Joycellyn is the founder and editor of motherswhowork.co.uk – the definitive resource for working mums, business mums and stay-at-home mums who are serious about making money. A journalist of over 10 years and mum of two children, Joycellyn is passionate about showing mums how to successfully juggle work and raise a family – either when working for themselves or working for an employer. Joycellyn has a great deal of experience helping mums who are concerned about getting back into work after having time off to have a baby, who are worried about the expensive cost of childcare, or who feel guilty and anxious about leaving their baby. For individual advice you can contact Joycellyn direct at: www.greatvine.com/joycellyn-akuffo
Speak to me on 0906 752 0324, £0.75/min from a BT landline; calls from mobiles and other networks may vary
Juggling work while raising a family
Going back to work after any break can be a daunting prospect – and one that is often racked with guilt about leaving your child with someone else. But there are things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.
I am thinking about reducing my hours when I return to work from maternity leave, but I’m worried that my employer will refuse my request. What should I do?
The good news is that every parent with a child aged up to 18 years of age has the right to apply for flexible working.
Every mother faces a dilemma when they have a baby – to work or not to work, but a good balance for both you and your baby is getting the flexibility you need at work so you can still spend time with your child. While your employer doesn’t have to accept your request to work flexibly, they do have a legal responsibility to ‘seriously consider’ your request, and they have to respond within a timeframe once you have made your request in writing. If they reject your request, you can still appeal it, and even take them to a tribunal if you feel that you are being treated unfairly. What you need to do is think like your employer when you put your request in writing. Sound out the possible business reasons they could use to reject your application so that you can present a strong solution to them. If you want to reduce your days from five to three, and a colleague who does the same job as you wants to reduce their days to two, for example, you could put this in your application, detailing how the job share would be managed. Whatever you do, don’t just have a casual conversation about changing the way you work in passing and then be put off if your boss doesn’t seem keen. You must put your request in writing so that it is taken seriously.
I’m exhausted looking after my children as it is – let alone the thought of going back to work and still having chores and responsibilities to take care of when I come home. Is it even worth going back to work? How can I get the balance right?
Being a working mum is not about being superwoman. So, the first thing that every mother who works needs is a good routine, good time management and a reliable support system. With those things in place, it will make juggling work and family commitments much easier and less stressful.
Chores are cyclical and don’t end, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be managed. Get everyone in the household involved – from your spouse or partner to the toddlers. Get your children to learn to tidy up after themselves, even as young toddlers – they can learn to pack away their toys every night before bed, which means one less thing for you to worry about.
Also, communication is key – if you need help, ask for it. Don’t sit and fester or get stressed; there really is no need. Ask family and friends to support you with school runs, etc, and repay the favour in some form. Finally, remember to take some time out for yourself. Even if it is a morning a month when you go for a walk to recharge your batteries or get some time to take stock, it really will be worth it.
I’m breastfeeding exclusively at the moment, but will be returning to work in three months’ time. My daughter will be six months old, so I’d like her to continue to take breast milk, but I don’t know how to keep it up.
Breastfeeding is often one of the first things to stop when mums go back to work – especially when they don’t know how to keep it going while working, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you want to continue breastfeeding, you can also express breast milk and take it to the childminder or nursery for your child when you go to work and they will give it to your child in the same way that they would give them formula milk.
You can express your milk as often as you can and freeze it in ice trays, or ice bags and tell the childcare provider how many to give to your baby per feed.
At work, you can ask your employer to work flexible hours or take breaks to express (or breastfeed if your childcare provider is close to work).
If you breastfeed exclusively, remember to get your baby as used to taking milk from the bottle as possible, with your expressed milk. Some babies take a while to get used to this, and it’s a good idea to start expressing leading up to going back to work to get your body used to the change, too.