working mother

Being A Working Mother In The 21st Century | International Women’s Day

The art of mothering is defined as ‘bringing up a child with care and attention’. In today’s society, where women are determined more so than ever to be recognised as equal, we’re seeing a rise of mothers entering offices and places of work all over the world. But, quite simply, how are they doing it? Is it possible to be a career woman as well as a doting mother? To honour International Women’s Day, we interviewed a handful of working mothers who are currently balancing motherhood and their careers. Read on to discover how long they worked for during their pregnancies, why they think working is beneficial for their children and how they cope with the daily stresses of being both a mother and a businesswoman…

SAM EASTWOOD, FITNESS & LIFESTYLE COACH
working mother

Sam has one daughter, Nalah, aged 7.

Your job role?
I’m a Pilates trainer in the movie sector.

What struggles do you face being both a mother and a career woman?
Balancing everything out and lack of time is always an ongoing battle! Switching off from work when it’s time to be a mother, too…

Did you keep working during your pregnancy?
Yes – all the way through!

Describe a usual working day for you.
I start the day with a coffee, see my husband off to work and get Nalah up. We then have breakfast together and it’s off to school. If I have time, I train myself (usually on the mat at home) before heading to the studio where I’ll be training clients and working on my GET SET workout program. Each day varies – I could be updating the website and adding new workouts or advising GET SET members on fitness and food – it just depends on what needs to be done that day. I usually grab a quick lunch around 1pm (often prepped beforehand) and then it’s on to the next location for the next client training session. I pick Nalah up from school at 4.30pm and we’re usually home by 5pm where we’ll get onto any homework that needs to be done. After that, it’s prepping dinner and winding down and getting ready for bed! I always like to eat at the table as a family as it’s the one time we get to chat about our days in peace! Once Nalah is in bed, it’s back to the laptop to prepare for the next day. Naturally, fitness is hugely important to me – I’ve always got my mat with me and will try and squeeze in several short sessions a day to open up the shoulders, unwind the wrists and stretch the hamstrings.

Do you find the balance of being a career woman and a mother easy or difficult?
I wouldn’t say difficult because I have a strong bond with my daughter. But admittedly, at times, I want to pull my hair out because everything overlaps! When I start to feel overwhelmed, I train. It focuses me, helps me relax and put things into perspective.

Do you feel constrained in your career now that you have children?
Not at all. I always say that if you want something important done, ask a busy woman!

How does the reward of being a mother compare to the reward of being a successful career woman?
My daughter is my proudest project yet! But really work is work and your family is all encompassing. I suppose, to me, the two are very different.

How do you feel your child benefits from you being a working mother?
I think it’s good to show that women work hard! I want to be a good role model for my daughter and I think working hard is a very natural part of that.

Do you feel like your industry supports mothers who decide to work full time?

The fitness industry is very flexible so I’d say yes, though most people working as a trainer are self-employed so they only really have themselves to answer to. I know that if I don’t work I don’t get paid so I have to be smart about my working hours.

 

DAISY WOLFENDEN, CLIENT SERVICE DIRECTOR, VISIBILIS
working mother

Daisy is mother to Max, who turns 3 in May.

What struggles do you face being both a mother and a career woman?

There are never enough hours in the day! I worry that I miss out on moments of my child’s life because of work but ultimately, I believe that I’m a better mother because of my job. I love my role and have huge pride being part of such a fast-growing agency. Happy mum = happy children.

How do you feel Max benefits from you being a working mother?

My son is only young so doesn’t fully understand what I do at work but he knows that I go out to work every day. From watching me I think he’s developing a strong work ethic and a belief that you have to work for the things you want.

Describe a usual working day for you.

I wake up at 6am. Depending on me and my husbands’ schedules, I either leave the house as early as I can and leave him to wake our son, Max, up or I wake him up and get him ready for the childminders before getting the train. I aim to be in the office between 7:30am and 8am. Working at a company like Visibilis means my day is always varied, spending the day working across clients helping to develop their digital strategies and hit targets. I try and leave the office promptly every day as I like to have supper as a family and try my best to never miss bedtimes. I make up for it by working in the evenings after bath and bed time if anything needs sorting for the next day.

Did you keep working during your pregnancy?

I was lucky with a very smooth pregnancy so could work up until the bitter end.

Do you find the balance of being a career woman and a mother easy or difficult?

There’s no denying it’s difficult. There are days that I’ve felt I’ve failed as a mother – though I think every mother feels that at some points, whether working or not. I get huge satisfaction working with Visibilis and watching our strategies transform and grow businesses online. While I know that my career means that there are certain things I can’t give my family, what they do get is a happy mummy who is confident and fulfilled. I think that makes me a better mother, in return.

Do you feel constrained in your career now that you have children?

We have worked to set the business up in a way that supports my home life, too. I also have great family support so I’m very lucky in that respect.

How does the reward of being a mother compare to the reward of being a successful career woman?

The reward of a career is a personal achievement, made possible by collaborations. The reward of being a mother is incomparable – without a doubt the most incredible thing I’ve done. Every day is full of 100 small struggles and 100 more moments of amazement and pride. My career is a choice – motherhood is part of who I am.

Do you feel like your industry supports mothers who decide to work full time?

Not always – but Visibilis does, so I feel very lucky.

working mother

 

IZABELA MINKIEWICZ, CHILDREN'S BOUTIQUE OWNER

Your job role?

I am the founder of Blue Almonds, the children’s boutique on Walton Street in Knightsbridge. When I first opened the shop 10 years ago, we sold furniture and home accessories, but due to customer demand we expanded into other accessories, and now we’re a one-stop shop for everything you could need for your little ones, from clothing to sleep accessories to a crib – we have it all!

How many children do you have? How old are they?

I have two beautiful children, my son Filip and my daughter Matylda Mia. Filip is 8 and so eager to learn and experience everything! Matylda is 18 months and at that lovely age where she’s really coming into her personality, although I can’t believe how much my baby has grown – I want her to stay small forever!

What struggles do you face being both a mother and a career woman?

I fell pregnant with Filip shortly after Blue Almonds first opened, which was a huge challenge. I started Blue Almonds because I thought having my own business would allow me to spend more time with my husband and – eventually – our family, but as any business owner would know, that turned out to not be the case! I have learned that the most important thing in life is to learn to prioritise tasks. This allows me to balance a healthy work and family life.

How do you feel your children benefit from you being a working mother?

Beyond all else, all the beautiful clothes I bring back from them whenever we have new deliveries in! I have been very fortunate in that I have a very strong team at the shop, who I trust entirely. This has allowed me to be flexible with my timing, so I can be there for my children whenever they need it – from school plays and music recitals to when they’re ill and at home in bed. I know many mothers don’t have that luxury, so I’m very grateful. Promoting a hard work ethic has always been very important to me and my husband. Filip never complains about his homework and chores, as he appreciates he has to put effort in to have the beautiful life we lead.

working mother
working mother

Describe a usual working day for you.

Our day always starts with a family breakfast. Then Filip and I leave and I drop him to school before getting to the store for a day of client queries and various meetings, such as suppliers. I will also catch up with my PR team and touch base with the web department to ensure our Ecommerce platform is all running smoothly. Recently Janet Jackson was seen coming out of the store, and our website had so many visitors it nearly crashed! They had to work very hard to ensure everything remained up and running. I always make sure I am home when he gets back from school, so we can spend time together and eat as a family before he heads to bed. I am constantly on my emails and available by phone though. I have learnt to multi-task very well indeed!

Did you keep working during your pregnancies?

Entirely! With Filip I had very little choice, as we were so new! Everything was still developing so fast and the store was doing so well, I didn’t want to take my foot off the pedal. I was very lucky during my pregnancy with Matylda as I felt very energised throughout, so I considered it a chance to finish up as many projects as possible. This allowed me to step back a bit when she was born, as by then I knew I had people around me I could rely on. My boys were taking great care of me and often breakfast would be served in my bed!

Do you find the balance of being a career woman and a mother easy or difficult?

I think it’s always difficult to juggle time as I want to be everywhere all the time. But you have to find your own priorities and work out what is important. Overall though, I am very lucky in that I have a wonderful family and love my career. I feel so passionately both about being a mother and a business owner, so it comes quite easily.

Do you feel constrained in your career now that you have children?

Not at all! I am constantly learning from my children. I believe they are my biggest teachers in life. I’m a much wiser woman having my children around! Every time they have a new experience it gives me more inspiration, both in life and in business.

How does the reward of being a mother compare to the reward of being a successful career woman?
I think my family is my foundation and the grounding for my success. Being a mother is the most rewarding thing I have ever done – my husband and I are absolutely blessed with our children.

 

CHARLOTTE FORSHAW, CORPORATE SALES MANAGER, MAXWELL SCOTT
working mother

Charlotte is mum to Liliana, 5, and Jax, 2.

What struggles do you face being both a mother and a working woman?

Getting the work/home life balance right! And being on time! You will always get mother’s guilt when leaving the little ones for the first time to return to work. I also find you have to manage people’s expectations of you. Just because you are a working mother doesn’t mean you’ll work any less hard.

How do you feel your children benefit from you being a working mother?

Having some time apart makes us all appreciate each other more when we are together.

Describe a usual working day for you.

I am up early with the youngest at around 6am. Then, I prepare the children for school and nursery. I drive into York for the school drop-off, then out of York for the nursery drop off and finally to work. A day at work based at the company HQ can vary from call handling, client outreach, paperwork and meetings. Then, reverse nursery pick up, school run and back home to help the eldest with homework, prepare dinner, bathtime and then, finally, bedtime!

Did you keep working during your pregnancies?

With my first child I worked right up to and including my due date. She was a week late so I needed something to keep me occupied! Second time around I took the time to rest as much as possible before the birth (but not too much!) as I had the first one to run around after.

Do you find the balance of being a working woman and a mother difficult? If so, how?

It’s hard when you first return, managing the home, children and working but eventually you find a way of making it work and a happy compromise.

Do you feel constrained in your career now that you have children?

I don’t feel constrained but your priorities change once you have children. I achieved a lot in my career prior to having children and It’s now more about getting a job which fits around the children and has flexibility. I still want to feel fulfilled in my career, but at the same time I also want to make sure I’m fulfilling the needs of my children.

How does the reward of being a mother compare to the reward of being successful at work?

It’s completely different. Both are fulfilling in different ways. You can’t compare the pride you feel when your children smile or walk for the first time to hitting targets.

Do you feel like your industry supports mothers who decide to work?

I used to work in the media industry in London before having children and that was very fast paced and target orientated. You almost had to sacrifice your career for children. These days it’s very different and employers have come to value working mothers more. I’m lucky to now be working in a family business which is very flexible and supportive to my needs and those of my children.

working mother
working mother

 

JAYNE HARDY, FOUNDER OF THE BLURT FOUNDATION

Jayne’s daughter, Peggy, turns 3 this month.

What struggles do you face being both a mother and a career woman?
There are so many – on a practical level, keeping all balls in the air and keeping organised. On an emotional level, making sure I’m being the best mum I can be without putting too much pressure on myself or setting my expectations on what I should be like, too high. It’s too easy to get caught up in posts on social media seeing how other parents ‘parent’ and then to feel you could and should do better. I have to remind myself that a single snapshot (which is so often edited) is not the yardstick of which to compare myself to.

How do you feel your child benefits from you being a working mother?
Aside from the fact that Peggy absolutely adores nursery and spending time with her friends there, I make sure that when I am with Peggy, I am 100% present and not distracted by anything else which means she gets the best of me and we enjoy our time together.

Describe a usual working day for you.
We all get up at 7am, and get ready to take Peggy to nursery for 8am. I return home and work until I need to leave to collect Peggy at 11:50am. We’ll have lunch together and chat about our mornings. Peggy goes down for a nap at 1pm for two hours and then is looked after by her dad whilst I work until 5pm. I then have two hours with Peggy where we’ll eat, play, read and talk before she goes to bed at 7pm.

Did you keep working during your pregnancy?

I did, until 38 weeks.

Do you find the balance of being a career woman and a mother easy or difficult?

Extremely difficult. There is no balance – it all comes at a sacrifice of something.

Do you feel constrained in your career now that you have children?

No, if anything, being a working mum has helped me to improve my time management and productivity skills!

How does the reward of being a mother compare to the reward of being a successful career woman?

It’s important to me that Peggy grows up feeling as though she is loved, supported, and encouraged. Any work-related-success will always be secondary to being as good a mum that I can be.

Do you feel like your industry supports mothers who decide to work full time?

Yes, I’m extremely lucky in that Blurt supports flexible working and so I can fit work in around Peggy.

working mother

 

EVA ALEXANDRIDES, MD OF 111 SKIN
working mother

Michelle has two sons, aged 6 and 11.

What struggles do you face being both a mother and a career woman?

It’s almost a Catch 22 because when the business is doing really well, for example when we launched 111CRYO at Harvey Nichols it was an immediate success, it was a very exciting period of time for me, but of course also that meant that I had a lot more work and ultimately had less time to spend with my children. It’s important to strike a good balance and to assemble a knowledgeable team that can represent me and the brand when I am not available to attend meetings around the world. I definitely travel less now – I used to be away 3 times per month. Now, I have a team of over 30 people which means I can take the odd late afternoon off and to pick the boys up from school or take them to football.

How do you feel your children benefit from you being a working mother?
It’s always been important for me to be an inspiration to my kids and I feel it’s important that they appreciate that I run an extremely successful business whilst also always being there for them. My kids understand what I do – they often come with me to Harrods or Harvey Nichols and see the actual products on display – they have also been to see 111CRYO. My older son follows both brands on Instagram, which means he understands what I do and how important it is to continue to grow the brand. I also take the time to explain to them that I employ people that depend on me for their career development.

Did you keep working during your pregnancies?
I actually started 111SKIN while I was pregnant with my younger son – I did not rest at all, but I loved it! Pregnancy went fast and I found working kept my energy up.

Describe a usual working day for you.
I wake up at 7am and have breakfast with my oldest son before he leaves for school at 7.30am. After a quick walk with the dog, I wake up my second son and have breakfast with him also, before taking him to school at 8.3am. Then I fit in a 1-hour workout – either a run or exercise tape – sometimes a class if I can plan my time precisely enough! After this, I head to the office, where I spearhead the new product development arm of the business. I often have a lunch meeting but if not, I will occasionally meet my husband, who works two minutes away from the office. I usually get home at 7pm, in time to have a family dinner and time with the children. My husband and I will arrange or attend charity events or dinners and we attend after 9pm, when the children are in bed.

Do you find the balance of being a career woman and a mother easy or difficult?
It was harder earlier on in my career. In the first few years of 111SKIN, there were a lot more things that I personally felt I had to be there for and couldn’t delegate to my staff. Now that we’ve become more established and I have employees that I’ve worked with for a long time and can trust, It’s a lot easier to dictate my hours and so the balancing is a lot more straightforward.

Do you feel constrained in your career now that you have children?

Not at all. They inspire me to work hard, not only to provide for them but to instill an idea in them that they should be assiduous.

How does the reward of being a mother compare to the reward of being a successful career woman?

They’re rewarding in such different ways it’s really hard to compare them both. What I can say is that over the years I’m happy that I’ve found out the two things are not mutually exclusive.

Do you feel like your industry supports mothers who decide to work full time?

It’s my own business so luckily I’ve never felt that the industry doesn’t support me. Throughout the years, quite a few of the people who work for me have had babies also and I always ensure we offer them full support and security – we love happy people!

 

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