Amy McDermott

image1 (1)Meet Amy, Head of Sales and Mum to a 17-month-old son. Her honest account describes the challenge of balancing motherhood with a full-time career.  This working mum discusses being realistic in self-expectations and the importance of retaining elements of life before motherhood.

Tell me about what you do?
I head up a sales team in a publishing environment. It’s full on, but I love it and love the people I work with!

Tell me a bit about your routine?
I work full time (5 days a week, 8 hours a day) and so does my husband. He does nursery drop offs and I do collections). My son goes to nursery three days a week and my mother in law has him for the other two days.

What is work/life balance to you?
This is the struggle! Life balance meant going out most of the weekend eating and drinking and lying on the sofa. Life now is hanging out with my son and my husband and I taking turns on going out!

Are you able to work flexibly?
Not really. I have changed my hours to 8.30am – 4.30pm meaning I can pick my son up. I’m sure my work would accommodate me in emergencies as I have been with the business for 15 years.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
When my son was 9 months old I had this overwhelming urge to go back to work. I felt so guilty for wanting to get back to work with 3 months of maternity leave left. Once at work after the 12 months off I felt guilty for enjoying being away from him. At weekends you need time for you, but that comes with guilt too! I should be spending the 48 hours I have off work with him… but it’s simply not realistic for us to not have some time out. So I guess my advice is to go easy on yourself it’s okay to still have and enjoy elements of your baby free life!

In the UK what could society/government do better to help working parents?
Make sure laws support part-time/flexible work options

Janice Davey

This is my sister and everyday inspiration! Growing up, Janice had so much passion, focus and determination for learning, something she shares with her daughters, colleagues and customers. Her no-nonsense attitude has helped to break down barriers in a male-dominated industry.  As a champion of WeAreWorkingMums here is her story…

Janice Davey, Program Manager at PerkinElmer and Mum to 2 children aged 4 & 2.

Tell me about what you do?
Large scale project management for providing Scientific Services and Asset management to the Pharmaceutical and Academic industry

Tell me a bit about your routine?
I work mostly from home but I can also spend quite a bit of time travelling as my customer base is the whole of Europe. I wouldn’t be able to do this job without the support of my husband who is self-employed and works from home. I supposedly work part time of 4 days a week but in reality, as most part-timers know you squeeze 5 days of work into that. I do however make sure that my Friday off is mine and everyone I work with knows and understands that. I try to make sure that my time off is spent building memories and having quality 1-1 time with the girls.

Once the camping season starts we try to get away from everything as much as possible. I love camping with the kids, no tv, phones etc.

It does sometimes feel as though you have zero downtime as you go from work to kids to work again. I don’t really have a routine but I do prepare, so school bags are packed the night before, washing is done whenever I get 5mins. I also get the kids involved in shopping and cooking.

What is work/life balance to you?
Watching my kids grow and be in their lives whilst succeeding and performing at work in order to live comfortably and hopefully be an inspiration to them.

Are you able to work flexibly?
Yes, having an understanding boss is very much required.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
More employers need to realise that working mums can provide as much input to a company as anybody and provide the flexibility in order to do that.

In the UK what could society/government/companies do better to help working parents?
The 30 hours “free” should be split out from an earlier age. If they want to get parents back into the workforce, providing free childcare should be from once maternity finishes. Spending the majority of your wage for someone else to look after your child creates terrible stresses on families.

Yvonne Boateng

I had the pleasure of working with Yvonne before I left LinkedIn and its great to hear they are champions of flexibleworking!

Yvonne Boateng, Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn and Mum to a 17 month old son.

Tell me about what you do?
I partner with clients to plan and deliver successful digital campaigns.

Tell me a bit about your routine?
It can be quite tough sometimes. I wake up before my 17 month old son, get ready for work, and by which time, my son is awake. I drop off my son and make my way to work. I then also pick up my son at the end of the day. My husband is currently studying for his CIMA qualification, which means he wakes up early to get a study session in, and also has study classes some evenings. Whenever I need to get into work early or stay back late, my husband does the rounds.

What is work/life balance to you?
I haven’t quite figured it out and it’s still sometimes a challenge. My role has changed at work, it’s almost like a new job, so I find myself doing some extra work after the baby goes to bed.

Are you able to work flexibly?
Yes, anytime I need to.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m still searching for the secret to great work/life balance so any tips and tricks are welcome!

In the UK what could society/government/companies do better to help working parents?
In an ideal world, we would have a 3 day weekend! I’d like to see a travel card discount for working parents who need to travel into work. Just something to help relief parents.

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.

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
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.