Inspiration

What working mums really want for Mother’s Day – and it’s not just a sleep-in

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Recently, a friend asked me an all-too-familiar question: “My maternity leave is up in a few weeks and my workplace only has a full time position available for me. I really want to work part-time so I can spend more time with my baby. What can I do?”

I see this all too often. Businesses will sacrifice incredible employees, with years of experience, because they can’t comprehend a workable alternative to full-time, onsite employment.

This is exactly what happened to me nearly 7 years ago. My workplace wouldn’t accommodate a ‘family friendly’ working arrangement, despite the expertise and industry knowledge that left when I did.

As employers choose to hire less experienced staff who are willing to sit in their building from 9 to 5, many mothers, like myself, are choosing to harness our expertise to develop our own brands.

For me, it took hard work, sacrifice, and working into the wee hours while baby slept but here I am, 7 years later, drawing on nearly two decades of media and advertising experience to run a successful Advertising Agency with my hubby and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Seasoned Mumpreneur, Anna Barnes (mother of 4), left her career as a lawyer over a decade ago to launch Anna Nova. Combining her love for fashion with her business acumen, Anna’s jewellery and accessories business has achieved international success, and she’s diversified to include handbags and clothing under another brand; Journie.

Anna’s advice to fledgling Mumpreneurs is: “Follow your passion, don’t despise small beginnings, start small and keep taking steps towards that dream! It’s going to take loads of hard work, but everything worth doing properly does. Don’t compare your journey with others. Find someone who is able to mentor you and delegate areas/ tasks that you are not strong in. Go for it!”

New Mumpreneur, Kerry Manthey (mother of 3) has just left her career in financial planning to launch her online retail store Simply Home and Holiday. Kerry’s vast business knowledge and financial prowess are already ensuring her new venture is a success!

What businesses need to realise is that, along with years of experience and industry knowledge, mothers returning to the workforce have developed super powers they may not have possessed prior to their foray into motherhood. Here are some of the skills that make mothers desirable employees and outstanding entrepreneurs:

Multi-tasking

You simply cannot succeed at motherhood without acquiring this skill. Any mother who has tried to breastfeed a newborn during a sibling meltdown, whilst the distinct aroma of a burnt meal wafts through the house knows exactly what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!

Keeping your cool

Hell hath no fury like a 3 year old whose sandwiches have been cut into squares when they wanted triangles. They make your resident workplace bully look like a kitten. My tolerance and my ability to keep my cool in the face of ridiculous demands has improved out of sight, thanks to ample training at the hands of my kids!

Getting it done

If you want something done fast and done right, get a mum to do it. We don’t have time to waste redoing a bad job. You don’t get a second chance at tying a toddler’s shoe laces. If it didn’t work the first time – they’re off, baby!

No more catty chat

Mums are far less likely to get caught up in idle gossip and the ‘he said’ ‘she said’ rubbish that might have entertained us around the coffee machine pre-infant. Mostly, you’ll find all the working mums discussing parent-teacher interviews and bed wetting.

Monday is the new fun day

In a previous life, Monday hurt. It signalled the end of relaxation and sleep-ins for another 5 days. For working parents with small kids, sleep-ins are a distant memory and weekends are just another two days of tantrums and wiping bums. When women first ventured into the workplace, they uncovered a dirty little secret that men had kept to themselves for too long: Going to work is literally a holiday compared to parenting. Oh yes; drinking coffee while it’s still hot, uninterrupted conversations, finishing a task in one sitting, listening to the radio – rather than a Wiggles marathon. Like grocery shopping alone, going to work is pure bliss.

The first time I scored a freelancing gig in the city after having kids, my hubby took some time off work to look after them. About 2 hours into my first day, he called and instantly, I recognised ‘that tone’: Exhausted, confused and almost tearful. ‘I just want you to know that you’re my hero… and,’ but I couldn’t hear the rest because an epic tantrum was in full swing at his feet. ‘Love you, bye!’ I smiled and hung up. Bye tantrum. Every workplace needs a working mum around on Monday morning to lift team morale. We’re the happiest people in the office.

So, here’s to all the working mums who are forced to miss their child’s heartfelt miming of ‘You Raise Me Up,’ complete with actions, at your school’s Mother’s Day concert because your boss just doesn’t get it. I see you and I feel you.

And to the full time stay-at-home-mums keeping it real because, let’s be honest, you’ve got the toughest gig in town. I’ve been there!

This Mother’s Day, I dream of workplaces that value the role of motherhood and what it really means to be a working mum. And bosses who are willing to compromise in order to harness the experience and life skills that working mums have to offer. Because we’re worth it.

About Annette Spurr

Annette is co-founder of Blue Box Media; a full service advertising agency in Brisbane. With over 15 years’ media and advertising experience, Annette specialises in writing for TV, radio, print and digital platforms. She’s also the founder of MumDaily.com.au where she blogs regularly about life as a working mum. In her spare time, Annette loves running, reading and doing life with her husband and two boys.

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