Every person has a completely unique experience when it comes to parenting and planning for parenthood, both inside and outside of the workplace.
In this blog, we are sharing three different perspectives on how to navigate your career and a family: preparing for maternity leave, returning to work post children, and working part time in a job share.
Preparing for maternity leave - Jade Lovell
I am guilty like most EAs of planning way ahead of time and organising all of life’s upcoming events. I used to joke that if I were ever given the chance to plan my life, or even have a glimpse into what the future held, I would take it. Call me crazy, but at least it would mean being prepared and in control of what’s to come.
Life deals us unexpected cards and finding out I was pregnant was one of those moments. A flurry of thoughts ran through my mind, but ultimately a huge question I had, and one I did not have the answer to right away was, what all this now meant for my career at Baringa? As a relatively new employee, I was concerned about being judged and as an EA whose responsibility it is to seamlessly support the Partnership, alongside my team, it was unsettling to feel like I might lose my place.
Fortunately, I accepted these changes and put my focus into the things I could still control, such as handing my role over, supporting with recruitment for my maternity cover, completing comprehensive handover notes and making sure the diaries were as streamlined as possible (queue a thousand changes!).
A huge passion of mine is Learning and Development. Recently, I have spent time upskilling myself in time management and have attended both internal and external training, ensuring I share this knowledge with the wider team. This gave me a chance to create and implement a programme that would run beyond my period of leave, and which would help me to still feel involved and part of the team I would be leaving for a few months.
Like many people, finding out you are pregnant and preparing for maternity is tough – it’s life changing. The first trimester of secrecy, where you are waiting to tell the world, is torture. The emotional and physical changes you experience on top of redefining your professional path can be overwhelming. It is safe to say planning for maternity has bought me a level of vulnerability, empowerment, and compassion all at the same time. I feel as if I am a completely different employee, colleague, and line manager because of my experience, and, I am more ambitious than ever to ensure I do everything I can now, to pave the way for success and opportunity on my return.
Returning to work post children - Victoria Andrews
I joined Baringa in February 2018, after having my first child. I returned to work full time and commuted into London four days a week. A year and a half later I went on maternity leave again, with my second child. I always look back on this as a truly special, happy, and unique time in my life. You are purely devoted to raising your child, spending time as a family and being there for all those special moments.
Prior to children, I thought having a decent work life balance meant being able to enjoy work and progress, but also have time to socialise and keep up with hobbies. However, achieving this post children, was a whole new challenge. I needed to find time to do my job, be a good and present mum, keep on top of everyday house jobs, and try to still have some form of a social life – all whilst not burning out!
A typical working day for me felt as though I had two full time jobs, being a mum and an EA. By the time I got to the office, I felt I had already done a day’s work, waking up at silly o’clock, getting myself and the children ready, preparing their meals and sprinting to catch the train. Once the working day was done, I would yet again rush to make the train home, switching ‘mummy mode’ on and hoping I get some quality time with my children before bed. When I look back at that period, I carried a lot of guilt. I was very aware I was never the first one in the office or the last to leave but I never actually vocalised how I was feeling. Unconsciously, I was trying to do too much, I wanted to be successful at work whilst being a great mum, but for a long time I did not feel I was doing a good job of either.
Returning to work after my second child, I knew I could not go back in the same capacity I had done before. I was spreading myself too thin and ultimately putting too much pressure on myself. I started conversations with Baringa about my return to work and what that could look like. My role as an EA was full-time, so what was the answer? I was fortunate that another EA was planning to return from maternity around the same time as me, posing the potential of Baringa’s first ever job share - this was not something that had crossed my mind. I was unbelievably appreciative of their support in giving us the perfect solution. It shows the commitment here, giving people flexibility and enabling them to thrive in a job they enjoy, whilst also recognising their commitments at home.
I now work three days a week having two days at home with my children. I can honestly say for me, this has had an enormous impact on my life in such a positive way. I feel like on my working days, I have much more capacity to dedicate my energy and focus on my role. ‘Mum guilt’ is sadly always present, but it has reduced so much more because I can now enjoy those two days spending quality time with my children.
Part-time and job sharing - Paige Greenfield
I returned to work after a career break and having my two children. I was looking for a part-time EA role which would enable me to progress my career, whilst also providing me with the flexibility to enjoy precious time with my children.
Women can have it all - if you find an organisation that supports you. I could not believe my luck when I found Baringa, a company that truly felt aligned with my values, as well as offering me a role that I could see myself thrive in. If I could not work part-time, I would not have been able to work at all. The all or nothing mentality of a corporate environment is outdated, if women choose to work and raise a family, they should not have to pick one or the other. There is no one size fits all when it comes to balancing your chosen lifestyle. The set up must be suitable to your role, which is why a job share is essential for my success as a part-time EA at Baringa.
My role is extremely fast paced, busy and challenging, therefore, three days a week to support four Partners would not be effective. However, utilising the job share allows the allocation to be covered by two people. We often get asked “how does it work?”. We share the week and overlap on a Wednesday to catch up, align, and handover. Handovers are crucial for the successful running of our job share and communication between us is key. It can be challenging to ensure we are always on top of our tasks, and nothing slips through the cracks. We have built up our ways of working which are constantly evolving. In true Baringa style, a successful collaboration is vital for the smooth running of our roles.
Whilst I love the hybrid working approach and ability to work from home, my days in the office feel like a ‘day off’ for me. Am I the only parent that feels like that? Juggling the responsibilities at home is not always easy - logistically and emotionally it can be draining. We all have our own challenges and hurdles we face outside of work, but knowing you have a company that values you enables us to bring our authentic selves to work.
How does your employer support your career and wellbeing whilst planning for a family?
Each family's circumstances vary, and we all have different ways of making it work. Above are only three perspectives of how we are navigating our way through work and life as a parent. Tell us your story and how you are managing your family and career. We want to empower people to have these open conversations, feel supported in their individual needs and share experiences and learnings. Employers are increasingly recognising the value in offering flexibility, which allows parents to return to work. Having processes in place within a company not only offers invaluable support to employees, but can also benefit the business as they attract and retain talent, bringing out the best in their people. What challenges did you face when planning for a family, how did you approach these challenges and how did your employer support you?
About the author and this series:
Jade is a Senior EA within Baringa’s Enablement function. A self-confessed planner, organiser and advocate for Learning and Development!
Victoria is an EA in Baringa’s Business Enablement team with 15 years' worth of experience. Having been navigating her way through work and parenthood for six years, she is keen to share her experiences of life as a working mum, and how to find the right balance.
Paige is an EA within Baringa’s Enablement team and works with the Financial Services sector at Baringa. She manages 4 Partners, 2 children and 1 husband. She loves fashion, food and barre.
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