Working Mums: The Juggle is Real
Just after my son was born, I remember being so jealous of everyone going to work. I couldn’t understand why at the time, but looking back, now I realise it was probably because my whole world had changed. I was craving normality. Once you become a parent, you have to find your new normal. Even so, I knew right there, right then, that I definitely wanted to return to work after my maternity leave.
I’m a part-time working mum. I have two children – a boy (four) and a girl (one) – ‘a pigeon pair’ as my dad likes to call them. They are amazing children and I love them dearly, but yes, I have considered running away to the circus once or twice.
Luckily, Torpedo is a great place to work, and I believe working mums have a lot to offer any company. Usually, time away from children is limited (and becomes very precious), so it’s important it’s used wisely. Most working mums that I know are (and have to be) super-efficient, very conscientious and resilient. They also have great people skills (playgroups and playgrounds are battlegrounds – navigate those and you can deal with anyone).
I know returning to work is not for everyone though. Everyone deals with motherhood differently and going back to work may not be right for some. Financial commitments aside, no one should feel under pressure to return to a job that isn’t a right fit for them, or their family. However, if you can get the balance right and keep at least one or two of the plates spinning, I do believe you can find a happy medium.
It’s great to work alongside the other mums at Torpedo who all experience the same work/life juggling act. Torpedo’s ‘SuperMums’ have the strength, tenacity and sense of humour to get through the good and the bad days. They also give great advice – see what they have to say about being a working mum below:
Adele – Senior Designer
- How many children do you have? Two
- Briefly describe your average morning: I get up before the rest of the family is awake to exercise (interruption-free). Then I get myself ready before waking anyone. I then have my coffee (very important) and prepare breakfast for everyone. Next it’s getting my two small boys ready for school/nursery. I drop them both off before heading to the office.
- Best thing about being a working mum? Having a little adult time away from being ‘Mum’ and being a valued member of a great team at work, but also being able to give dedicated time to my children once I’m home, and at weekends.
- Hardest thing about being a working mum? Juggling everything, especially when the children’s dad is away on business.
- What is your top tip for getting the right balance between parenthood and work? Trying not to feel guilty (which is often impossible) about dashing off at the end of the day to do the school/nursery run – we aren’t the only ones doing this.
- How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave? The first time I returned, I was apprehensive as to how my adjusted working hours would fit in with my team at work, but the adjustment was seamless. After my second maternity leave, I was less worried as I knew, as a working mum I would be supported again in my role.
- What advice would you give to anyone returning to work after maternity leave? Get the balance right for you, not everyone’s situation is the same, so do what is right for you and make sure you get a little time for yourself.
Ellen – Marketing Executive
- How many children do you have? Three teenage boys, one at uni, two still at home.
- Briefly describe your average morning. Making packed lunches and kissing them goodbye at the door – whether they like it or not!
- Best thing about being a working mum? Working makes me feel like I’m still part of the real world, I get to spend time with different people and that keeps life interesting.
- Hardest thing about being a working mum? Sometimes it’s hard to manage my time, to make sure that everything at work and home is getting the attention it deserves.
- What is your top tip for getting the right balance between parenthood and work? I feel I’m both a better parent and a better employee if I get some “me” time, and I refuse to feel guilty about it!
- How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave? I was excited and nervous about returning to work – but I had been a full-time mum for 11 years and I knew that if I didn’t bite the bullet, I’d have become unemployable.
- What advice would you give to anyone returning to work after maternity leave? Be honest and realistic (with yourself and your employer) about what you can manage. Promising too much will only put you under pressure and could undermine a successful return to work.
Emily – Account Director
- How many children do you have? One
- Briefly describe your average morning: My son wakes me before 7am. Then I start getting him ready for nursery (8am start). We have a cuddle, change his nappy, then get dressed – which is often a challenge as he likes to wriggle about. He has some milk and then I get dressed (I try not to leave the house in my PJs). We then drive to nursery. I work from home the majority of time so when I’m back from the drop-off, I have a bit of time to prepare before work starts at 9am.
- Best thing about being a working mum? The time apart is hard, but the smiles I get when I pick him up from nursery are the best.
- Hardest thing about a being working mum? Being away from my little one. I only returned from maternity leave last November so I’m still getting used to the new routine. I love being back at work, but it doesn’t change the fact that I would also like to spend more time with my baby.
- What is your top tip for getting the right balance between parenthood and work? Is there a top tip? If there is, please share.
- How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave? Part of me was ready, part of me was nervous. Definitely a lot of mixed emotions. I had ‘Mum Guilt’ for the first few weeks back at work, but it soon eased, and I got back into my stride. I shared parental leave with my partner so for six weeks after me returning, I knew my son was with his daddy, so it made things easier.
- What advice would you give to anyone returning to work after maternity leave? See if you can take KIT days to help ease yourself back into the work environment. Then hopefully returning back to work won’t be too much of a shock to the system. Also, if your child goes to nursery, stock up on vitamins, we go through multiple colds a month!
Maria – Account Manager
- How many children do you have? Two – my daughter’s three and my son’s four
- Briefly describe your average morning: An obstacle race. On a standard weekday, I tend to leave everything ready the night before and that optimises my mornings. I’m lucky that we are two at home, so work is split between my husband and me. Last Thursday morning for instance, my daughter had a tantrum that lasted for an hour – just for dressing her. It was similar to wrestling a crocodile.
- Best thing about being a working mum? Not forgetting who I am and what I enjoy doing as a human being.
- Hardest thing about being a working mum? Finding the right work/life balance and coping with the workload.
- What is your top tip for getting the right balance between parenthood and work? Planning your day/week ahead and having routines – it makes all the difference.
- How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave? I had mixed feelings about this. I didn’t want to leave my kids, but at the same time, I felt that it was the right thing to do.
- What advice would you give to anyone returning to work after maternity leave? I’d say that it can be really hard at the beginning, especially seeing your baby upset when leaving him/her at nursery. It works well to arrange the baby settling in at nursery a few weeks before going back to work (if that’s the case/childcare), and doing the transition gradually, rather than all at once. And also, planning, leaving meals ready, cook and freeze, so it saves time each evening, leaving more time for other things such as baths, storytime, etc.
Marie – Product Marketing
- How many children do you have? Two
- Briefly describe your average morning: Manic but the most stressful bit is actually leaving the house – making sure everyone is up on time, then fed and changed, then getting everyone out, with everything they need, in a limited amount time, before a fall, a tantrum or another nappy change is due.
- Best thing about being a working mum? I get a chance to be me, and I love my job and working at Torpedo. My role is quite varied, so it’s also a chance to use a vast array of skills and learn new ones.
- Hardest thing about being a working mum? Remembering everything and the ‘Mum Guilt’ about everything. The various worries about the kids when you’re not with them, but also with work. I find it hard doing fewer hours than others I work with too, like you are letting someone down, AKA ‘Work Guilt’.
- What is your top tip for getting the right balance between parenthood and work? I’m not sure there is one. Balancing work and parenthood is a constant plate-spinning exercise. Being pulled in various directions is hard, but I would say, try to organise as much as you can and don’t take on too much. But mostly, be present in whatever situation you are in.
- How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave? It was a little less daunting for me as I have worked at Torpedo for a while now. The office and people had changed a little when I returned but the familiarity was still there, I’ve made some amazing friends over the years at Torpedo and to be honest, I was more excited than nervous to return.
- What advice would you give to anyone returning to work after maternity leave? Try and do some trial days away from your baby, before you actually return to work. Maybe start the childcare a week before your actual return to work date. You’ll have time to practise the drop-offs and you’ll have a day or two ‘free’ to start to prepare. Also, don’t take on too much – don’t try to be Superwoman!
We’d like to give a big shout out to all working mums juggling their many responsibilities, particularly in these challenging times. You rock!