Monthly Archives: February 2012

Was it Worth it?

Posted on February 27, 2012 by Muminthecity | Comments (21)

I’ve just come back from a week's holiday from work. Despite advising all and sundry of my few day's absence, spending lots of time to prepare for my absence and leaving meticulous notes for my "cover", I still came back to a mountain of emails, meetings and work requests.

By Monday lunchtime I was just about raising my head above the parapet, when I was landed with prep for an important Board meeting mid-week and down the ladder I went to sit firmly in Square One again!

I found myself wondering if my few days away from the office were really worth all the pain and suffering (slight exaggeration) I was now experiencing and wondered was there anything else I could have done to prepare for my absence.

I'm going away for 3 weeks in April and quite frankly am dreading to what I'll come back to...

Is this the price I have to pay for having half term off to spend quality time with my son? I'm wondering how other cope and what your experiences are. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!

MumintheCity_ (Feb-12)

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Posted in Juggle mummy!, Mummy and working

Why are we wasting such an incredible talent pool?

Posted on February 9, 2012 by allmumkind | Comments (0)

The struggle for mothers to secure decent flexible jobs is prominently placed across the newspaper’s today and has been discussed on several prime time TV shows. And rightly so. There needs to be more of it!

It is quite clear that employers need more encouragement to look outside of the “full time” v’s “part time” work scenario. Many companies are embracing this issue and are promoting flexible work policies, but so much more needs to be done.

The reports today look at various research carried out and it is shocking to see how many women represented poor part-time opportunities. Many of the women questioned felt that their career stalled as soon as they became mums.

The problem is so many women who previously held down skilled/experienced jobs want to work. The positions on offer do not always accommodate the same or similar level of skill away from full time hours, meaning that part time jobs are the only option. Unfortunately, many companies offer a part time job which requires less skills. This is where the frustration lies with the lack of quality of the roles.

A massive talent pool of women is available to employers. Loyal, hard working, professional and committed women looking to utilise their skills and experience but flexibly. Netmums highlights this by saying employers are “wasting an incredible talent pool”. The co-founder of the website, Sally Russell goes on to say “It’s unbelievable that women are encouraged to climb the career ladder only to be forced back to the lowest rung when they have children”.

The crippling cost of childcare is one of the biggest barriers to most women returning to skilled work. In the UK it is estimated that parents spend one third of net household incomes on childcare. This is one of the highest costs for childcare in Europe. This is outrageous considering the state of the economy and many families are struggling financially.

Posted in News

Is Your Company Bendy?

Posted on February 8, 2012 by Muminthecity | Comments (0)

The recent spate of bad weather reminded me of how lucky I am to work for an organisation which promotes flexible working.

But what does flexible working mean to you? I work ‘full time’ ie 40 hours (and the rest!) per week, so for me it’s working around a core set of hours which are both beneficial to me and for my company.  In practice this means that I can usually drop my child off in the mornings at school, and on occasion, do the pick up.  As long as I put the hours in, no-one minds.

My company also offers the ability to work from home.  This is great as I don’t have to take a precious day’s holiday to wait in for the gas man, deliveries, etc and I can work without constant interruptions from passing colleagues.  As I write there is a commotion going on around the coffee machine which is quite frankly, very distracting!  So the ‘facility’ to work from home on occasion is invaluable to me.

However before you can effectively work from home you have to do a bit of preparation.  The practicalities of working from home are resolved by logging into a virtual private network (set up by my company beforehand) and relying my mobile phone.  It’s as good as, if not better, than being in the office; I have access to 99% of the systems I would use in the office and I can drink coffee that doesn’t taste like ground tar, which has got to be a major plus in anyone’s book!

So how frequently do I work from home?  Well, apart from working at home for when it suits my personal life (deliveries, being on hand for child-related issues, and having to be home to get ready for that important night out etc) I opt do this from time to time mostly in order to undertake parts of my job that require peace and quiet, and total concentration.  I find that my working from home days are often the most productive in terms of getting the best value from me.  There are no distractions to talk of (the TV and radio stay firmly switched off!)  As long as the job gets done, my boss is happy.  I like to show my face in the offices I work in each week so they don’t forget who I am, and my desk doesn’t get farmed out to every passing peripatetic colleague and claimed as their own!  As with life, it’s all a matter of balance.

I also set myself a few ground rules;

get dressed… slobbing around in PJ’s all day is not going to put me in the right frame of mind for writing that business critical report.  Compartmentalising the different parts of my life really does have a psychological effect I find, and the more the lines of them are blurred into one mad disorganised mess, the less effective I am going to be.

do not turn on the TV or radio… as tempting as watching Phil and Holly discuss the merits of the A-line versus the pencil skirt are, once you get sucked into being easily distracted, that “ten minute break” you promised yourself, quickly turns into an hour, as Gino lures you into how best to make a fat-free, low-cal, chocolate cake…..

prepare for working at home… Before you leave the office, forward your office desk phone to your mobile, or leave a message indicating that you’re working at home and leave the number you can be contacted on.  Be accessible otherwise people will just think you’re skiving!

Try to mirror your office set up as much as you can… I may be sat at the kitchen table, but I try to ensure I have my laptop, phone, necessary paperwork/files/memory stick, stationery and other officey-type accoutrements to hand otherwise I’ll get bogged down in the minutiae of not having them and consequently be really miffed myself for not having them.

As a result of this flexibility, being mindful of business Vs personal objectives, and a few simple ground rules, I’m likely to be more productive and less stressy because I’m working in a way which gets the best out of me.  Compromises are few, pennies are saved in the lack of commuting, and work production is high.  What’s not to love!?

MumintheCity_ (Feb-12)

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Posted in Flexible working

Guilty as charged?

Posted on February 1, 2012 by allmumkind | Comments (1)

About a year ago I wrote about how I was nervous I was, about starting a “proper” job post maternity leave.  I’d worked on a couple of six month office contracts prior to that, which were very helpful in easing me back into the “professional working mentality” after a few years of getting used to having a little person be so dependent on me.
My first day in my current role was a huge leap of faith for me, and extremely stressful, so much so that I questioned the validity of my decision to go back to work full-time.  Mummy-guilt abound; I was seriously considering packing in all in after the first day, to stay at home and ‘be there’ for my child, who, co-incidentally would be at school all day!  Go figure…
I won’t lull you into a false sense of security by claiming it was all plain sailing!  On top of  dealing with home issues, mummy-guilt, a new way of life and routines, I had a new boss and colleagues to impress.  At work I was my own person, and had to present myself as such.  I tried to keep childcare issues to a minimum, and present myself as professionally as possible.
After the first month or so, my self-induced guilt was started to wane.  It turns out that it was just like riding a bike…  On the child front, the new routine was working out terrifically once I’d given myself a break, and realised that when help is offered to grab it with both hands!
I took advantage of the school Breakfast Club which allows early drop-offs, enabling me to get to my “London days” at a reasonable time when my hubby couldn’t do the morning drop-off.  We were also lucky enough to get a great childcare provision in place for after school which suited all parties, but most importantly of all, my child was happy.   Once we’d set ourselves a few ground rules which everyone was OK with, we soon slipped into a workable routine. I would urge anyone thinking about making that big leap back into work after Maternity Leave to go with your gut instinct.  In my case (and I would suggest the majority of others), your children’s welfare and happiness is the primary decision.  After that, my advise would be don’t beat yourself up, and go for it!
Mary Freemantle (Feb-12) May not be reproduced without prior approval from the author

Posted in Back to work mummy