Type “having it all” into google and the first few results include “having it all kinda sucks”, “having it all- and hating it” and “having it all is impossible”. The articles detail the challenges of cooking, cleaning, school and childcare, work and finally looking after the welfare of children, all on five hours sleep. As I start the countdown to Maternity leave I realise very quickly that the pressure that I’ve placed on myself is around wanting to “have it all”.
As more women enjoy their careers and have decided to “live” life, study, travel and have a good careers, giving this up to have children can be a mental struggle (for me anyway). This challenge was not something that work placed on me but I placed on myself.
As I pause (ten days before having my first child), what hits me is women do have more options than ever before. We are following career paths that might begin with a degree or work placements that lead us into very satisfying full-time jobs. Yet in having it all our attention becomes divided. We need help to be able to do everything well, whether that comes in the form of going back to your career with your husband/partner, childcare and balancing all or a combination of all of the above.
Women in management role generally are often seen as having to be harder or even more ruthless to compete with men.
In my experience this is not always the case. I’m lucky enough to work for a flexible and fluid dynamic business that recognises being connected is more important than working in a set place for a set number of hours. Therefore having the right tools and a work-life balance while I’ve been pregnant has allowed me to stay in the work place longer and enabled me to take as much maternity leave after the baby is born as possible. Having our company value statement as “ always connected” became even more important throughout the last nine months. Technology and businesses are being transformed and collaboration tools being at the heart of all sectors. This ethos allowed me to do my job and still be of value to our customers and as well as the business.
I am certain that I will face the challenges that every working mother faces with “the guilt”. Will I effectively balance work and family ? Women should not need to be ruthless to get to the top of their chosen professions. Replace this instead, with focus, drive and good support. My own next big task will involve finding good childcare. I hope to plan as much as possible in order not to let neither my work nor family down.
Thankfully, I know I am not alone and there are many good role models doing the best they can. There are millions of mothers who are successful working parents. I know I will be torn, and finding the right balance is something I will have to work on! I am sure there will be many times when I don’t get it right - the occasion when I don’t have the time to make a costume, and turn to the internet to make the career/life balance work for me, and I would hope my fellow parents won't judge me when I appear at the school gates with shop-bought cakes and not a home-made Mary Berry creation.
As a conscientious employee I want to give 100% to my work and yet in doing that I recognise that there will be a choice for me to give 100% to my child.
In conclusion, the goal should not be to have it all but, instead, do the best we can with the resources available. While I am on maternity leave, technology will change, and so will I. Keeping up to date should allow me to return to work as an effective employee. On reflection, it’s not about giving up on life as I knew it, more accepting change and being flexible.
Having said that, just don’t ask me how am I getting on after I have changed the tenth nappy of the day and not had a chance to eat or get dressed for the day, because the answer may not be so cheery!
Your career can give you options………we can try to have it all, but not always all at the same time!
For more on Onecom's flexible working policies or to talk to one of our sales team call 0203 675 3300.