I’m a Finalist and What Flexible Working Means to Me
Firstly, I want to take the time to say a very big thank you. A thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Mum and Working Awards, it means a huge amount to me. I am very excited to announce that I am a finalist in the Parenting Blogger of the Year category. The winner is announced at an event on the 6th March, but I am just delighted to have made it this far.
I thought I would take a moment to explain what my blog and what flexible working means to me. Before I had children I was a person who insisted that I would never, ever give up work. That I had worked really hard for my career, and there was no doubt in my mind that I would go back after I had a children.
I think there are many things that you think of before you have children, and then after your perceptions change. I did return to work after Logan, I went into a new role 3 days a week which seemed like a great balance. What I didn’t expect what the emotions after I returned. I didn’t expect to miss him so much, to feel sad about missing those firsts. But the very hardest thing of all was the juggle.
The juggle of childcare, his first year in childcare he got so sick and regularly. A burst ear drum, hand, foot and mouth, repeated sickness bugs that seemed to go on for weeks and it felt like I was taking so much time off work. Then there was the guilt when I took him back to childcare when he really could have done with just one more days rest at home, but I just couldn’t afford to take anymore time off. The times I was ill myself but didn’t dare call in sick. I remember munching on Imodium tablets one day to survive on an upset stomach. It was around this time I also got reactive arthritis and despite being in awful pain, I dragged myself in each day as I really couldn’t afford another day away from the office.
There was the rush from work to home, hoping you will make it in time and not get stuck in traffic. Rushing him home for bath and bed so he wasn’t over tired and ready to be up again to leave at 7 for the childminder. At this time my husband started travelling too, the weeks he was away were like a military operation. If one thing was out of place all of the ducks would come tumbling down. And, throughout all of it, I began to feel that the person suffering the most through all of this was my son. I felt like we were putting him last and I was also worrying that it was making myself ill too.
When I fell pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I sat down and chatted about it and I knew something had to give. That we couldn’t carry on the way we were going, we also knew that childcare costs for two children, combined with travel costs were pretty much going to mean I was going to be going to work for barely anything at all.
It was at this point I decided to give up work and take some time out. I did take time out, and had a lovely year not working, taking time with my son before his sister was born and then taking time to adjust to being a mother of two. But, we also knew from our finances that once the maternity pay ran out, I would need to start earning some extra money. My target was just to replace my maternity pay, so £500 per month.
I started at first re-selling the Cambridge weight plan as a consultant. But on top of this I also began to blog. My daughter is allergic to milk and the first few months of her life were hard work, with some nights her sleeping barely more than 3 hours at a time. The blog gave me a place to write about my experiences of motherhood, but also to be creative in a way I really enjoyed. I never expected it to take off the way it did and a year into things, I had a choice to make. Should I pursue my blogging career, or carry on working as a Cambridge consultant, because I could no longer effectively manage the two. In the end it was a no brainer, I have always loved to write and blog was my own creative journey that I had grown all by myself and very special to me.
It was the best decision I have made. This blog is now my business and I love it. It makes a good, modest income for me which has meant I haven’t had to return to traditional office work. I also do a little freelancing on the side too. It’s given the freedom for me as a mother to be there for my children. To do the school runs, attend the nativities, not panic when they’re sick as I know I can flex things around and be there for them. The fact my husband travels with work is no longer a source of huge stress, and the choice to make my own hours and decisions is a massive relief.
I will add that as much as I may love it, it’s not always easy. There are times I put in more hours than I am paid for. I see this as an investment and usually I can see the fruits of these choices. If my children are sick and I have to take time out, if I have a commitment I will work until midnight after they are in bed to get it done. There are still times I have to work when I am sick, a deadline is after all a deadline. The money isn’t always regular and that can be nerve-wracking and some businesses take ages to pay invoices, which can seriously impact your cash flow. I would also say that some people do not always understand what you do when you work from home. I am often referred to as a stay-at-home Mum when in reality I probably now work more hours than I did when I was traditionally employed. But for me the flexibility and being able to be there for my children is everything. I could talk about how I think traditional business models should flex for modern times and how they are completely missing out on a passionate and hard working workforce, but that is probably a whole new blog post in itself. For now, I am grateful for what I have.
Being in the finals for this award means so much, as I put so much of my soul into the blog. I write from the heart, I share my families lives, but I also treat it and the partnerships I have developed professionally. I am proud that many businesses have chosen to work multiple times with me, which for me I hope shows that I am doing a good job. But it’s also amazing when people talk to me or message me to tell me that they like to read my work regularly, or that it has resonated with them in someway.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading, coming back and voting. This blog has given me a new career that I am immensely grateful for. I don’t know where this blogging journey is going to take me, but I do it is a privilege to be going along for the ride.