Making it work: balancing motherhood and career

I was hugely daunted about becoming a mother, spending nine months of pregnancy freaking out that as soon as Albert came into the world I would become a frumpy mother with sick on my shoulder and only nappies and bottles on my mind. Though I had always felt maternal and knew lots of happiness lay ahead, I was under the impression that my enthusiasm and drive would fade away and worried that ten years of hard work establishing a career would be lost overnight.

baby-300x240I was however surprised that twenty-four hours after Albert was born I still felt like me and was even keen for an update from my business partner on what I’d missed while I’d been in labour! My priorities have definitely changed, though. Albert and Thomas are my absolute Number One, but I still thrive on my work, probably with even greater drive – wanting to establish a business strong enough to provide our boys with excellent education, holidays and opportunities and a reputation for which my boys will be proud of me.

With a few tweaks to my old routine, I have found that motherhood and career can work – you’ve just got to plan, organize and make the most of every minute. One of my most significant changes is how I use my time – putting tasks and calls off until later or tomorrow is no longer an option – if I have a spare ten minutes I seize the moment, and get it done. As soon as Thomas nods off for his afternoon nap, I make client calls. I’ve also become a master of multi-tasking and I’m always prepared to work in the evenings when the children are in bed or at the weekend when Daddy is around to help.

The wonders of mobile technology make juggling children and work possible. I often send emails from my Blackberry with the children in the background, and I can keep up to speed with everything, even from the playground.

I think there are few jobs which are truly not do-able with children, though some are admittedly more flexible than others and you may want to think laterally about career options. For some, sticking with what they know will be best as a new working mother, but for others, shaping their skills into a new business area may be more attractive. Alternatively, think about using your existing skills for consultancy – freelance work can give you the best of both worlds, with the freedom to work the hours and projects that suit you best. Tap into your old network and see what’s out there; or use vehicles such as Linked In and Facebook to let people know you’re available.

The most important thing is to stay confident and ‘can-do’ – workload is so much easier when you don’t build mental barriers. The stresses of motherhood and time out from working can make you feel detached, but colleagues won’t regard you any differently. If anything, I have found that business colleagues treat me with more respect as I am well and truly an adult in all respects now!