My career decisions have been made based on the needs of my children, but I don’t hold that against them in any way. It’s for me as much as for them. They aren’t little for long and it’s such a precious time. However, I do struggle with constantly feeling guilty about doing the best for my children and my job. I want to be the best mum and employee I can be.
In 2017 the Office of National Statistics found almost three-quarters of mothers with young children were in full or part-time work, a big increase from 20 years ago. For this week’s article we are chatting to Amanda, a working mum and getting her view on what life is like balancing a career and a young family.
Amanda works four days a week, as a creative producer, for a corporate production company. Her role involves taking briefs from clients and helping turn these into engaging videos, from TV ad’s to homepage videos, all the way to VR experiences! She lives with her husband Richard and has two children, Martha, 9, and Oscar, 6.
Here she talks about what she finds the biggest challenge, the best advice she’s received and gives her tips for other working mums.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your career over the years
I started as a runner making tea for a TV broadcaster in London, which I loved. Then an opportunity came up to be a promo producer and make TV promos. After a while, I moved to a creative agency in Soho, before working for NBCUniversal, where I was a Senior Creative for a few years. I then took maternity leave to have my children. When I was ready, I went back to working in London but found it really hard. I wanted to still be in the TV industry, but to be closer to my children. So three years ago, I moved to my current job that’s a lot closer to home.
Q. What’s your daily routine as a working mum?
06:00 – I wake up early to make sure everything is ready and prepared for the kids school day.
07:00 – The kids get up, I make them breakfast, get them dressed, finish packed lunches, all whilst I’m still trying to get myself ready.
*I’m always very aware of time and it can be quite stressful in the mornings. It’s not usually the most relaxing time!*
07:30 – Richard will mostly do the kids school drop off, but I love to do it when I can.
08:00 – I hit the road with a coffee in hand, to get to work for 09:00!
*By the time I get to work I’m already a little tired after a busy morning of getting other little people ready! It can sometimes be hard to switch focus and get settled in for the next part of my day. But I do enjoy having my two different worlds and I like working.*
17:30 – My day finishes and I head home.
18.15 – Richard or I will pick up the children from our childminder.
18:30 – I start thinking about what the children need to do that night and for the next day.
*They have to read every night and write it in their school diaries, Martha has spelling tests every week and maths homework. They have clubs too, so there’s a lot to keep on top of as well as the daily parent-mail! In the evenings I want to have time with the children that doesn’t involve nagging them to do their homework or get ready ready for bed. I want more quality time, and time to catch-up with my husband, as I’ve not seen him all day. I would also love to find more time to finish my children’s book project one day! *
19:30 – We quickly eat our dinner. Richard is great and cooks most evenings, so I am very lucky!
20:00 – The kids go upstairs for bed, but it’s normally a good hour before they settle.
21:00 – I finally get to sit down, which is when I start to think about my work day tomorrow. Richard and I will also try to watch something on TV together.
21:30 – By this time, I’m asleep on the sofa because I’m so exhausted!
Q. What do you love about being a mum?
Gosh! So many things. I really love the cuddles! From the minute they are born, it opens up a whole new world to you. Seeing this little person grow up in front of your eyes is amazing. They are these mini replicas of you and your husband and their love for you is unconditional. They change you in so many ways. They see you as their whole world, and it’s just the best feeling. All I want is to make them happy and give them experiences that broaden their world, so it’s really important to Richard and I that we explore new places and have fun with our kids.
Q. Do you feel like you have to choose between your career and bringing up your children?
I do yes. I loved my job in London, cutting trailers, but I quit because I wanted to be closer to my children. I’m lucky that my current job means I can still be in the creative industry and close to my children, but I know that’s not always easy and lots of people aren’t so lucky to find that. My career decisions have been made based on the needs of my children, but I don’t hold that against them in any way. It’s for me as much as for them. They aren’t little for long and it’s such a precious time. However, I do struggle with constantly feeling guilty about doing the best for my children and my job. I want to be the best mum and producer I can be.
Q. What has been the most significant resource in balancing a career and being a mum?
There are few different things that have helped. Having a close network of friends who understand you and who are going through the same stages of life can really help. They understand how you feel, your challenges and are great if you just want a moan. Also, having an employer who is flexible is invaluable. It’s great that companies are being more and more open to flexible working and understanding the needs of family. I really appreciate that a lot. I’m also very lucky to have a husband who is equally hands-on with the children. It’s a partnership and teamwork. My parents are amazing too and help with childcare during the holidays.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge in running a career whilst having a family?
I think reaching my own goals has been a challenge. When I came back from maternity leave I was determined to do really well and advance my career. I really went for it and I felt I had my mojo back when I won some awards. It was really nice to be reaching my own goals again. But it’s a huge challenge doing all of that without feeling you’re neglecting your family at home. It’s this constant battle between trying to do the best you can in your job and at home, because you have set these expectations for yourself.
Q. Is self-care part of your weekly routine?
I think self-care is really important but I’m probably not as good at it as I should be! I do go to the gym on a Friday morning, which really helps with my positive outlook on life and it’s a bit of ‘me’ time. I also love to do the park run at weekends, when I can.
Q. What are your top tips for other working mums?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as ‘supermum’. As working mums, we are pulled in so many different directions, will always have an endless to-do list and are constantly multi-tasking, but it’s all about not putting too much pressure on yourself. The tasks will never all be done, so it’s really important that you don’t work long hours trying to finish them. Life is short and you should enjoy it. Also, if you can, find something that you love doing for you. For me that’s exercise (and having a glass of wine with friends). If you’re happy, then you can spread that amongst your family, friends and children.
Q. What is one thing you think you still need in your life to help with the balance?
I’d love a cleaner but we can’t justify one. I work 4 days a week. My day off, on a Friday, is really important and special to me. I have one hour where I do something for me, normally it’s going to the gym or sometimes a quick coffee with a friend. Then the rest of the day is spent cleaning, washing and getting on top of housework, so I can spend quality time with my husband and children at the weekend.
Q. What do you think about the support given to working mums, from society?
I think support has got better in recent years. Flexi and part time work is so much more acceptable now for working mums than when I first began my career. But I have certainly had past experiences where being a working mum has felt like a disadvantage in trying to climb the career ladder.
Q. What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?
I’m really close to my mum and she has always said ‘go with your gut’, which I think is a really important piece of advice, particularly when you have children. You know your children best, so it’s all about trusting your own judgement.
Q. Name a women you admire?
I really admire my nan. She’s almost 93 and has lived through a lot. She’s amazing and is a huge inspiration to me, because of how strong she is. She’s also just a really lovely person to sit and chat with. My nan is actually still a working mum, one day a week she still works at her local children’s charity shop!