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Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Meet Rebecca Amin

Rebecca Amin, Our New Flexible Working Warrior on MummyJobs.

One in three working mums suffer with unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress caused by managing a job and looking after children, according to a survey by Smart TMS – a mental health clinic.

This is a statistic I and, I am sure, many other mothers can relate to. Sadly this is often a silent struggle – many fearing if we voice our feelings we may be judged as a bad employee or bad mum. We thought we could have it all – the career and the family, is this how it is meant to feel? Should we just suck it up and get on with it?

I am Rebecca Amin, a Career Coach and I used to think that’s just how it would have to be. Thankfully, my mind-set has now changed, but it wasn’t easy.

Returning To Work After Maternity Leave.

In February 2016, I returned to work after my second maternity leave with all the thoughts so many of us have, “it’s my time to get back to my career, to being me again!” I returned, full of excitement, ready for phase two of my career – the post-children part. With some trepidation – I had returned from one maternity leave two years before and struggled. I had fallen pregnant quite soon after my return, so put my lack of passion for my work down to pregnancy and first time mum stuff – getting to grips with nursery, new routine etc. This time it was for real. Time to make my mark again, get back to the heady days of high performance, recognition, loving my career again…

BANG. It didn’t happen. At first I gave myself time to settle back in, gave myself allowances. However, each day felt harder and harder to find motivation for my work and all passion for what I did had gone. The fact was the environment and work I was doing had lost its shine. I didn’t care enough. I still did what was needed, because I had to, not because I got any enjoyment from my work.

This is not what I expected. I had always enjoyed my job. At first I felt confused – what was wrong with me? Was I suffering from delayed post-natal depression? Why was everyone else happy? Then guilt – why is this not enough for me? I should feel lucky to have a good job, healthy kids, a nice home… Next resent and anger. Why should I do this? Why can’t I do something that gives me some satisfaction?

Looking back, this looks like the stages of grief and I now believe, in some way, I was grieving my working life pre-children. 

My Career No Longer Suited Me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mum. I wanted to have a career, but I couldn’t carry on like this. As I worked through what was happening it became clear the career I was in was simply the wrong fit for me at this point in my life. I wanted to do something more worthwhile and meaningful to me. I needed to make a change – but what and how?

Despite the creeping sense of greyness blanketing my life, I needed my salary and an alternative job that I felt excited about, at the right level was hard to find. As a result, I wound up feeling completely stuck.

The Need To Make Positive Career Choices.

For a time, I told myself sticking with a job I was unhappy in, was what it meant to be grown-up. It was the realistic and responsible choice… But this approach was not sustainable if I wanted to protect my mental health and be happy at work, and therefore in life, again. I went round in circles and eventually bit the bullet and made changes. I took a four month sabbatical. During which I spent time reflecting on what would make me happy. I thought about what I really needed in my working life and career and trained as an accredited Career Coach.

I have since found these thoughts and feelings of course were not exclusive to me. It made me feel shocked and saddened to realise just how prevalent this unhappiness, anxiety and stress is, in working mums. This is why I dedicate my coaching to supporting mums in the same situation.

Of course not all stressed mums need a total career change. Some do, but some simply need tweaks – more flexibility. Not to be made to feel guilty for going to Sports Day, not smiling on the outside apparently holding it all together, but regularly hiding in the bathroom crying on the days it all feels too much.

Mental Health At Work.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 15% of working adults experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time work are twice as likely to suffer than men (19.8% vs. 10.9%). People Management have reported more than a third who have flexible working experience an improvement in their mental health as a direct result. 

The Future Of Work.

I love supporting my clients to take control and figure out changes to get back to being happy in their careers again. What I would love even more would be if more felt flexibility at work was an option. Not something gifted to you once you have proved yourself after years of service. And I don’t mean the honour of being allowed to work from home on a Friday, but true flexibility that impacts on life for the better. Seeing so many leave jobs with flexibility at the crux of their struggles is outrageous. The talent lost. The confidence shattered of individuals feeling like they are failing. The belief they can’t continue professional careers if they have children and need flexibility. 

The optimist in me feels the tide may be turning. I for one truly hope we may be at a pivotal point for flexible working. 

If you enjoyed this post share across your social platforms. Also tune in next month to read more on children being career passion killers…

If you would like to find out more about my Career Coaching, please visit my website Rebecca Amin Coaching.

Or connect with me on my Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Rebecca Amin
Rebecca Amin

Categories
Lifestyle And Wellbeing

11 Easy Ways To A Positive Mind

What to do when it all gets a bit too much.

Our hectic lives can sometimes leave us feeling pretty flat and exhausted. This has a knock on effect on our family and working lives. In 2017/18 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 57% of all working days lost due to ill health (Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018). Parents are particularly good at neglecting themselves. Of course we believe flexible working options could go a long way to helping reduce these figures. When you feel low, achieving a positive mind can seem pretty difficult. But it can be done with the following easy steps.

Signs You May Be Running On Empty.

  • Tasks become overwhelming to the point where you ignore them. Sometimes even simple tasks become difficult.
  • You get headaches (of course there are many reasons for headaches but stress is one of them)
  • Eating a poor diet – motivation to eat mindfully and well just isn’t there but the takeaway number is! Chronic stress can lead to obesity or weight loss.
  • Getting all snappy and shouty at the kids for no real good reason.
  • Constant guilt and worrying, about everything.
  • Lack of focus
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Palpitations

Source: NHS Website

How do you switch from a negative state of mind to a positive one?

Here are a few simple things which could help you on your way.  

#1 STOP and BREATHE

In a stressful moment, when things seem like they are getting out of control, step away. Stop and breathe, breathe from deep down at the bottom of your lungs. Sometimes all you need is that few long deep breaths to refocus and judge the situation for what it is.

#2 Be Realistic

Ask yourself ‘can I change this problem?’, ‘Is it my job/position/role to solve this problem?’, ‘Is there an actual answer?’. If the answer is ‘no’, then don’t waste your energy trying. Some things can be solved with time and effort but others simply can’t.

“Sometimes all we can do is surf the wave until we reach the shore, where we can walk forward once more.”

Focus your thoughts and energy on the here and now. Let’s face it, energy is in short supply when you have a young family. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t and you will be well on your way to achieving a positive mind.

#3 Use Positive Affirmations

Nothing beats some positive affirmations or positivity quotes. Speak it and you will believe it. Why not put up some positive quotes around the house in frames, make them a piece of art.

#4 Take Some Time Out

As much as we love our family and friends we all need some time out. This may just be an hour away or maybe a night or two away. It may be on your own, with your OH or friends. We certainly all need some guilt free down time, for our mental and physical wellbeing. Honestly, you are allowed!

#5 Go For A Walk

Going for a walk can do wonders in achieving that positive mindset. Firstly, the fresh air, the green and gold of nature. Secondly the exercise. No work, pots or washing in sight. Check out these bloggers favourite days out for some inspiration. Unsurprisingly, the outdoors topped the list.

#6 Down Tools, Write A List

You’re rushing around, therefore losing focus and direction. Everything needs doing – NOW! But, it doesn’t. Stop what you are doing and write a list. Prioritise, what needs doing today and what can wait. It’s actually quite cathartic to tick things off a list. Can any of the tasks be simplified. For example online shopping, a quick call instead of a lengthy email?

If you find it difficult getting to sleep at night because you are worrying about things you need to do then write it all down in a list. Then put it down, read a book or watch a bit of Netflix and go to bed knowing that you have prioritised tasks for the next day.

#7 Speak To Friends

Sometimes you just have to unload with good friends. Friends don’t need to have the solution, just a pair of ears to listen and pair of arms for a hug! Sometimes just talking about issues out loud can lighten the load so much. Thus often putting things into perspective. Don’t let mum guilt get in the way of you taking a little time out to see friends.

#8 Read

Reading can really help you to unwind. Yes there may still be a full basket of washing needing doing or a toddler that may wake any second but this is your time, the washing can wait and the toddler might not actually wake.

#9 Craft

Sometimes the focus needed to do craft can take your mind off whatever it is bothering you. Maybe a bit of baking instead.

#10 Exercise Your Way To A Positive Mind

Exercise can drastically improve the health of your mind as well as your body. Therefore helping you to focus and see clearly. It helps you stay positive and be better at decision making. Once a week maybe enough to see these benefits. Of course if it’s weight loss you’re after that requires a bit more effort!

#11 There’s An App For That

Check out this list of apps, all aim to set you on your way to achieving a positive and healthy mind.

Do you have any ways to unwind, refocus or regain a positive mind? Do you suffer from letting everything get on top of you? Let us know in the comments.

On A More Serious Note #ItsOkNotToBeOk

For most of us, these steps may be enough to find our happy place again. However, for some more help is needed. Maybe you aren’t sleeping (and it’s not the kids fault) or constantly sleeping. Maybe you are shutting yourself off from loved ones. Perhaps the anger or snappiness is getting worse. Perspective doesn’t even come into the equation and you can’t explain why you feel like this. As a result you feel like your life is overshadowed by a dark looming cloud. Possibly leading to suicidal thoughts, feelings of self loathing and worthlessness…please, please if this is you…talk to someone, anyone.

#12 Get Help

A very important but sometimes difficult step to achieving a positive mind. You are not alone and there is help out there. Above all DON’T suffer in silence. TALK. Make sure you get the help you need and deserve.

Try these

Samaritans 116 123 (Free phone)

SANE 0300 304 7000 4.30pm – 10.30pm daily

MIND 0300 123 3393 9am – 6pm Monday – Friday

MIND 0300 123 5999 (BlueLight Service) 9am – 6pm Monday – Friday or Text 84999

For some other parenting relevant helplines see this list here

Categories
Dads Holiday Specials Mums Returning To Work

CHILDCARE OPTIONS AND FLEXIBLE WORKING

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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Holiday Specials

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

Schools are out, fine weather is here (for the moment) and the mood in the workplace is suddenly much brighter – until all but one fan breaks in your un-air-conditioned office.

If you’re looking for a new role however, this isn’t the best season for you. With many taking longer breaks throughout the Summer holidays, roles can be few and far between – and the ones that do come up often have a longer recruitment process to allow for absences.

But don’t despair, here are five tips for you how you can spend the Summer wisely and be ready for the September recruitment rush.

1. Update
Summer is a great time to update your look, your wardrobe and your attitude to life in general. Although we think you’re lovely as you are, use this time to try out new looks and take inspiration – it’s time that grey pants suit retired!

While you’re updating your look, it might also be time to update your CV, especially if you’ve not had to use it for a while. There are great tools out there such as CV Knowhow to help you build a concise, eye-catching CV that will be sure to win over any future employer.

2. Training
Are you looking to change career? Or want to develop skills you think would be beneficial in your new role?

The Summer months give you the opportunity to look into the courses available, the range of options and perhaps help you find topics you may not otherwise have considered.

If you’re looking for a way to strengthen the skills displayed on your CV, why not have a look at our range of eight CPD accredited business courses to add value to yourself and your new employer?

3. On the move?
If you’re considering relocating, or simply looking at a role in a different part of town, use the longer days over Summer to get to know your potential new stomping ground.

Arrange family days out to get to know new routes, try out the best places for lunch or scout out great meeting spots.

The husband and children will think you’re just being generous with the days out, no need to tell them about your ulterior motive!

4. Get to know recruiters
Although there will be a lot of ‘out of office’ messages popup, no-one takes the whole Summer off or closes down for the season. So use this time to get to know recruiters, introduce yourself and build a rapport.

This will give you a much stronger standing when roles start to come in and you’ll automatically pop into consultants’ minds.

Plus, they’ll likely be glad of someone to talk to!

5. Get to know your colleagues
This may seem like nonsense if you’re looking to leave them, but take a moment or two to think about why you want to leave.

If this is because you think you’ve gone as far as you can professionally, by all means off you go. But if you’re simply unhappy with who you work with, it may be because you’ve not had the chance to get to know them properly.

Try arranging a drink after work, or take your lunches outside from an impromptu picnic. Once you get away from the stressful office environment, you may find a best friend you’d never want to leave.

One thing to always remember during the Summer is to always ensure you make the most of the weather and fresh air. Although you may be short-staffed at times and find yourself covering more work than usual, that’s no excuse for missing out on the great outdoors and sunshine we see so rarely!

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Holiday Specials

Surviving the un-survivable – travelling with children

It’s finally Summer, the season we’ve all been waiting for! You’ve been working hard all year and now is the time to pack those new bikinis, that over-sized hat you’ll likely never wear and of course, more shoes than the number of days you’re away.

But before you get carried away with the packing there’s one thing to remember – getting there. With the children.

Going on a Summer holiday isn’t quite as relaxing as it was in your child-free days but it doesn’t mean it’s any less fun! So, to help you through, here are some top tips for stress-free travelling with your little darlings.

1. Mentally prepare
You know that they’re likely to get restless at passport control. Of course they’re going to go hyper after you’ve used them as bribes to combat aforementioned boredom. Yes, they’re going to start play fighting at 3am when you’re trying to find your hire car, and yes, one of them is going to get hurt.

Best thing to do? Don’t think too far ahead. Get through the problem in front of you at the time, the rest you can deal with when you get to it.

2. I Spy or iPad?
For long car journeys, I Spy – plus other car games – is a sure-fire winner. It encourages the children to look around them, see the world go past and can spark discussions where they may learn a thing or two.

I Spy however is not recommended on a plane, for obvious reasons. In this instance, the iPad (DS, Hudl, phone…) is the clear winner.

After all, no one wants to spend hours in a metal container next to an overweight gent who has just been identified as ‘F for Fat’ by your child.

3. Travel according to your routine
While this isn’t always possible, it’s wise to coincide your flight or long car journey with your child’s nap or bedtime.

By getting them into their PJ’s, brushing their teeth and reading them a story, they know these signals all lead to going to sleep. Although undoubtedly this will take much longer than usual due to the change of surroundings and activity going on around you, having them fall asleep as soon as possible means no cranky kids and a peaceful journey for you.

4. Pretend they’re not yours
Extreme but effective. Loudly exclaim your displeasure (getting fellow passengers on your side), put the pillow over your head and ignore them.

That, or wine.

Categories
Holiday Specials

Fathers Day treats for those special Daddies

It’s that time of year again, where us Mums put on our thinking caps to come up with a Father’s Day gift (meant to be a job for the children, always ends up being ours) to make Daddy feel appreciated.

Now, this doesn’t need to cost a fortune. If the children do give their input, it’s normally to suggest something bizarre like a new car or a set of golf clubs. Daddy is as likely to get those as he is a trip to space.

To help you out, we’ve come up with 5, easy and affordable ways to make Daddy feel appreciated, while getting the children involved in the present – because let’s face it, it is from them.

Breakfast in bed
Simple, affordable, the children can get involved and Daddy will be chuffed. Breakfast could be anything from a Full English to a bowl of cornflakes, depending on how energetic you’re feeling in the morning. The children will enjoy setting it up on a tray with a Father’s Day card and will probably argue over who gets to carry it in. It’s the gesture that counts and Daddy will agree.

Hand print wall art
The children will definitely enjoy getting involved in this. All you need is some child-friendly paint, a canvas or piece of card, and a picture frame (and nerves of steel if you don’t do it outside, think of the carpets). The children will love giving Daddy something that they’ve literally left their mark on!

Design a card
Generic but quick, cheap and effective. No child in their right mind wouldn’t love getting stuck in with PVA glue, feathers and glitter. It will be worth it just to see Dads face when he opens the envelope (if the feathers will fit).

Decorate a mug (or a beer glass if Daddy is that way inclined)
Ceramic or glass paint is easy enough to pick up in craft shops, online or even in a supermarket. Then all you need is a plain glass or mug and eager children. Dad will love taking his ‘World’s greatest’ mug to work to show off, even if it means bits of paint floating in his coffee.

Bake a cake
Who doesn’t like cake? This could possibly be the messiest idea of the five, but you get to eat cake at the end which makes it worthwhile. Pick up some coloured icing at the supermarket and let your children loose. Dad will love the gesture, and the fact he gets to eat cake.

Whatever you decide to do, have a great Father’s Day with Daddy and the children. He’s sure to appreciate whatever the children get or make him. He has to, it’s the law of Fatherhood.

Categories
Holiday Specials

Bank Holiday and Half Term heroes

We all know the feeling; leaving work on Friday knowing you are heading into a Bank Holiday weekend and the sheer elation you feel.

The possibilities are endless! A spa day with the girls, a cheeky night away with your other half, or even a wild night out and the now all too familiar two-day hangover.

Then you remember. Children. Suddenly, the appeal of an extra day off disappears.

But don’t despair! This Bank Holiday (which, by the way, leads into Half Term in case you’d forgotten and need to arrange emergency childcare. There’s great prosecco in M&S for buttering up grandparents), enjoy some fantastic days out in your local area and around the UK.

National Trust
True to form, the team at the National Trust has come up trumps with activities for children young and old at properties around the country. With the (hopefully) good weather, there is a distinct nature theme running through these activities.

Become a gardening champion at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire, plant pumpkin seeds at Winchester City Mill, Hampshire, or even go on a bat walk at Morden Hall Park in London.
Best take a change of clothes for the children – we’ve found anything with a ‘nature’ theme tends to need it.

Alton Towers and CBeebies Land
Although the idea of a park filled with the characters of your early morning wake up calls (generally those with the aforementioned two-day hangover), CBeebies Land is a great location for young children to play, explore and let off some steam.

With the added bonus of the adult’s playground that is Alton Towers, a water park, adventure golf and a tree top quest, make sure you invite the extended family so you can dump your children with them allow them to spend quality time with your children while you enjoy the rides.
They have fantastic offers on short breaks and park tickets, be sure to book in advance – and soon!

English Heritage
A trip to any English Heritage site is a step back into history and this Half Term, they will not disappoint. If you’re looking for a fun day out for the whole family to enjoy, yet learning something about our past, this is definitely where you need to be heading.

Visit Dartmouth Castle where young smugglers and sea dogs can take part in musket drills and other dastardly deeds. Or experience the skill and speed of knights on horseback at Beeston Castle. If the Victorian era is more your style, visit Witley Court for high-jinx including equestrian entertainment and falconry displays.

On your doorstep
No, this isn’t a new activity craze!

Be sure to check out activities and events in your local area for some great half term fun. Leisure centres, theatres, local charities and even shopping centres are known to host some of the best entertainment so be sure not to miss out.

Keep an eye on council websites and social media for details of the smaller events.

Whatever you get up to, have a great Bank Holiday weekend and Half Term. And if you do go out, be sure not to mix your drinks…