The Art of Adjusting: Insights from a Working Mother

working mother

I have entered the world of becoming a ‘working mother’.

So, as I entered this brave (and terrifying) new world, I headed to Google to find out exactly ‘what being a working mum means?’ According to our favourite search engine, I am ‘a woman with the ability to combine a career with the added responsibility of raising children.’ Obvious enough. And then Google came in with the kicker.

[There are] significant social and personal adjustments are necessary to cope with such a situation. A working mother, especially one who has the good fortune to be able to balance her home and work, enjoys the stimulation that a career provides.’

Again, obvious. Nobody becomes a mother thinking that there won’t be changes to your life. But what form are these adjustments going to take, when looking to gain some equilibrium of being a parent and having a career?

I have always been driven, and I am still very, if not more so, after having children. I do fall into that category of ‘enjoying the stimulation a career gives me’ and this certainly helps as I enjoy what I do at Wasserman and working with inspirational people who make me ‘be, do and think better’ – its daily motivation.

What cannot be denied, however, is that workplaces need to be doing better when it comes to helping parents make those adjustments. And some are better than others. At Wasserman, we are fortunate to have a number of women at the leadership level who have helped influence cultural decisions within the company. In addition, Wasserman launched The Collective a few years ago to advance the power of women within Wasserman, but also externally. This is after all, collective work. (See what I did there?)

So what do these adjustments look like? Well, they aren’t as big as you’d think…

Set boundaries

And be assertive with them! The time I pick my boys up from nursery to when they go to bed is not to be disturbed. Send an email, you’re not going to get an answer. And make sure that people know that – both colleagues and your clients.

This can be done through open and honest communication, be it in person, or by blocking time out in your calendar. I’ve even found adding my working hours to my email footer really helps get the message across. Maybe even a polite out-of-office can help manage expectations. And during those busier, more urgent times (and face it, we’ve all had those times!) – ensure that there is somebody else on your team that can step in. Think of it like a wingman, a sidekick. Batman was nothing without Robin but also make sure that you have your ‘Boy Wonder’s’ back when they need it.

Pick your battles

I’ve also learnt to be smarter with my time and energy. The saying goes “pick your battles wisely”, and that goes for parenting and work. You try and do everything, then you are going to burn out – which is not going to benefit anyone. Think about where there is leeway, where you can say no, or what can wait until another day, when you feel more recharged.

It’s similar, when it comes to delegation. Don’t try and fit everything onto your plate, but utilise the team around you to the best of their abilities. Focus on what really makes you tick, and what you can give your best on, while also helping develop other members of the team to grow into roles. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve learnt – saying no.

All about the vibes

But what about career progression? A lot of the above is about getting through the day, but what are the long-term prospects of a mother when it comes to moving up the business? Research from The Government Equalities Office showed that only 13% of mothers move up the occupational ladder within three years after childbirth. This figure remains the same after five years. Meanwhile, 21% of fathers see career progression after three years, increasing to 26% after five years. That’s clearly a problem.

So my promotion after giving birth to my boys, bucks the norm. But I was only able to do this because of the balance and adjustments that Wasserman supports. Not only through the services they offer, but also the “vibe” in the office. Everyone is supportive, collaborative and willing to lean in and adapt to be successful.

Having that type of employer makes all the difference, who are willing to help you make those adjustments, and indeed make those adjustments themselves.

Of course there are some things, that your employee can’t do. They can’t stop your kids from having a terrible night’s sleep before the big pitch the next day. They can’t stop them from being sick at nursery. They can’t make the trains run on time so that you get back in time for the school run or make them get dressed quicker in the morning.

But by surrounding yourself with inspirational people, having that support network of other parents at the office (shout out to the WasserMUMs!) and taking the time for YOU, then the adjustments don’t feel as daunting.

Jen Tramin WassermanAbout the author

Jen Traiman is Senior Account Director at Wasserman, where she heads up the BMW and MINI accounts, where she leads on events, partnership, strategy, and talent through relationship building. She has been at Wasserman since 2017.

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