How do you combine a career and a family? Both are quite demanding and I don’t have the answer but I can tell you how I’ve done it and hopefully provide a little inspiration too! I am a mum of 2 beautiful children (age 3 and 5); I have a husband (who works long hours) and I run my own business. I also have a house (midway through an extension), an allotment (somewhat overgrown – don’t tell the committee) and I try and fit in a social life! My life is quite busy – would I have it any other way? No! Is it a struggle to fit everything in? Yes! Is it a juggling act? Very much so!
Combining a career and a family can be hard – what do you do in the school holidays or when the children are unwell? You don’t want to miss their class assembly and you want to drop them off in the morning. How do you find the right balance? There is certainly no easy answer but I do understand how you feel. Everyone who is combining career and family faces similar challenges, and I am certainly not going to claim to have the solution to the perfect combination of career and family life, instead I am going to share the decisions that I have made.
Heading into work in as a parent, I’m sure there are so many people who can relate to feeling like you have done a full day’s work before you get there. Sleep deprived, the children didn’t want you to leave them, you have their breakfast or toothpaste on your clothes, you missed your train, worried you’re going to be late for a meeting – it’s stressful! Been there, done that and vowed no more. So what have I given up to get the balance right for me and my family – money. Do I miss it? Sometimes! I don’t get my nails done anymore, we spend our holidays in a tent and I buy new clothes for the children rather than myself! But I can’t complain and I believe that life is a journey, as long as you are honest with yourself, you will make the choices that are right for you.
I made the decision not to return to full-time work after having children, for me it wasn’t really a decision. I never had any intention of working full-time after I had children. Taking a large salary reduction didn’t even feature in my decision, I made adjustments to ensure we would survive financially. 10 years working in a commission based recruitment role was tough when I was young, free and single – as a Mum I lacked the motivation and commitment to rise to the challenge so I knew it was time for a change! Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job in recruitment – success, money, responsibility, I had it all. Do I miss it though? No! It was great while it lasted but I was ready to move onto the next phase of my life – ‘the wife, mummy and me phase’ with a career to compliment it.
I’m certainly not alone. More and more employees are seeking to actively pursue their careers and develop professionally without compromising their family lives and I do believe that a lot of companies support this – flexible working policies etc. I don’t think there is a perfect solution, there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. I knew I wanted to be with the children as much as possible but I also knew I wanted a job, a career even, is that possible part-time? Yes I think it is, but I don’t think it’s easy. 2 years after going back to work after having my second child, I set my own business up – freedom? Yes to some extent, but do I ever switch off? Not really! My husband works full-time and I say I work part-time; I work flexibly – early mornings and late evenings. I feel very fortunate that I am able to work in this way. I also have a very supportive family that live locally and friends who help out too, we all help each other. My husband would love to get home earlier in the evening to see the children, to pick them up from school – in an ideal world if money was no object would we all work 9.30am – 2.30pm? Who knows, probably not but anyway this is real life and it’s what you make it! I can’t really talk for anyone else but we have 2 happy children and we are happy with the work/life balance choices we have made for our family. This blog is timely for me as my youngest starts school in September so I will then enter another phase of my working life. No conclusion to this post as I mentioned at the beginning, it’s a juggling act but you’re not alone and there are many others in the same boat. I proudly say I am a mum and I have a successful career, I work very hard to achieve it, harder than I did before I had children? Just differently.