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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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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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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

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THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is very, very, tired.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has spent nearly every night of the last 2 weeks on the phone to the GoDaddy web development team in Arizona. This time it’s because she has accidentally deleted half of the Home Page (F.M.L.) and at 2am, CANNOT be arsed to try and fanny around figuring out how to get it back.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is aware that she has a very tricky 6am meeting with her 2 daughters in the morning that she will definitely NOT be allowed to call in sick for, or cancel and that the 3rd glass of Malbec in her hand was probably not the best idea she’s had this evening.

The clock is ticking past 2.30am… THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is now very tired (and a little tipsy), ‘GoDaddy Arizona’ has finally informed her how to fix her erroneous deletion of half the Home Page, but THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is still not able to rest.

No.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has been asked by her PR agency, Harvey & Hugo, to write a Blog about why she wanted to make the Mummyjobs.co.uk community site in the first place?

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is currently so tired, that she cannot remember why she thought starting her own business would be a good idea and is not at all pleased that she cannot get out of writing the blog, she can’t, she was supposed to write said blog, 2 weeks ago…

So THE MUMMY of mummyjobs wrote;

“Hi.

My name is Cheney Hamilton and I’m a border line Alcoholic (that’s a joke, although I do enjoy the occasional bottle of wine!), as well as THE MUMMY of mummyjobs.co.uk

I am currently serving my second sentence of maternity leave (I’m 7 months in) and somewhat surprisingly I have grown very fond of my inmates. They are fast becoming my best friends and keep me constantly entertained.

My first sentence was spent longing for my adult counterparts and a life outside the front door; amazing how a little thing like a child born with hip dysplasia can so easily and fundamentally rock your world – The short story?  My Bea was trussed up in a Pavlik Harness at 6 weeks, Frog Cast at 8 weeks, all clear at 4 months, relapse at 6 months, surgery at 10 months, full body Hip Spica until she was 13 months old; which at least allowed us to have an Happy effing 2nd Christmas, thank you very much.  The long story was filled with tears, trauma and a profound wonder at how resilient that this little life which we had brought into the world, could be. (If you’re interested, or anyone out there is going through this – please do get in touch – I’ll give you the long story with a happy ending!)

Anyway, as you might imagine, I went running back to work after 5 months – thank the Lord for the MP who allowed parents to split maternity leave, thank him even more for my more than willing husband!

Back to my second sentence and I can honestly say that I had every intention of going back to my career. My employer was great with everything I went through with Bea, I really couldn’t have asked for more than the understanding and support I received. But this time something felt different…

It’s true that I still miss adult interaction and the buzz of being on a sales floor, but there is something deeply gratifying in spending the days with my children and watching them grow. Wondering where they learnt that funny phrase, or marvelling at how quickly they grasped the concept of things that we as adults would take an age to learn.

So I started to map out how I could make it work; be home with the kids, but still have a career and bring home the bacon.  For me it was simple. I took something that I was good at and merged it with the one thing I will always need help and support with. Digital Sales & Motherhood – I will let you decide which is which! So mummyjobs.co.uk was born – and Not to get mums a job, as one might think from its name; but to be a tool, a confidant, a support and hopefully a friend who helps mums get on with the job of being a mum, in whatever form she needs it.

So that’s what I did and why I did it.

I’m happy to say my girls are both well – they are already confident, strong, independent women who know what they want and exactly how to get it…

They are 2½ and 7 months old respectively.”

It’s now 3am, THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has only 1 more sleep until the launch of mummyjobs.co.uk as well as that very early meeting with the kids. Her last bottle of Malbec has just dripped its last drop – it must be time for bed.

Good Night.

 

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Don’t give in to guilt, you’ve worked hard for your career

When you have children, your list of job roles suddenly multiplies. You become a mother, a caregiver, a nurse, a protector and many more. But one title many mothers feel guilty about is one they held long before their little bundle came along; employee.

Some women will choose to step right back into their career, others will take up new challenges, perhaps working from home or setting up a business. No matter which applies to you, there is one common thread; you have nothing to feel guilty about. Science says so.

A study led by New York’s Columbia University School of Social Work found that while there are downsides to mothers returning to work during their child’s first year, there are also significant advantages, including an increase in household income and a greater likelihood that children receive a high quality of care.

Here are some things to remember when feeling guilty about returning to work:

Life is full of sacrifices
There will always be compromises and sacrifices when it comes to combining being a mother and having a career. What’s important is that you remember why you are making them in the first place.
Make a list of the reasons why you go to work – money, sanity, friends that don’t wipe their sticky fingers on your clothes (we hope!). Although there will be times you miss a dance show or a school assembly, your family and yourself are all better off with you having a rewarding and satisfying career.

Should is not a word that belongs in your vocabulary
Do you remember your mum screaming on the sidelines at every football game? How about right at the front for the Christmas production every year? No? That’s because it’s unrealistic, especially for working mums!
‘Should’ is an unhealthy way of looking at your parental responsibilities. Once you replace it with ‘could’, you’ll find yourself feeling less guilty about choosing to work late on that all important project than being at the fourth performance of Jimmy being second octopus in the school play.

‘Good enough’, is good enough
You’ve made the decision to go back to work and your career is going better than ever – but you’re working yourself into the ground by overcompensating at home to be the ‘perfect parent’. If you find what that is – do let us know!
Going to work doesn’t mean it’s more important than your children, it’s just important to you. So when you’re at home, be present, be happy and be a role model. Don’t try to be perfect.

Although being a mother is possibly the most rewarding career you will ever have, you never need to feel guilty about going to work and doing something for you.

If you want to chat to like-minded mothers, or want to get something off your chest, join the conversation here.