Top Tips for Working Mums
Halebury Consultant and mother to Alice Sarah Batterbury shares her top tips on juggling work/home life and getting the balance right.
Step 1: Find good child care. This should depend on what your budget is and also how old your child is. I have frequent conversations with other mothers on what works at what age. From my own experience, I sent my daughter to a local nursery at six months old for two days a week and she spent a day with my mother-in-law for one day a week. With hindsight, six months was probably too young for her to be in an atmosphere which was so different to home and next time I would probably look into a childminder at such an early age. However, once my daughter turned one, nursery came into its own and because she was so used to it – she really benefitted from the social side. My biggest tip on child care is to have an open mind and to think about a variety of solutions rather than just one.
Step 2:< Back to basics! You cannot work if you are sleep deprived. Sleep is probably the most important priority for not just being successful in business but simply functioning as a human being! I have many mummy friends who could not even contemplate going back to work because their children keep them up at night. I have been very fortunate in that my daughter has pretty much slept through the night since she was 12 weeks old. I don’t know whether that was by luck or by judgement. Some babies are just not very good sleepers – I totally sympathise if you have one of these children and cannot imagine how torturous it must be never having a full nights sleep (okay – I can because on the nights when my daughter plays up I know that sleep deprivation is a form of torture!). From the outset we had a good sleep routine and I encouraged her to get herself to sleep and stay in her cot until a decent hour in the morning. Fortunately she obliged!
If you don’t have a good sleeper, make sure you get to bed early and bank sleep and take turns with your partner to lie in on weekends. Take advantage of great products like black out blinds and sleep clocks too if you have an early riser.
Step 3: Getting your child not to interrupt when you’re working. Make sure you sandwich work times with fun/play times with your kids. Thank them for letting you work so nicely and reward them with a fun activity afterwards (for example, “Let’s do this fun jigsaw together and then afterwards mummy has to take a work call”).
Step 4: Create a suitable office space. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare bedroom you can commandeer as your office make sure you create an area for your child to play nearby so they can still see you and don’t feel ignored. My daughter has a crayoning rug that we put on the floor in my office when I need to send a quick email. I give her lots of printing paper, some of mummy’s special pens (highlighters!) and she can usually happily amuse herself for half an hour. My colleague Julie gets her children to “help” her – whether that means stapling paper (older children only!) or finding nice pictures to cut out of magazines and leaflets.
Step 5: Get your partner to help more! If he wants you to earn money then he has to take on more responsibility for childcare and housework. Get a cleaner if you can afford one!
Step 6: Utilise technology. Smart phones and tablets mean you can work from anywhere and communicate on the go. You can also share this with your child for example, “Let’s play this fun app and then afterwards mummy needs to send an email”.
Step 7: Be flexible. Routines should be kept flexible – after all, there is really no 9-5 when you’re a working mum! I usually conduct meetings after the kids have gone to bed and sometimes have my most productive meetings between 8-11pm. What else are you going to be doing with your evenings? Don’t watch rubbish TV but use your time wisely to get on with any work you need to catch up on.
Step 8: Be creative. Take every opportunity you can to work including nap times, after the kids have gone to bed, when your partner comes home from work, preschool mornings etc. Your work will get interrupted at some point in the day so use lists and reminders so you don’t lose your train of thought.
Don’t forget to make time you yourself. Being a working mum is the most hectic job in the world and never stops – which means you never stop! Build essential “me” time into your schedule even if that means going to bed at 9pm and reading a good book – this will keep you sane. Good luck!
Contact Sarah: 020 7127 2500