Tuesday, 15 September 2015

This one's for all the working mums

for the working mums

It's no big revelation that working mums find it tough to balance the needs of their families with the needs of their jobs. Dealing with the limitations of childcare and the demands of school, together with wanting to give our best at work, can be an emotional and relentless battle.

None of this is new to working mums and it shouldn't be surprising to employers either.

But bosses, this might surprise you: on the surface, we might look like we're holding it together, but deep down, we worry about the job we're doing at work. All the time. We worry that we're not doing a good enough job. We worry that the sleep deprivation from home has compromised our skills at work. We worry about rumours in the office, about being seen as not pulling our weight. We worry that you want much more from us than we can give.
In fact, one of the hardest things us working mums face is the perceived lack of support from our employers, which gets in the way of us making a positive contribution to our jobs. And it really doesn’t need to be this way. To help you out, here’s a few simple things that you can do for your working mums. Trust us: spend a bit of time on this stuff and you’ll reap the benefits in terms of morale, productivity, and loyalty.

Ask us how we're going
Four little words, that's all it takes to check-in with us: 'How are you coping?', or 'How are the kids?' Yes, we're professional and we know there's work to do.  But do we have to pretend our kids don't exist? Being a mum doesn't stop when we get to work - they tend to linger on our minds. It's called 'RESPONSIBILITY'. Asking us how we're going with it all shows that our circumstances matter to you, and that means everything to us.

Accept our limitations
We've spent hours figuring out what we can give to you work-wise that maintains some sort of balance with the other job we have, the one they call Motherhood. To make both jobs work logistically and emotionally, we've let you know the deal. Whether it's part-time hours or working from home, we've told you what we need to keep those plates spinning. Please don't ask us to stay late for a meeting when you know we've got kids to pick up from day-care. Ditto for those overnight trips or working extra hours from home. Don't highlight our limitations - support them.

Part-time is part-time
While we're on the subject of working extra hours, we're really grateful for the offer of part-time work on our return from maternity leave, which keeps the Holy Grail of work/life balance within our reach. But please don't squeeze the workload of a full-time role into the three days we come to work. Seriously, did you think we wouldn't notice? Feeling like we're not pulling our weight and can't get on top of our work is an unfair and unnecessary burden.

Understand what's involved
Getting up in the morning after a night of torturous, broken sleep is one thing. But getting the kids ready and packed for a day at childcare/school, making ourselves presentable for work and getting to places on time makes for a morning of chaos and stress, no matter how organised we are. For some of us, separating from our child is a new and painful experience, which takes some getting used to. You demonstrating some sensitivity around this stuff will go a long way in helping us get on top of it.

Know that you're getting a great package
Mums returning to work offer a superior and diverse set of skills thanks to the steep learning curve that comes with motherhood.  Consider this: as mums, we deal with demanding, recalcitrant and needy little people all day long. To manage this we need superior skills in communication, time-management and negotiation. So instead of us being a burden to the team, consider that we actually have lots to offer. Oh, and we are desperate for a bit of peace and quiet, so if you're after co-operative diligence, you've got it - we wouldn't want it any other way.

Help us feed our babies
Look, pumping milk isn't our idea of fun. But we sort of have a child to feed, and this doesn't go away just because we're at work. In fact, it might be the only way we feel connected to our baby when we're separated from them. Your support around this means a lot. But please don't ask us to pump milk in the toilet. The lunch-room won't do, either.  No, we're not a hassle - we're pretty freaking amazing, actually. Can you feed your kids with your own body?

Give us feedback
Especially the kind that says we're doing a great job. We need to hear this. Approval from you and knowing you're happy with what we're doing gives us a kick in our step and makes us feel valuable. But hey, if you have concerns, we need to hear that too. If there's better ways to make this work, we're all for it. Just don't let us get wind of them through rumours and bad energy in the office. Be upfront with us, and be honest - we can take it.
Whether we're at work by choice or through necessity, we mums just want to do a good job and feel like our contribution at work is valued. Returning to work after having babies shouldn't make us a burden. In fact, it makes us pretty amazing: amazing for creating little humans in the first place, and even more amazing for wanting to contribute to the workforce as well as raise our babies.

If anything, we should be revered for our choices. But we don't want any fuss. Just a few supportive gestures on your part is all we ask. 

Are you a working mum? How have you found it? Managed to find the illusive work/life balance? Got any horror back-to-work stories? There's a few going round!

* This post was originally published on Kidspot

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