I recently returned from my 2nd maternity leave and I am the proud mum of two beautiful girls. Ruby, a head strong and funny five year-old about to start Year 1 at infant school and Bella the fast moving, stair climbing, shouty new addition who is one next month. I have a full-time working husband, a family home and a full-time role as a Recruitment Director at a Manchester and London-based Retail Fashion agency.
By day I am an experienced recruiter, manager and company director based in a busy central Manchester office. I work closely with my MD’s, based in London and manage a team of eight in Manchester; as well as recruit a fast paced and busy fashion buying desk. I regularly jump on the train to London for meetings – which is sometimes quicker than my daily commute from Huddersfield to Manchester!
By night (and ALL through the night) I am Mummy – feeder, storyteller, bum wiper and chief cuddler (with the husband of course). I often get from my friends (who do not work) “I don’t know how you do it” and sometimes I don’t know either.
Here are my top survival tips for all working mums:
This is the major factor in your survival. At work I am always organised (or try to be). At home, I have weekly meal plans written and bought for on a weekend. A weekly planner so everyone knows where they are supposed to be before and after school/childminder/grannies. Clothes including mine, are laid out the night before and packed lunches, breakfasts are also made the night before.
2. DIARIES & LISTS
I have four diaries – excessive I know! I use my Outlook diary at work for all work meetings and calls. I have a desk diary I write all work notes in. I have a Filofax for personal birthdays and dates and I have a family organiser at home for all out of work events that my husband also uses. I also make a lot of lists.
3. TIME MANAGEMENT
This is another really key factor. I use my commute time to work (I wrote this blog on my way home last night), check emails and also do a lot of life admin like contacting friends or making appointments. Try and start early – if I know I can’t work late that day I always try and be in the office earlier. This puts more pressure on the husband, but he would rather me be there at bath and bedtime. I am a keen exerciser and really struggle to find the time now I’m back at work. I have recently joined the gym below the office and try and go twice a week. The HIIT classes are 30 mins at 12 pm, which enables me to be back at my desk, showered and with a sandwich by 1 pm. Me and the girls in the office are convinced it makes you work more efficiently and feel energised in the afternoon too!
Work for a great boss and surround yourself with strong people (no I’m not just writing this because my MD might read this!!). I have been with the same business for nearly 12 years and in this time built my reputation, trust and relationship with my MD and colleagues. I have put in a lot of time and still work long hours when necessary; I have moved offices and re-located to London with the same business. Building this trust enables me to work from home when required and also have more flexibility within my working day.
To be a working mum you have to have a solid support network – starting with your husband/partner. He also works full time but less hours and 10 minutes from home. This makes a huge difference to my working life as I rely on my husband to drop off and pick up both children from childcare most days. We also split responsibilities at home and share bedtimes, cooking and cleaning duties. I also have an amazing mother-in-law and best friend who both step in and help us out a lot.
Employ a great assistant at work! I have worked with the same assistant for five years now and trust her implicitly to do a great job. She knows my recruitment area inside out and can pick up on anything at a moment’s notice. She is also a major support to the office in general and a great sounding board for me. My other team members are also very experienced and solid recruiters, this enables me to take on more of an advisory/mentor role with them rather than day to day management – therefore freeing my time to recruit for the business.
Go to bed early. This may not sound possible to a lot of parents as once the kids are in bed there is dinner to cook, houses to clean, clothes to wash, dry and iron, gardens to tender, cars to clean, family and friends to see/speak with etc… the list could go on. However I find I can conquer anything the day can throw at me as long as I’m NOT tired. Have less than eight hours sleep and things start to get on top of you. See next post on how to get it all done…
8. LET IT GO
We are not Superwomen – even though my girls in the picture are! You have to let certain things go. This is something I have struggled with. At work – there is always one more call to make, I could actually sit at my desk 24/7 and still not do everything I want to achieve, call all the people I need to. You have to know when to cut off. Don’t waste time in your working day, make it as productive as possible and then, when you do cut off, you still feel like you have achieved a lot. This also applies at home – I have had to find a way of cleaning toilets in three minutes, ignoring dust on skirting boards. Letting the ironing pile up and the grass grow outside. My kids are so young I want to enjoy them on a night and weekend without worrying about the neverending housework.
Don’t view being a working mum as a negative. I have been placing Buyers for 12 years and still get huge satisfaction from placing an amazing candidate in a great company or coaching another consultant through a difficult counter-offer situation. I relish the alone time of my commute and going to the toilet alone at work. I actually skipped out of my house at 7 am this morning as it is school holidays and have just spent the last two weeks with both children abroad. And let’s not forgot the monetary side… still working full time means we can afford to have great family weekends at home or away, luxury holidays, spoil the kids if we wanted and continue to improve our home (and of course the weekly shopping trip to Zara… ssshhh).
If it all gets too much – go to M&S at the station on the way home from work. Put the kids to bed, switch on some crap TV (my escape/guilty pleasure) and have a LARGE glass of wine!
If you would like to have an informal discussion, please contact Emma Ramsden here about the roles we are currently working on.