projects and learning opportunities. You’ll be pleased to know that they did pay me too ;-).

From there I went to TUI for a short stint, until they closed their Greater London House office, then to Sodexho. I worked under a superb manager who gave me huge learning opportunities to really find my feet.

Then, starting to get more settled at home, with a fur baby too, I made the move to Pitney Bowes which was closer to home. Fast forward 11 years and I’m still here. I work with a collaborative, exciting and dynamic leadership team. I’m proud to work with them. They embrace my crazy, quirky ideas and I’m part of their team. None of this exciting stuff would be possible without their engagement, and the support of others in the HR team. I partner closely with my Talent Acquisition partners who have joined me on this journey.

“At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of building a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent. We’re a growing business, almost 100 years old, and we’re currently in the middle of an exciting transformation. Our people play a crucial part in this journey.”

I’m hugely excited and proud that in 2018 we launched a collection of Family Friendly roles. From a contingent workforce model, school hours, term time to job pairs. With every sales role that we have, we always consider each time – can we make this work differently? Every step of the way we are assessing the effectiveness of these roles, determining ways to engage the talent pool and tell them about our unique value proposition.

Along with our Family Friendly roles, we created our Charter, to help explain our commitment to this space:

“Family life is important. We get it. At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of balancing work and personal life. We offer fantastic career opportunities, flexibility, but most importantly, understanding.”

We welcome applications from those who want to be able to care of loved ones, older and younger, and those of the furry kind. Those who want flexibility, those who want to quit the 9-5 or those who just occasionally are able to connect with their work selves.

At the end of Q3 we will complete a formal review of these roles and the impact that they have had on our organisation, our teams and on the lives of those who we have been able to welcome in to the workplace. I’m passionate and I care. I cannot wait to see how this intervention transforms our employee experience.

If you’d like to learn more about who we are, our offering or simply network to understand how we can create the platform for more flexibility in the workplace get in touch! Drop me a line at: Angela.holland@pb.com

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Meet Clare: A working mum at Hastings Direct

I joined Hastings Direct Claims department in 1998 when it was a much smaller organisation. Despite the huge growth of the company in recent years, one thing that hasn’t changed is how well I’ve been looked after as a colleague at Hastings Direct.

My hours originally covered evenings as I had young children. As the children grew, my hours were able to grow too and I am so grateful for the understanding I’ve received to help me flex around my family. In 2012, I successfully applied to be a Team Leader on a full time basis.

I’ve always felt valued and respected by everyone around me. As well as flexing my working hours, I’ve had bereavement support and guidance with my career aspirations. Regardless of my need, I always know where and how I can get support.

I’m often asked why I’ve stayed so long at Hastings Direct. It’s not laziness or lack of ambition. – why would I leave? I have everything I need for a good work-life balance and I’ve made some great friends, many of whom have been here nearly as long as me!

One thing that’s impressed me most recently is the focus on mental wellbeing. The available support spreads far and wide from a brief chat, to a having wellbeing meetings, alongside free weekly mindfulness and Pilates classes for everyone.

Now both my children also work here! They’ve formed their own career journey and equally feel valued. You can imagine my poor husband having to listen us all talking about Hastings Direct at the dinner table! Before you ask… I’ve tried to get him in, but he’s happy doing what he does!

If you’re interested in joining Hastings Direct then please click here to view our current vacancies: https://jobs.mummyjobs.co.uk/clients/hastings-direct

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ShootForTheMoon With Mums Enterprise

Mums Enterprise Events London

Getting Mums Back Into Work

#ShootForTheMoon With Mums Enterprise

In June two members of the MummyJobs, DaddyJobs and FlexIsBest team attended The Mums Enterprise event in Manchester. We were so overwhelmed with the numbers that we plan to have the whole team there at the two day event in London in September. We spoke to so many mums from start to finish. It was so busy there was little time in between chats to even have a nibble of lunch! But what was clear is the large volume of mums who post maternity find themselves in a situation where they feel lost when it comes to the subject of careers.

It is fair to say the day was a huge success, not just for us but for Lindsey, Lucy and the Mums Enterprise team too.

We asked Lindsey how she thought the day went….

Well done Lindsey, Lucy and the rest of the team for an amazing Mums Enterprise event in Manchester. How are you feeling now it’s over?

Thanks so much, we feel relief. These events have grown so much and that has been a conscious decision but it also comes with added personal, professional and financial risk to do so.  With events – the outcome is unpredictable. We do all we can to ensure the day is as awesome as possible and obviously we market and promote the event and get pre registrations. The danger is you could still very well end up with a different outcome than expected. We feel so proud when we see our event busy and bustling, giving us a sense of relief that hard work was worth it.

It must have taken lots of organisation, blood, sweat and tears to get such an event together but the outcome was brilliant and inspired so many women. How many women attended and what’s the feedback you’ve received so far?

Yes it really does, we are in the exact same shoes as the visitors who attend.  We have babies, families, work from home with a remote team and have worked for three years bringing these events to the world.  They exist because I couldn’t go back to my city job after my first baby in 2013. I started an events business first before the idea struck for this in 2015 with the first events in 2016.

Feedback has been amazing. We get inundated with messages of thanks and appreciation that the events are here and that they are just so so needed. We know the talent is out there, which is why we are so confident in taking such huge risks to do what we do.

The events are inspirational. They offer practical advice, useful workshops, a great opportunity to meet like-minded and mums and discover real work or business opportunities. Opportunities many may not have known existed had they not attended.

BUT events are never perfect, we manage our business by conducting live tests.  For instance this event was the first event we kept open until 6pm. We wanted to see if mums would come after work or after school pick up.  Some did, but it wouldn’t warrant us staying open that late again. So in future we will most likely close the event around 4.30pm.

The next London event is another test, it will be the first time we have done a two day event and are trying one day to be a Saturday to see if that helps mums who are employed or can’t get the time off work, or can get help with the kids.

One thing is for certain we must get more employers who are recruiting involved. Being a small team and are limited to the time we can spend actively selling and reaching out to new businesses. We will do more, but I am very pleased to have had over 3,000 satisfied visitors at Manchester. I mean that’s just incredible.

The Mums Enterprise event was all set up to cater for children, with nannies and play areas set up in various locations. How important do you feel this was to encouraging mums to attend?

Ideally we want a full creche but these events cost a heck of a lot of money. It isn’t cheap getting 3000 mums in once place so we do the best we can. This was the first time we had nannies in the workshop rooms as a mid-way option to trying our best to help those with children. We also keep workshops to only 30 minutes with 15 minute intervals – we feel this also helps.

Next up is London on the 1st and 2nd of February 2019, what should we expect from this 2 day event?

Well it’s going to be quite similar to the Manchester event. The same features, content and 5 exhibitors zones across Boost, Business, Flexible Work, Opportunity and Retrain & UpSkill. This time I am considering adding some longer mastermind sessions. Those who already run a business need more in-depth information which can’t always be delved into within just 30 minutes.  But I need to work on the agenda and then decide.

But the London show is again totally free and as mentioned is our first two day event and we are trying out a Saturday for show #7.

I spent most of the day talking to mums from the MummyJobs.co.uk stand. So many mums feel at a crossroads in their careers or jobs now they have a family. So many feel they can’t return to work due to lack of flexibility or refusal to even discuss flexible working. Skills are waiting to be snapped up by employers. Employers must understand that by embracing flexible working they open up their doors to a wider talent pool.

What would you say to the employers who still make the assumption that flexible workers lack ambition?

 

Mummyjobs.co.uk is doing a fantastic job getting more employers onboard to highlight opportunities and careers. There is a huge movement happening. I wouldn’t say that employers don’t find flexible workers lack ambition. I think it is more about a shift and cultural change within a business that is the challenge.  For large organisations especially, such a drastic implementation of change is a huge deal. There must be a diverse array of execs on boards to the traditional man and his pipe in order for that to happen.

There is a huge movement and organisations are recognising that there really is a 4th revolution happening. Not just for mums but for the world the 9-5 will be extinct. It will happen and it’s the likes of Mums Enterprise, Mummyjobs.co.uk and many others who can help make change happen. It’s just going to take working together, supporting one another and not giving up. This is a long game.

#Shootforthemoon

Thank you

Mums Enterprise Events

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances the above event has been cancelled.

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CHILDCARE OPTIONS AND FLEXIBLE WORKING

Needle in a haystack

Childcare Options And Flexible Working

Finding the right childcare options when working full time or flexibly can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you do find that needle it is often a diamond! Parents spend up to 45% of their disposable income on childcare. When it comes to a return to work, families (and in particular, mothers) often have to make a decision as to whether it is even worth working after paying for childcare. Many parents therefore try, to combine flexible working with childcare. An attempt to try and achieve a “happy” medium.

“43% of working women in the UK now work part time or flexibly. The majority of these choosing part time / flexible working to balance childcare.”

Flexible working requests are reassuringly becoming a norm. Not only for those parents returning to work after maternity or paternity leave but also throughout the lifecycle of parenting. A parent’s working arrangements can change several times as their children grow up. As many parents quickly realise, the days of a worrying about how to leave the office at 5pm in order to collect from a nursery at 6pm, are soon replaced by school pick-ups.

Getting Creative

Unfortunately, whilst your working arrangements may be flexible your childcare is inherently inflexible. Therefore, parents are forced to look at creative solutions and combinations in order to meet their needs. Nurseries have set hours; childminders will only pick up from certain schools, school holidays are fixed and so as their childcare is often inflexible. So parents have to seek greater and further working flexibility at certain times of year or at certain times in their child’s life.


So Back To Basics, What Are Your Childcare Options?

Nannies

Nannies provide the most flexible option for childcare when your children are young. Being based from your home if you need to work late, they can also ensure the children are then put to bed and your house is tidy. Nannies are widely regarded as the most expensive option. The reality is that if you have 2 or 3 children to care for, they can be cheaper than nursery fees. Nanny shares (whereby two employers share one nanny) can also provide further financial advantages and is a popular solution for many working flexibly.

Nurseries

Nurseries provide the least flexible childcare but are open all year round, except when your child is ill and they are unable to go. They have set hours and set sessions that you must pay for regardless of whether your child goes and there can be high penalties if you are late.

Childminders

Childminders provide a home from home setting with relatively fixed hours. They do provide more flexibility particularly for families who need less standard hours, shorter days or part-time care. Most will also offer nursery or school drop off and pick up options (although they will only usually pick up from certain establishments).

Family

Family has a benefit of being free, home based and flexible. However it’s important for the family member to be fully committed (such as not taking lots of holidays when you need cover!). Building a network of school families is essential. This network is beneficial not only for those emergency situations when you are running late home but also to arrange swapping playdates or holiday cover. A bit of sharing the load for childcare is a great way of cutting down on summer camp costs.

Au-Pairs

Au-Pairs are a popular choice when children go to school. Like a nanny they will work just for you and can offer 25-30 hours a week providing cover before and after school. Financially they are the cheapest option, providing you have a spare room available for them. However au pairs often have no (or very limited) childcare experience. They often travel to the UK for a cultural experience of only between 6-12 months.


Breakfast Clubs and After School Clubs

Breakfast Clubs and After School Clubs are available not just at your school but also some local nurseries offer a local school collection service and then they care for the children in premises near to the school.

 

So how do you go about finding the right childcare options for your family?

The biggest piece of advice for any parent thinking of childcare is to plan ahead but also to constantly reassess. Childcare needs unfortunately change. Such as when there is a change is circumstances like going to school or changing schools, new additions to the family. Ensure an open and frank relationship with your employer. The key to achieving the “happy” medium is trying to achieve flexibility on all sides.

Ultimately the right childcare option is the one that leaves your children happy, stimulated and safe. One that leaves you with peace of mind. Also one that creates the less stress possible for busy working parents, whether working full-time or flexibly.

Parental Choice the essential “one-stop shop” to help you make the right decision on your childcare needs. Parental Choice offer childcare searches including nurseries, childminders, nannies and au pairs plus support employers of nannies with all their payroll and employer responsibilities. For more information on your childcare options and how Parental Choice can help visit www.parentalchoice.co.uk and quote MJPC5.

Need help on deciding which career path to follow? Why not check out The Mum’s Enterprise events!

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Is a return to Marketing in your future?

Always liked the idea of marketing?

Can you communicate clearly, both in writing and speech? Are you a problem solver? Can you crunch numbers? Are you an ideas person?

If yes, then marketing could be the new career pathway you’ve been looking for.

But, what actually is marketing?

Many people throw the word around not really knowing what it means and often using it in the wrong context. According to CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) it’s all about; identifying, developing and working.
Identifying something that customers or businesses want to buy or a problem that they need solved.
Developing a solution for that need or problem. It could be a product or a service.
Working out how you charge the right price for the product or service. You need to price it so that people will buy, but you also need to make a profit.

It sounds simple?

The theory is but the realities are more complex – it’s a challenging career where no two days are the same. Within it, you’ve got what’s known as the 7 Ps of marketing. We’ve already covered product and price, but there’s also:

Promotion – how you tell your customers about your products or services and how you market and sell to them. This includes advertising, PR and digital.
Place – where your product is sold. So, building and retaining good relationships with your retailers is a key part of the role.
Packaging – this is about how your product is presented to your customer and first impressions really count. Small tweaks such as a slight colour change can completely change a customer’s perception and affect their decision to buy.
Positioning – this is all about where your brand sits in the hearts and minds of your existing and prospective customers. It’s how people think about your company and how they talk about it.
People – the right people, inside and outside of the business, are a hugely important part of the marketing mix.

It’s a rewarding career and opportunities are vast too. No business or industry can survive without it, so the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing your sector. Or you might be looking for a career switch within your chosen career field. Pre-kids, if you worked in sales and want to switch to marketing to avoid all those hours on the road then you’re in a great position. You already have an existing knowledge of the industry and sales and marketing work hand-in-hand, so it won’t be like starting from scratch.

So, how do you get into marketing?

The good news is, that you can get into marketing without a degree. You can train flexibly online around work and family life. Try the professionally accredited Combined Sales & Marketing Diploma or if you want to be an established member of the digital age, try the Digital Marketing Diploma or the Digital Retox from Digital Mums.

The CIM also offers a series of diplomas, depending on experience. The Foundation Certificate gives you the basics, but there are a host of other short courses.

If your financial situation allows it, it’s worth considering an entry-level position to get a foot in the door. If you’ve already got commercial experience and are keen to develop, chances are you’ll rise up the ladder quite quickly. Some employers may also support financially with formal qualifications whilst you’re working. You benefit, they benefit – it’s a win-win.

Check out our latest marketing roles HERE
For more information about marketing visit www.cim.co.uk

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Coaching Skills for Parents from Positive Parenting

How many of us went to the University of Parenting?

How many of us were given a manual when we had our first babies?

Where is that rulebook, the one that tells us what to do, when & how, the one that tells us how to deal with teenagers?

There’s plenty of advice out there, but no definitive answers, not really. I never did I go to that University, never was I given the manual or the rulebook – yet I raised 4 boys to be fine young men. I had a career, a hard-working and successful one too, good money, great benefits and a wonderful business, long hours and working away a lot, yet still I managed to balance being a Mum with that career.

Or did I balance it? Sometimes I have wondered what effect my career has had on my kids?

Then I discovered a relatively new programme called Coaching Skills for Parents and was offered a place on the pilot programme.

This was and is a totally immersive programme aimed at parents & guardians – in fact anyone with responsibility for children (of any age). A programme that doesn’t give any rules (it’s most definitely not super nanny!) – but what it does is provide a safe environment for parents to explore what children really need, and how to meet those needs. The programme gives parents the skills & techniques to take back into the family environment and coach their own children using the same techniques.

Essential needs of children

The programme centres on the 4 essential developmental needs of children – those of love & security, responsibility, new experiences and praise & recognition.

It follows the writings of many influential people, including Nancy Kline (listening skills), Mia Keller Pringle (4 essential needs) and Stephen Covey (habits of highly effective families).

My own experience of Coaching Skills for Parents

There were 8 other delegates, and we quickly built a high trust environment, becoming very close friends (and we’ve stayed in touch) as we shared many personal memories of our own upbringings and experiences of being parents & guardians.

There were many times when the emotion in the room spilled over, when we had some very personal realisations about our own upbringings, how our parents did this for us, how we could improve our own parenting, and for some of us how we wished we had parented differently.

For me personally, there was one powerful technique that was particularly poignant, where we looked at the life of a relationship (I picked mine with my eldest son) – right back to birth and then up to today it looked at my highs and lows in my relationship with him, and really helped me feel the whole relationship not just the most recent event, or the most outstanding ones (or worst ones). This was a visual exercise, using flip-chart & coloured pens – a powerful medium for me to use as the visual nature of it made it more personal and meaningful. It also helped me celebrate the highs, because I could see just how many there had been.

On this programme I learnt a lot about the needs of children, and about my own needs as a parent! There are many techniques shared with us that help us understand our own upbringings and those of the children we are responsible for.

Examples of some techniques covered:

• The Emotional Needs of Children (and Parents!)
• How Children Make Sense of the World
• Praise – the Magic Ingredient
• Labels and seeing things with fresh eyes
• How our own early experiences affect our parenting style
• Position in the Family
• Dealing with Feelings
• The Family Emotional Bank Account
• Family Meetings
• Developing responsibility and critical thinking

I learnt a lot about where I had possibly gone wrong as a parent (although there is no rule book), and certainly where I could be a better parent going forward. I recently became a first-time grandma, and my efforts will now also be focussed on what I can do to help guide my son & his partner as brand-new parents, and the role I play as a grandparent – a vital role model in many children’s lives.

How I use what I learnt for others

As an accredited coach, I am now delivering this same programme to groups of parents & guardians, in many settings & locations, sometimes offering affordable taster sessions to give people a feel of what coaching skills might offer them and their family, then a structured programme through regular sessions for consecutive weeks.

I also deliver a new version of the programme to separating & divorcing parents, helping them to build strong stable relationships with their children in a new home environment.

There are preparations now under way for launching an online interactive version of this programme during Summer 2018, and a franchise opportunity during 2019.

What people say

“The whole course has changed my home and work life completely. My whole attitude has changed for both & will always be improving everyday from now”

“There is more structure in my life. More focused on how I want things to be. A better relationship with my husband. All this stops one from crossing over into another which gives me a happier work life”

“I have learned more about myself & how I can influence my child. The course has helped me take a different perspective on things & this has helped me deal with the relationship strains that occur when you get a new addition to the family. I have learnt a lot that can’t help much at present but is going to be of massive benefit as Olly gets older”

“I’ve become a lot more patient; I take more time with the kids”

“I’ve gained an appreciation of the workings of a child’s mind & how their beliefs are formed. I can take this into all my relationships as it helps me to better understand adults as well as children”

Want to find out more?

Steph Durbin-Wood is an internationally accredited coach, a member of the International Coaching Federation, providing personal, executive & business coaching, consulting, and now parent & family coaching through the Coaching Skills for Parents programme.

www.prospectcoaching.co.uk
www.positiveparenting.coach

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A Dads Share

Back in November 2014 my wife and I were overjoyed with the arrival of our daughter Beatrice. Being at home with her for those first two weeks was amazing and she was perfect in every way, but a month in to her life she was diagnosed with hip-dysplasia and we were told she would need surgery. After bringing her home she was made to wear a large, heavy & very awkward spica cast and the practicalities of this meant a simple thing like picking her up became too much for my Wife.

At the time my job had become dull and unfulfilling so I was more than happy for a change
of scenery. I took split paternity leave in May 2015 and would spend eight months off work and at home with Bea. The first few weeks it felt like a holiday as the sun was shining and the feelings of stress, monotony of the daily commute and rat-race dissipated. I found myself getting up with a smile on my face and sorting Bea’s breakfast, changing her nappy, dressing her and planning the day ahead. It all felt fresh and new and different but no doubt these feelings were born out of a craving for change. I did get some people (you know who you are) questioning my decision and giving what they saw as banter about how I was now a house husband (amongst other offensive labels) but I took it all in jest.

While I was finding the arrangement quite easy I knew my wife was struggling emotionally. She is one of the strongest willed people alive and she had always been determined to go back to work after having a baby but she felt like she was fighting society’s image of what mothers should be and her own instincts to care for our daughter.

As the weeks went by and I’d fallen in to good & bad routines. I started to get a bit defensive with continuing comments from (mostly) male friends, coupled with waves of bottled up anxiety about Bea’s condition. She would play on the living room floor by pulling herself around with her arms, dragging her cast behind. I was also feeling guilty by not being at work and earning money. Looking back, I was in a very bad place and I wish I’d opened up and found some help. I read this week that 28% of Men suffer from post-natal depression but all I could think when I read this statistic was what my late grandfather would have thought of men these days. My generation has had to re-mould the male image more than any other as we’ve advanced in to more gender fluid times.

When October rolled round and I had gone way past the six months originally agreed for split-paternity leave. My work couldn’t have been more helpful at the time as they were well aware of Bea’s needs and we’d agreed that I could return on a three-day basis. We worked out a schedule between family who we couldn’t be more thankful for and I returned to work.

Going back was strange and the biggest annoyance was having to constantly explain my situation to anyone asking where I’d been. A group email hadn’t gone round before I’d left as I wasn’t the one with the womb. I got questions on whether or not we were going to have anymore kids which began to feel intrusive.

We did eventually decide to have another baby and Eliza came along in the September of 2016. As my wife’s employer couldn’t offer her flexible hours she decided to go it alone and I was back full-time. A few months in I was asked to go for a promotion within my dept. I had been with the company for 10 years but when it came down to the final decision they chose someone else and I still wonder if my taking SPL had anything to do with it.

Overall I think we’ve been lucky as since I started working for our websites I’ve heard terrible stories from women who’ve been moved sideways, demoted or let go simply for choosing to have children. There needs to be a total attitude shift in the way parents can work and the way mothers are treated by their employers. Technology allows us to work anywhere these days and everyone should be given the option to work flexibly.

By Liam Hamilton
Co-Founder @ Daddyjobs.co.uk

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High Profile Returners… Helen Wright is doing it for herself, for you and for the love of flex.

The birth of “9-2-3” has been a very personal journey. Following a career as a Broadcast Journalist (where I worked for both the BBC and ITV), I stopped working to have a family. During this time, amongst other things, I was Vice Chair of the local Pre School and joined the Parish Council. But when I wanted to return to the workplace, I found being tied to the school run was prohibitive, as was the cost of hiring a nanny to look after my three children.

Chatting to other mums in the playground, I realised I was not alone. There were accountants, solicitors, marketing execs, HR professionals… the list goes on. None were working. What a brain drain! What a waste of experience. Here was a bunch of over-talented women all keen to work – all wanting to put their considerable expertise back to good use.

In short, I realised there are lots of talented workers struggling to be discovered, along with lots of employers struggling to find the professionals they needed. So in 2015 I decided to set up a recruitment agency, “9-2-3”, in order to help connect them.

9-2-3 specialises in flexible roles – whether that’s 9-3 school hours, more traditional part-time hours (of a few days a week) or even full-time hours (but with some home-working or compressed hours).

All the research shows that flexible workers are more productive, have fewer sick days, and greater staff retention – plus they’re more engaged at work, they want to be there!

Last year 9-2-3 commissioned some research of our own which showed that 3 out of 4 office workers (both male and female) believe that we will all be working flexibly within 5 years. After all, flexible working benefits everyone – both businesses and candidates; whether they’re mums or dads, or those with caring responsibilities, or those simply seeking a better work-life balance (so they can come into their place of work feeling refreshed, valued and raring to go).

9-2-3 has enjoyed continued growth and success (in fact we’re hiring ourselves now). We’ve been working with a variety of forward-thinking businesses, all looking to recruit experienced professionals on a flexible basis. We’re currently working on roles in the charity sector, HR, sales, finance and more…

Last year we also launched The 9-2-3 Club, with an exciting event at Westminster – supported by MPs and Ministers. The idea behind the Club is to give members the opportunity to get together at regular meetings where they can share experiences and gain in confidence before re-entering the workplace. These meetings are designed to be fun and informal get-togethers, where we can share experiences and feel inspired and empowered to move our careers forward in a flexible way.

I believe there’s a revolution taking place in our workplaces, and that flexible working is the future. The more of us shouting about it – the louder our voice! So the next time you are speaking to an employer, ask them what flexible working arrangements they have in place, and together we can improve our workplaces for everyone.

You can find all Helen’s latest flexible roles here