Working with mums and dads is a big part of my work as a career coach. Helping them juggle and enjoy work again is something that I love to do.
I am not a mum. Not yet. But I am working every day with all kinds of mums and dads all over the world to teach them how to enjoy work again and find their work-life balance. It is tough being a parent. Best and hardest job in the world in fact.
Everything changes with parenthood. But I know for a fact that having a good plan for your career can help you be a better parent.
I understand that as a parent you need flexibility, creativity and personalised attention.
In my line of work, it is amazing to discover the patterns that link us all together no matter from what corner of the world we hail from. Still, searching your soul to discover what makes us unique is an exhilarating adventure.
And with this in mind, I invite you to listen to some mums getting real about their career and their life. We all can learn from each other and it really helps to know that you are no are not alone.
So pour a brew and get a glimpse of this powerful mini-community and learn to grad some tips to enjoy work as a parent.
How has your self-concept changed since having a child?
Kalpa, 32, mum of two: I believe I have become a stronger person. More time-efficient in some aspects since becoming a parent, being able to multitask more. I have also accepted that whilst my kids are young I will never be able to go anywhere with clean clothes as they always manage to get me dirty!!
Rakhi, 46, mum of two: I lost some self confidence. I set up my own business and started working from home. It’s difficult as there is no one to really bounce ideas off and no one to give positive feedback.
Rupa, 42, mum of two: I feel that I am more confident now and more aware of the type of person I am. I definitely feel like I’ve grown as a person – maybe become more mature as a result!
Suze, 43, mum of two: It’s changed completely! Before kids I was known for partying hard/work (quite) hard, none of my friends had kids, and motherhood was quite hard to adjust to. I remember thinking that I was NEVER going to be alone again or have any fun.
Anna, 37, mum of two: I think I know myself better. It’s pushed me to question myself and become more sure of what my responses are. I feel as though I’m stronger and more grounded too.
What difference has becoming a parent made to the way you look at your career?
Kalpa, 32, mum of two: I am less career orientated as my priorities lie with my children first. So now the kids come before my career.
Rakhi, 46, mum of two: Although I was never career minded (worked to live), my career has taken more of a back seat than before.
Rupa, 42, mum of two: I feel a bit frustrated because I don’t think I will have the opportunities that once may have been presented to me. But I’ve learnt to accept that I have to work in a different way to accommodate my family life. I still want to carry on working, and learn how to enjoy work again. I don’t mind as much about missing out promotions.
Suze, 43, mum of two: I’m still struggling with this. On the one had I’m still ambitious and I want to work in a senior challenging role, on the other I don’t want to work at all! I think full time in an office five days a week would be impossible with two small children. Now I work three days a week, in a more junior role than I would like, but senior communications roles that are flexible are rare. And, I think when my youngest is in school I’ll go back full time.
Anna, 37, mum of two: It’s become something secondary. It’s on hold until they’re all at school and even then it will be secondary.
What was the biggest shift in your mind/body/behaviour from becoming a parent?
Kalpa, 32, mum of two: Less OCD more relaxed about mess!! I’m more adaptable since kids.
Rakhi, 46, mum of two: I am more motivated to succeed to provide better quality of life to my kids, and I am trying to get more organised.
Rupa, 42, mum of two: As I mentioned above, I have become more mature and self-confident as a result. Body – well it was never a temple anyway! I think behaviour wise, I am a lot more focused (probably due to lack of time) and that hopefully comes through in my behaviours.
Suze, 43, mum of two: Mentally I was like a new person – I didn’t feel like me at all. Body wise it changed beyond all recognition and I guess I use motherhood as an excuse for not being fitter! I’ve definitely become more neurotic since being a parent and more diligent, always having another person to worry about has made me more stressy in general I guess.
Anna, 37, mum of two: I enjoy “me” time more than I ever did before, because it’s so rare! I’m more motivated to create some space to look after my body and my mind.
What does success now look and feel like for you in relation to your work? Or how do you define success in your career now you are a parent? Has this changed in any way?
Kalpa, 32, mum of two: Managing to work 3 days a week gives me a good sense of family life/work balance. Money is not the biggest factor that drives me to work, of course it is important but more is the flexibility of timing around the kids. Success for me now is no longer the highest salary I can achieve but instead the compromised salary around flexible working hours.
Rakhi, 46, mum of two: I am trying to work smarter so not struggling to meet deadlines but still having quality time to spend with the kids.
Suze, 43, mum of two: Success is if I can manage to use my brain while working in marketing/comms capacity. Ideally in a part-time role so that I can still pick up my kids from school, and nursery and spend enough time with them too.
Anna, 37, mum of two: I feel proud if I manage to work effectively at all to be honest! Earning money and using my brain are the motivators, rather than any vaulting ambition. Success is managing to juggle it all and stay happy…Yep. It’s not about the next promotion or the next role. It’s about overall contentment.
What advice would you give new mothers thinking about juggling work and parenthood? What do you wish you had known?
Kalpa, 32, mum of two: It is tough no doubt but plenty of mums need to go back to work after having kids. It depends on many factors, whether you decide to go back part time or full time but I wish I had found a job prior to having kids that supported me coming back to work part time after having kids, making it more easier to juggle work around family life.
Rakhi, 46, mum of two: I started to work from home once I became a parent. I didn’t realise that would mean that you couldn’t really leave your work and switch off. It’s always there so I would sometimes find myself working at 2 am.
Rupa, 42, mum of two: I wish I had known how consuming parenthood can be. And to be able to know that it’s so hard to have both a career and a family – it took me a long time to accept that and now that I have I am a lot more content.
Suze, 43, mum of two: That your kids need so much from you when they are at school, mentally as well as childcare needs. Good support is vital – we don’t have parents nearby to help out and that is tough. Flexibility in your job is worth more than remuneration. More importantly your kids will be ok in childcare and that they won’t miss you nearly as much as you miss them.
Anna, 37, mum of two: It’s more than possible, but be careful of taking on too much and causing yourself and the family stress. I’m aware it’s a luxury to just be “thinking” about juggling rather than just having to juggle…I wish I’d known how much hard work it would be and how much everything changes, but I think it’s just impossible to get that across to someone before they have kids. I’m so glad I waited until I was older to have my first.
What’s the most heroic thing you have done or learned through motherhood?
Kalpa, 32, mum of two: Being able to carry on through sleep deprivation. Being able to tolerate vomit (everywhere and on me!!) as I’m not good at dealing with bad smells.
Rakhi, 46, mum of two: Taking patience to the next level!
Rupa, 42, mum of two: The ability to juggle and multitask and to put my kids needs before mine.
Suze, 43, mum of two: That I am not phased by mountains of poo!!! Or that you can manage to be professional and deliver a presentation with two hours sleep 😁
Anna, 37, mum of two: Utter selflessness, and the ability to be selfish when I need to be.
So, if you feel inspired, or intrigued or just want to hear yourself thinking just answer these questions and you can send it over at firstname.lastname@example.org.