On our recent Game Changers programme someone asked me for some more real life stories of where it can work. Stories of other mothers who are doing something they love, have changed the rules around working parenthood, have swapped careers. This is something that’s been on my mind for a while. I used to blog real stories of returning to work after maternity leave and these were really useful insights and sharing of knowledge and experiences.
Too often women, particularly mothers, who have achieved success career wise are vilified, sometimes even their ability to mother is questioned in a way I can’t ever remember seeing with fathers. This current wave of positivity around motherhood and actually feminism as a whole at the moment is so exciting and refreshing. We need to keep going with these examples of mothers who have made it ‘work’ in lots of different ways and preferably different industries. Those who have started their own businesses, those who have stayed at home, those who have gone freelance, those who returned from mat leave and negotiated a flexible working arrangement that actually works for their family. And we also need, perhaps even more so, examples of fathers who have done the same.
However, within these stories we also need to be honest about the realities, as Anna (Mother Pukka) describes so perfectly in this blog post – show me the money. She talks about the hard graft involved in startingyour own business which I quote is, “not some sort of parental mecca” and is refreshingly honest about actually making any money at the end of it.
It is exceptionally hard work, sometimes I feel like I’ve swapped 9-5 for 24-7. The money question is important because ultimately, I imagine for most of us, we need to earn a salary at some point. Not feeling awkward talking about this might actually be really useful so within the guest posts I’m going to fight my own squeamishness and just ask – argh.
And this brings me on to the ever present ‘balance’ question too. I have debated for a long time whether it is ever o.k to ask a mother, “how do you manage to be successful and have a family”?
A friend of mine (who notably is pretty successful in my eyes) finds it extremely irritating.“You just wouldn’t ask a man that question” she rants, and don’t get her started on compromises, “I’ve not ‘compromised’ time with my children, I have made decisions that were right for me and my family.” Of course not all of us feel quite so confident in our decisions but she is right, you never ask a man whether he can ‘have it all’.
However, if we don’t ask anything then perhaps we miss out on really useful conversations here too. This brilliant blog post from The Modern Nursery captures perfectly the realities of being the now celebrated (rightly) Mumboss.
So I’ve decided instead just to adapt it a bit, whilst women still face inequality the question clearly comes from a place of wanting to understand and learn. Perhaps it feels better to ask about how ‘as a family’ everything is held together?
As well as, “do you feel like you are losing your sh*t on a daily basis and how the hell do you stop that happening?” which I don’t think is about being female but just more broadly about managing life as a parent.
And finally I am going to ask about the process of Game Changing. It’s good to hear about the results, it’s always nice to know it all turns out o.k in the end but let’s be honest about the realities here too.
It took me 3 years of planning my business before I finally Changed my Game and went it alone. Within this time I tested stuff out (admittedly a little too much, my biggest learning being that if you wait until it’s perfect you will never start) but also hanging out with friends through three maternity leaves, drinking a lot of coffee, learning a lot of stuff. I don’t say this to sound like some sort of annoying ancient mother who has been there and bought the t-shirt OR to suggest that it can’t be done quicker (it definitely can) but more to reassure you that if you’ve not worked it all out yet then this is fine.
So, with all that in mind, I’m kind of hoping I will still get some takers on the whole guest blog front – haha.
Look out for some Mothers who will be sharing their stories in the weeks ahead…