Lisa McAlinden

Our first split maternity story! I also love how Lisa uses her leadership skills to make sure everyone in her team leaves work on time, a benefit not just for parents and carers.

Lisa McAlinden, Head of Knitwear Design (Currently on MAT leave) and Mum to 2 children 2~1/2 and 11 weeks old.

Tell me about what you do?
I work in the fashion industry for a fast paced supplier to most of the UK high street. I specialise in knitwear managing a small team of talented designers bringing the very latest trends to the masses.

Tell me a bit about your routine?
For our first child we took advantage of split maternity leave so myself and my partner James did 6 months each. As the main breadwinner I had to get back to work ASAP, James made it easy for me to get back into work as I knew our baby wasn’t with a stranger she was being taken care of by her Daddy.
After the year I went down to 4 days, James 3 days and nursery 2 days.
Without James I couldn’t have gone back with the same drive as I had before as in my industry you can be hot property one day then in the firing line the next so you have to keep exceeding at all times. Moving to 4 days really felt like the right balance of work and having quality time although 4 days means often fitting 5 days work into 4 so you have to be super organised.

What is work/life balance to you?
Work is the place where I’m not a Mum. I’m me, I have my own identity and I need it to stay sane. I love working and I’m lucky to do something I’m passionate about getting to be creative on a daily basis the balance comes when I get quality time with my family without being tired from working all week so that extra day makes all the difference.

Are you able to work flexibly?
My job is pretty full on so the 4 days is as flexible as is possible.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I think there is an unfair perception that if someone is a Mum or new Mum they can’t do jobs as well as someone who doesn’t have children. This simply isn’t true working Mums want it all and they can have it. I found I was often more efficient at work on days where I needed to leave on time. Sometimes people stay late because they haven’t been as focused in the working day. I often say to my team that if you can’t achieve what you need to in the working day then there is something wrong. We look at our ways of working often and see how we can be more efficient as working too many hours doesn’t make you fresh for the next day.

In the UK what could society/government/companies do better to help working parents?
Child care support from 1 year old I feel that if I hadn’t gone back to work I would have become irrelevant in the workplace too many mothers are forced to choose staying at home over their career due to cost. So by the time they can go back it’s harder for them to maintain the same level and often they can be overlooked.

Claire Alderdice

You can still #dreambig and be a mother, thanks for the inspiration Claire 🙌

I’m a textile designer and launched my own brand of interior products & accessories in 2015, called Claire ∆lderdice Textiles. Shortly after showcasing my first collection I became pregnant with my first child, 18-month-old Aurelia. As our family is growing (with number 2 on the way), I’ve been growing my business at a slow and steady pace to fit in around raising a young family.

I’m so grateful to be able to work in a way that maintains a healthy work-life balance, and with such limited time in the week to focus on my business I find myself much less of a procrastinator than usual! Whilst running your own business is indeed a full-time affair, and I check my emails and manage orders daily, I spend just 1-2 afternoons a week in the glorious haven of my studio, dreaming up new product ranges, planning and doing any (dreaded) admin!

I’m from N. Ireland, where all my family still live – I miss them heaps so make regular trips back to the homeland. But when back in my adopted home of Bedfordshire my lovely mother-in-law helps to look after Aurelia on the days I need to work. It can sometimes be tricky arranging meetings around childcare, especially as my husband works full time, but often attends business meetings with me – but so far we manage to make it work. In general, however, I can be very flexible as Aurelia is so young.

I have big dreams for the future of my business, which can be frustrating at times when it’s growing so slowly, but then I remember that this special time with my family and serving them will go so quickly, and God-willing, I will be able to accelerate at the right time.

clairealderdice.com

Cleo Lam

Getting back into work after any stretch can be daunting so signing up for a course like Digital Mums combines learning with a community. Meet Cleo, who’s the gel in our peer group! Read Cleo’s story and don’t forget to support her campaign, Once Upon a Book to encourage children to love reading forever!

I had a career as an Art Historian in my twenties, then went into Medical Management. A much longed for child finally arrived & we felt lucky that I was able to be a stay at home parent, as it’s what I’d known myself & always envisaged. I’m a strong believer that a happy mum is a happy child and there is no one ‘best’ option. It was tough at times with a husband who works & travels a lot but I’m glad I did it & as a family it suited us. The challenge of course, now school allows me more time, is not only getting back into the workforce, but doing so flexibly! Balance is now the watchword and I’m very hopeful that this is what a career in Social Media Management thanks to Digital Mums will give me & my family.

Victoria Jobson

I feel so humbled reading Victoria story below she lists so many benefits of being a working parent…

I am a registered mental health nurse.

I work with later life clients on an acute assessment and treatment inpatient ward. In a mental health unit. I work part time 22.5 hours a week.

I realise how precious time is and make my days off count with my toddler son on weekdays when we are off.

I think it is tiring and hard work working then being a mum with all the expectations, however, I also believe that work provides a purpose and an achievement that is good for my well being.

As well as providing financial income it demonstrates and role models to my son that work is important and that teamwork matters. That we all have a purpose and skills we can offer others.

It means that we are as a family not always stressed about being able to afford things and I have the rest of the days I don’t work to have time with my son and husband when he is not at work.

It is important to have time somewhere for myself and even if that’s to do jobs at home etc. We don’t have grandparent childcare support, however, I do now have one day a week whereby I am not at work and my son is in preschool, this is so valuable. Plus to maintain friendships where possible my old friends and newer friends inc mummy friends.

Overall if I’m fed up and ever near to feeling sorry for self .. work always puts my woes into perspective as there are always others in a worse position and I get great reward from working in part of a team and giving to others.

Being mum is my best ever job. However one day my son will no longer need me as much as he does now so I still have my career identity to keep me mentally challenged and stimulated.

Victoria Jobson
RMN
Mother to son 3.5 years

Tiffany Turner

Meet Tiffany, Office/HR Manager for a Norwegian Family Office (Finance). Her account of being a working mother is so sincere, describing “Mum guilt” something so many of us genuinely feel. We Are Working Mums is a campaign to share these very stories and learn from these inspiring women…

I generally leave the house around 7.20a.m. and return home around 7pm.  I take Dexter to school on Mondays and get to the office around 10.30a.m. On the remainder of the week with the exception of Fridays (my day off), Dexter is taken to school by either my mum or Danny, my partner.

I rely a lot on other mum friends at the school for after-school care.  Monday’s Dexter goes to a friend from football training either myself or Danny collect him around 6.30/7pm., Tuesdays Dexter is in after-school club (which I hate, its miserable and he looks miserable – HUGE guilt), Wednesdays my mum collects him, feeds/bathes him and on Thursday I finish work at lunchtime so I collect him.  Friday is our day as I am home.

I have a huge amount of guilt having to rely on others mums, my mum who is brilliant and is a massive support.  It’s a constant juggle to make sure he is cared for, who is picking him up i.e. Danny or I and I worry he doesn’t have a proper routine although this is his routine and he has been used to this as I returned to work when he was 8 months old.

Meal Times – I try to have stuff here for my mum to give him on Wednesdays, usually, this is something she can put into the oven sometimes stuff I may have cooked i.e. spaghetti sauce etc but often it will be shop bought (M&S).  He usually has either an omelette or bagel for breakfast and I try to do this before I leave – luckily he’s an early riser! Weekends I cook from scratch or we eat out.

Weekends are usually for his activities, Friday night football training, Saturday swimming. He also has football training after school on Mondays, all these are paid for clubs.  In between his activities I like to do things with him, cinema, soft play etc. He has bundles of energy so needs to be constantly entertained, if not he’s on his iPad which fills me with more guilt!

I usually take time to study to/from work where possible.  If not in the evenings after I have put Dexter to bed so around 8pm. which is hard, I’m usually knackered.

Generally, I feel I fail on most levels, but he is happy, happier when I’m around but he is happy and eats well and generally anything.  I do have working mums guilt so he is also spoilt but thankfully not horrible with it.

Kelly Mepham

Meet Kelly an inspirational Mum who’s turned her lifestyle into a career that works around her kids #workthatworks

I’m a Personal Trainer and my business is called Kelly Health & Fitness. I switched from working a normal 9-5 office job in Sales and Marketing to being a freelance Personal Trainer to enable me to be a more hands on Mum at the end of the school day.

I wanted to be able to do both school runs and help with homework etc, and then work when it would least impact the children. I work most mornings 6-7am, come home to get the children ready, work when they’re at school, and I then go out again when they’re getting ready for bed. I have a disjointed day but it fits well with the kids.

Fenella Simmons

I like not being somebody’s mum, wife or daughter when I am at work.

Work can play a huge part in maintaining our identity as an individual. Here’s another inspirational story from Fenella…

I work as a family support worker for a large charity. I have 4 children, 17 years to 4.

I manage by knowing that I have a job that is worthwhile and I enjoy.

I like not being somebody’s mum, wife or daughter when I am at work.

I enjoy the different challenges of work which are so different to home life.
The balance for me is working three days. I have no cleaner or gardener and my days not working are spent cleaning cooking washing shopping. The time is only 9:15 to 2:45 in a school day so time feels short sometimes.

My husband works nearer the schools so he does the childcare run which is handy as he leaves work earlier on my work days.

The juggle is childcare and I don’t always think the balance is right. My mother helps take my youngest to school and another goes to club at school and we use a childminder.

This can get messy as it is different each working day. School can just cancel a club due to bad weather or the teacher is off sick and I am left trying to sort something from work. My dear mother normally helps out if she can but it can be stressful, as can sick children. My older two are easy now and look after themselves to a certain degree and due to being an older mum I know how short these years are and to make the most of family life.