Jess Nelson

All the working mum stories we’ve shared so far have told us about the benefits of returning to work from financial gains, keeping your career on track and knowing your self-worth but none have spoken about how work can tackle loneliness. I think most mothers and carers, especially those on maternity leave would relate to not having adult company for most of the day. Meet Jess, who as a single mum has overcome personal challenges and has nailed flexible working. This is her story…

Jess Nelson, Owner of Maggie J Jewellers and Mother to a 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Tell me about what you do?
I own and manage a jewellery shop and have to be involved in every aspect of the business such as tasks like choosing the jewellery for window displays.

Tell me a bit about your routine?
School/nursery run
Open shop
Serve my lovely customers
School/nursery run
Back to shop
Close shop
Home

Luckily as it’s my own business I am able to bring the kids into work with me. They’ve been coming to the shop with me since they were babies (I even had to breastfeed & change nappies in the back of the shop- the glamour of the working mum!)

What is work/life balance to you?
I feel I have a good work/life balance. It’s the main benefit of running my own business.

Are you able to work flexibly?
Most definitely, I currently work 2 full days and 3 half days. I am able to get cover when I need it from my mum (who co-owns the shop with me) and our part-time lady fills in too.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
For a long while, I was a single mum too. This was the biggest challenge of all, but the ability to work and distract myself was such a help. Only having kids to go home to every evening & wake up with every morning (and during the night) was so hard, so I really appreciated the adult company on the days I worked. The downside was the overwhelming pressure to be the breadwinner and be emotionally stable for the kids & the business was very challenging. I am now in a happy & healthy relationship and running my own retail business, raising two kids, and still being me…it’s just one big juggling act in the circus that is life but the most rewarding!

I think that’s the best way to describe being a working mum!

In the UK what could society/government do better to help working parents?
Due to financial strains, it is essential as I’m sure it is for most mums, that I go back to work. Although this is empowering, ‘Mum guilt’ still plays on my mind. This has got easier as the kids have been at school & nursery more, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the government funding of 15hr free child care. Although there is more that can be done without this I would have struggled to afford a good work/life balance.

 

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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.

Emma Kenny

A massive congratulations to Emma Kenny for being awarded Fellow status by the FHT for exceptional experience in her field! 🙌 #thisissuccess

Self-employment does offer flexibility with childcare but you can face financial perils…

I have been a self-employed Aromatherapist since 2004 and a parent to one daughter since 2013. Self-employment is considered by some to be an ideal situation for a working mum but sometimes I wonder if I am ever truly present in either role.

As the mother, if my daughter is unwell her care falls to me and I lose money – no sick pay or holiday pay options – and finding any kind of work/life balance remains the holy grail!

emmakennytherapies.com

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

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.