I’ve read lots recently about freelancing mums and wanted to add to the debate and talk about why I have chosen flexible employment and how it works for me.
Since having my children in 2010 and 2014 I’ve (nearly) always been employed. I’ve tried 3 days, 4 days, and 4 days over 5 days (phew!) and many combinations of nurseries, after school etc. For me the boundaries and routines of regular employment are actually really helpful to parenting. Perhaps it’s my personality type but for me stability and consistency are really important-and when thinking about what to do for the best in your career after children I think is important to recognise your own values.
Earlier this year I took 3 months off between jobs- I considered freelancing and even not working - but weirdly during this time it was the first time we had ever been late for school or missed a crucial appointment. Without a focus and timetable in the mornings my routine really went to pot. Not that it’s perfect now- but when you have to get out at a certain time you really can do it.
I work full time now and I’m a mum of two - one at school and one pre school. I’ve found a senior Marketing Director role where I can work from home 3 days a week- though it does mean some nights away from home. My husband also works from home and without a shadow of a doubt I couldn’t do my job without the flexibility he also has. After motherhood it might not be just you that has to change your work pattern and if you and your partner (if you have one) can both have some flexibility it can make a real difference.
For me working with a steady income, predictable hours and the ability to shut the laptop at the end of the day and switch off is so important.
So for me what’s good about being employed:
Security (as much as you’ll ever get anyway)
Switch off- you can usually just leave it til Monday.
Switch it- if it’s not working there are other jobs out there
Training- helping you get where you really want to be
Community- others in the same boat or just other adult humans
What’s not so good
Other people will rely on you and this can sometimes feel too much on top of family life.
You sometimes have to make very hard choices about who gets your time.
Not all employers understand the struggle of the juggle
Ultimately whether freelance or employed you will probably know in your heart if it is working or not for you and family. There is not a right or wrong answer it is much more about how it fits with your values and personality.
Liz Cobbold is Marketing Director at Broadland Wineries and has nearly 20 years experience in senior marketing roles for Adnams and Tesco. She has two sons aged 4 and 8. Liz works flexibly and has been through the process of deciding whether to go freelance or not and chose the employed route.
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Meet Liz at our 'Making Work, Work' event on 13th Feb at Bills Norwich. She has agreed to speed mentoring sessions after the talk with Annie Ridout (author of The Freelance Mum) and Steph Douglas, owner of Don't Buy Her Flowers) - tickets and information is available here.