I am really passionate about being a Working Mum. Not surprising really when it's how I spend 40 hours a week. So here it is, my take on why having kids really is great for your career;
Having kids has accelerated my career.
Yup that's right. Apart from being my greatest ever achievement, my boys have also done wonders for my work.
I am fortunate in that being an advertising creative is definitely the job for me.
When I landed my first permanent role with my creative partner aged 23 it felt like I'd won the lottery. Being paid to come up with ideas and write scripts and go to shoots. Fun people. A free bar once a week. It was a dream come true.
- Cut to 6 years later. I'm pregnant and waddling out of the agency into my first maternity leave, absolutely convinced that I would pop a baby out and that my life, and consequently my career, would continue as before.
- Of course, I was wrong for the most part. Bertie's arrival turned our life upside down.
- Nine months later I was back in the office. Working a 4 day week and trying to convince myself things were going great.
- They weren't. I was surviving; doing an OK job at Motherhood and an OK job as a creative. Doing OK isn't good enough for me.
- And neither was being judged as 'another Mum' who left at 5.
- I wasn't happy. But I had a plan. I'd have another baby. A fairly drastic approach and not one I'd advise.
Off I went on maternity leave number 2. That's when everything changed. I had an epic birth. I started the blog. I met some amazing women.
All this reframed how I saw Motherhood. When I went back to work the second time I wore it like a badge of honour.
Motherhood gave me perspective. It gave me epic organisations skills. It gave me confidence. Why? Because I'D PUSHED TWO HUMANS OUT OF MY FANNY.
I couldn't leave the job I was in (we were in financial shit and I was contracted for a year to repay my maternity contract). So I may as well find a way to make it work.
Time to make my career fit with my life. Rather than just working to live. How? No one big action, but lots of powerful ones.
Walking out proudly at 5.15 rather than skulking out. Delete the sorry's from emails, choosing to be a present parent rather than attend yet another late meeting is not a cop out.
Playing the trump card... suggest an 8.30 am meeting instead! I bloody love a breakfast meeting.
What have I learnt?
The cliche about babies damaging your earnings. I found it to be 100% true. I complained about. I got angry about it. I beat myself up about it. I cried. A lot. And then eventually I did what I should have done sooner.
I got a new job. And when I was interviewing I researched my market value so when it came to salary negotiations I was informed. I used the simple but powerful words "I want to be paid what I’m worth."
When you find an employer who will pay you properly and respect your work life balance. Well, then you have to grab it both hands.
But the responsibility isn't just theirs. Women are notoriously bad at talking about financial stuff. To make a change we have to face the fear, we have to have those uncomfortable conversations.
What else? Flexible working.
Flexible working isn't about trying to wheedle out of work, it doesn't mean that you care less about you career. It's about work that works for a certain point in your life.
Since the boys, I've had many work patterns: four-day week, five days with a day from home (I tried Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Friday definitely works best FYI).
I am full time again. Not because I had to. I wanted to. Because the timing was right for me because we need the money and because right now I want to give my career everything I've got.
Working feels good. It makes me feel more like me. It fulfils me in so many ways, which in turn makes me a better Mother.
It doesn't mean it doesn't break my heart every time my kids ask 'how many sleeps till Mummy Day?'
The payoff is they have me 110% when I am with them.
But my one piece of advice would be don't quit work while on your first maternity leave. Try going back for a bit. Hormones and the baby bubble can do things to your confidence and headspace.
Better to give it a go. Try and make it work and then make an informative decision about the other options rather than never knowing whether there could have a been a solution.
4 years as a Working Mum and I have fire in my belly. People often talk about the Male urge to provide for their family. I feel that and then some.
I feel that desire to 'bring home the metaphorical bacon' when cuddling them in the dark before bed.
I also feel it when I am anxious before a big presentation. To settle my nerves I picture their gorgeous faces and think to myself: MAKE THOSE DUDES PROUD. BE THE PERSON THEY BELIEVE YOU ARE.
And you know what? Since having them, I do genuinely believe I can do anything at work and at home. It ain't easy. Often it's very hard. But just because it's difficult and challenging, doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
Check out Clemmie's awesome Mother of all Lists blog here.
Photo credits: Maria Torrens Photography