How did you achieve what you have now as a working mum
I remember the day I went on Maternity leave. I was working as a Business Advisor for a large Pharmaceutical company and I was really fearful that I was going to miss the mental stimulation of a corporate job. Fast forward 5 years and I loved every minute I spent with my 2 children, however, it was time to start to dip my toe back into the water.
My first trial at a Business of my own was a natural progression of Motherhood. I felt the need to write and publish a children’s book to assist parents to ditch their child’s dummies. “Daniel and the Dummy Fairy” has now sold over 1000 copies and gave me a taste of the purpose I was missing being a full-time Mum. I enjoyed the challenge so much that once my youngest child started School I jumped in and launched the Little Kids Business Online Marketplace hoping to make a splash.
There was never any consideration of returning to my previous Corporate life. My kids are incredibly important to me and the flexibility of being my own boss offers me many opportunities to forge a beautiful and very close relationship with both Daniel and Sophie. It’s important to them that I attend their School Concerts and sporting events and it’s important to me to be able to have the flexibility to say “yes I can come” even if I am that loud embarrassing Mum on the sidelines.
Though not compulsory, many of our 110 Kids Brands are also run by Mothers. I feel so proud to stand alongside them and though it’s head down for my staff and me during school hours, and most evenings are also spent on my laptop. I love that I have created a Marketplace which allows Brands to be found collectively and that I am a wonderful example of a working Mother to my children.
What tips you can give/ what you’ve learned through your business
With 12 years experience as a Business Advisor, working for Brands including P&O, Princess, Cunard Cruiselines and Alphapharm Pharmaceuticals, it seemed inevitable that one day I would launch a business of my own.
If you are planning on launching a business my top tip is to test. This is possibly the most powerful thing you can do. Test your idea, test your product and test your market.
We all have family and friends, however, I was concerned that their loving opinion might be biased. For this reason, I chose to complete a Queensland Government mentoring program before I launched the Little Kids Business Marketplace. I did this because it was important to me to be sure that my idea was sound and that business people I admire could also see my vision.
Once you have a sound idea, now you must test if people think your product is worthy. If this means sending some free samples to a test market to gain feedback, this is time. It is important to remember that you asked for this feedback and that it is essential that you are open to both positive and negative comments.
In order to test if you have a market, I also suggest that you create social media pages and grow them well before your launch. You can share Pinterest pictures to start with to ensure that you gather your audience in advance of your launch.
Launching a product and a Business is challenging. There are things that you might wish that you did differently, however, I suggest that you don’t wait until things are perfect. We always start at the beginning and make changes as time passes. If you don’t give it a go now, then when?
What works for me to manage to be a working Mum?
1. Scheduling everything! Home, work, school otherwise I forget.
2. Use work time for work, and home time for home. Setting boundaries are important otherwise the urge to “just get one more thing done” on my home time is hard.
3. Being upfront and honest about my life – I use to hide that I was a Mum as I felt it impacted my career. I had two horrible experiences coming back from maternity leave so I thought being a Mum would limit my options. Now I am honest as people understand me better, and becoming Partner shows that it doesn’t limit you-you just need to find the right supportive workplace!
4. Don’t try to be all things to all people – know and accept your limitations.
5. Plan and use shortcuts – meal planning and click and collect shopping has been a saviour! No juggling kids in the supermarket, no rushing last minute to get meals together. Planning is key.
6. Be kind to yourself- Usually, I find, the biggest critics of working mums are ourselves. We burn the candle at both ends and try to do as much as others who don’t have children. It’s unfair to set yourself up to fail. And if you do “fail” it’s unfair to beat yourself up about it. Learn about what you could have done to make it easier/better/less stressful for yourself and do that next time.
Caroline, Founder of Organise.Curate.Design. is the Life Assistant you never knew you needed.
She is known for her ability to meet her client’s expectations whilst managing a large deployment of staff and working closely with key stakeholders.
Using these skills Caroline launched Organise.Curate.Design. in July 2017 to assist clients to find work-life balance in and gain control of their to-do list whilst focusing on their self-care. Caroline does this by managing their life admin and coaching them as their Life Assistant all whilst raising her two boys who are 6 and 14 years old.
What are some of the struggles you experienced as a working mum?
In society, there can be an unrealistic expectation to work like we don’t have children and raise our children like we don’t work. I admit that I’ve had that struggle. Wanting to be everything to everyone and trying to please the masses has meant that I’ve come up short in both areas which have led me to be frustrated in both areas of my life.
Through your business, what are the common themes she sees working mums experience, how do you overcome them?
It’s the overwhelming ‘I should’ that cripples working Mothers. I should be home more, but I should spend more time with my team at work. I should volunteer more at my child’s school, but I should apply for that promotion to develop my career. I should cook more organic meals but I should spend more time on my professional development.
Women create this list of shoulds and that list can become a mountain of mental load. Our role is to help them reduce this list and start curating their mental space to remove pre-conceptions that no longer serve them to create a more organised in control life.
Have you ever experienced Mum Guilt? If so how did you tackle it?
Yes! Many times, especially when I was working full time, trying to be everything to everyone. I usually tackled it by talking to my children and demystifying my perception of what I thought they wanted versus their actual needs. Talking to my children and asking them how they are feeling and what they need has helped me make clearer decisions that serve me in my career and as a mother to realistically meet all of our expectations.
As a working mum yourself. what do you admire and appreciate in other working mums?
The sheer capacity to get things done! Mum’s have an incredible way of just being able to manage more than their fair share of the load. I feel a great sense of pride to be a mother and to be part of the community of mothers out there.
Celebrating working mothers
When many of us were young, we saw our mothers stay at home or if they worked, it was mostly basic labour: cooking, cleaning, customer service. Whilst a few mothers had careers, most had jobs. We are the first generation to make a switch to the majority of mothers having careers and families simultaneously.
And this is no small feat.
Latest Australian research tells us 31% of women and 50% of men, feel that women and men are treated equally in the workplace. And 81% of women and 76% of men said having a partner who shares responsibility with them for childcare and household domestic work was important.
When a mother goes to work, she wants to know her career is not going to cost her child a good upbringing.
Mothers do not need to feel guilty about their careers despite what society may profess, but they do need certain pillars in place to thrive. One of these pillars is parenting partnerships that are equal.
We should not carry the mental load of parenting and running the home just because that’s the way it’s always been done. This results in ‘groundhog day’, perpetual busyness and eventual burnout.
Sharon is a senior executive leader and a mum of three. During our coaching session, Sharon discovered she unconsciously takes on the lion’s share of family-related work because it’s quicker and easier and she and her partner have always operated this way. Whilst this worked for a while, Sharon is tired. Sharon worked on leading changes to create the equality, energy and flow she now enjoys at home.
Aligning family and work today requires us to move with the times if working parents are to thrive, feel in control and be productive.
Mother’s Day marks a day of acknowledgement and celebration. Mums and working mums everywhere deserve to be celebrated.
About Dina Cooper
Dina Cooper is coach, speaker and author of Smart Parenting – How to Develop Your Child’s Mindset, Courage and Resilience for the Future of Work. Dina is dedicated to helping parent leaders thrive both at home and at work. She is mum to two boys ages 10 and 12 and lives with her husband and children in Sydney, Australia. For more on how to thrive as a working parent visit www.hoogi.com.au
Kathy Fray is a senior Midwife, who’s been a best-selling birth-babies-motherhood Author since 2005. Kathy is also the managing director of the MotherWise resources (go to www.KathyFray.com) and she is a global influencer on perinatal integrative medicine.
SALUTING WORKING MUMS!
To work, or not to work, that is the question . . . but if you psychoanalysed the ‘answer’, its personality would be described as a deranged, confused, bewildered lost soul. There is no right or wrong response, only what is best for you. Yet, hasn’t society done an astoundingly stupendous job of telling women what they need to do to be a perfect mother?
Historically, women have always worked while raising their children. That’s a fact. The credo that mothers should not abandon their children for paid work, but should stay home with their offspring, only became possible in the 1950s and 1960s — which was the brief window in time between two world wars, and the feminist fight for contraception and equal pay. But pretty much since then, and nearly always before then, the idea of full-time motherhood was simply a whimsical notion.
So now modern, educated mothers of the new millennium are left with the always perplexing, enigmatic, problematic and virtually unsolvable conundrum of whether to choose the guilt of working, or the guilt of not working. And if finances dictate there is no option but to work, then there’s the guilt of not having the choice of your first-preferred guilt. It’s so absurd that it’s sadly comical.
But — lest we forget — stay-at-home mums are more vulnerable to depression, and depressed mothers are not the best mothers! And then there’s the self-employed mum who crams her work at home into the moments when her baby is sleeping, and after her baby is in bed at night.
To quote Kate Figes in Life After Birth: “Working mothers can just about manage to juggle work, motherhood and their relationship provided that nothing else happens.”
What makes combining a family and career easier? Being born a man!
Peace Mitchell, Founder The Women’s Business School, AusMumpreneur Network and The Business Mums Collective
- What are your tips for working Mums?
Work will always be there, life won’t, so choose life. On weekends and after work let work go, spend time enjoying your family, try to ensure you have a proper break on weekends so that you feel refreshed and ready for the week ahead.
- How have you achieved as much as you have over the last few years since becoming a Mum?
I’m a big believer in the idea that anything is possible so I set big goals for myself. I used to play small and thought that by keeping my goals smaller or more realistic it would be better but I’ve found that it takes just as much work to make a small goal come true as a big one so we may as well go big.
- What is your biggest challenge when it comes to being a working Mum?
I focus every day on balance and ensuring that I don’t let my work time creep over into my family time but sometimes when we’re launching a big campaign or I’m travelling it’s not possible and you do have to put in extra hours and I find this really challenging and tiring.
- What are your proudest moments as a working Mum?
I love that as I have my own business I’ve been able to create the flexibility to allow me to have family time and help my children to achieve their dreams. My eldest son is a professional dancer and being my own boss meant that I was always able to take him to auditions, dance competitions, ballet exams and special training when he was growing up. Being able to provide these opportunities for my children and seeing them follow their dreams is what I’m most proud of.
- Do you believe in balance?
Yes I’m a big advocate for self-care and creating boundaries around my time and energy so that I can be present for my family when I’m with them and present for my clients when I’m with them. I love working but I’ve seen first-hand the impact that burn-out can have on your life.
- Anything else you want to add about becoming a Mum and continuing with your career?
I love that technology has provided us with the freedom to choose how we want to incorporate work into our lives. The opportunities and experiences I have today are things that my grandmother could only have dreamt about and I do feel very fortunate to live this life.
You may also like to read: