Karen Keeman gives some rules on how to get through life as a working mum.
My daughter’s first homework assignment for Year 2 was a lovely project that meant that she would have to understand the rules of her classroom. After she read the list of rules, she took her pen (the special sparkly one, obviously) and carefully signed her name to let her teacher know that she understood how to behave.
Some of the rules included: Always be kind to your friends in the playground, make sure you look to see if anyone is sitting on the ‘buddy’ bench, sit quietly on the carpet, listen to the teacher etc etc. These black and white rules got me thinking about how much simpler life would be if all of us working mums had such straightforward rules to follow. Unfortunately for us real life gets in the way so our rules are slightly more complex!
Rule One: Mummy knows best
Of course, mummy knows best, but when mummy is absolutely exhausted, mummy knows that it is time to delegate. Calling in a few favours when you are a working mum is a must. Establishing a network of friends that you can offload your offspring onto from time to time is paramount to keeping stress levels down. But remember, one good turn deserves another so always volunteer to have friends’ children over for tea. Your children will love it and it will mean you don’t feel guilty when you have to ask yet again.
Rule Two: Never ever tell lies
Lying as we all know is wrong, wrong, wrong. Telling a white lie is not always so bad though, is it? Imagine this scenario, it is your day with the children but suddenly an email comes through that you know you have to deal with. If, like me, your day off is charging from school to playgroup then your time is going to be pretty limited. So I find the best course of action is to answer the email, but let them know you are in meetings all day but will deal with their request first thing in the morning (or when you are next working). This, I find, sounds much more professional than the actual truth ie I will be emptying the potty about ten times a day while keeping the children from throttling each other.
Rule Three: Be kind to your friends
Becoming a parent has many benefits. You may be sleep deprived and slightly ratty, but it does give you more patience and understanding than you would have ever had previously. Being considerate of colleagues and expecting consideration back is something that all working parents and non parents should adhere to.
Rule Four: Do your homework
If, like me, at Cinnamon Communications, you have a flexible job, don’t abuse this privileged position. So it may mean working out of hours sometimes, but that is a small price to pay for being able to attend your child’s assembly. Make sure you always communicate to colleagues exactly what you have been up to on your working day and let them know of any handovers that need to be dealt with. Flexible working has to work for all involved so make sure you do your homework properly so your colleagues don’t have to deal with any unfinished business.
Rule Five: Speak up
Whether you work full-time or part-time, being a working mum has its ups and its downs. If something is not working out for you, speak to your boss about it sooner rather than later. Trying to juggle an unhappy work life whilst raising children is not going to be easy and eventually something has to give. So speak up as soon as possible if your situation is not working out for you and come up with a few alternatives. Employers are much more likely to listen if you can give them a solution rather than a problem.
Karen Keeman is a PR at Cinnamon Communications, who specialises in property-focused public relations, marketing and copywriting. www.cinnamoncommunications.com