Balancing a career and being a parent
- Posted on September 12, 2019
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
I am a working parent to three children aged 12, 10 and 9. I have been with Avanade for just over 14 years and had each of my children whilst working here. You could definitely say my children are orange on the inside!
Making the decision to carry on working after having the children was not difficult, like many couples my husband and I had just bought and renovated our first house and we needed both incomes. Added to that, having spent several years qualifying as a solicitor I was keen not to let my qualification lapse. Avanade was very supportive during my three maternity leaves and this had a lasting and positive impact on me. I was also fortunate in my role to be able to return to work on a flexible working arrangement which allowed me to juggle the logistics of a growing family with my job.
This all seems so normal today and when I was thinking about what to write in this piece, I struggled to identify why this could even be a topic of note. Yet when I talked to my mum about this recently, she reminded me that in 1973 when she went back to her job as a secondary school teacher, it was not all that common for women to return to work after having a child. There was possibly even some societal disapproval too. It surprised me to learn that it was only in 1975 that the Employment Protection Act made it illegal in the United Kingdom to fire a woman due to pregnancy, and since then numerous laws have been introduced to protect the rights of both male and female parents in the workplace.
Employers that create an environment that is accommodating of working parents and understand the challenges that we sometimes face, as Avanade does, ultimately gain by retaining invested and experienced employees. Given that around half the working age population are women and a large proportion of the overall working age population will be parents at any given time, to ignore the needs of this group would be short sighted. Avanade provides a range of benefits and support to working parents including adoption assistance, maternity and paternity leave, private medical insurance cover for dependents at corporate rates and access to flexible working arrangements.
What I have learned being a working parent is that organisation, coordination (especially with my husband!) and a degree of flexibility are key. Being able to pull off three World Book Day costumes and a client meeting in one morning can be rewarding! I have also learned that working flexibly means being flexible in return, sometimes an evening meeting will be scheduled at the same time as the children’s swim training and that needs to be accommodated. At times it has felt unworkable, especially when the children reached school age (they get how much holiday?!) but like any challenge, I took it head on and found a resolution. Having a highly supportive Career Advisor throughout has also had a huge influence on this experience.
My children are older now than when I first started on this journey and are gradually becoming more independent. The days of rallying around southeast London dropping to a childminder and two school locations before arriving slightly disheveled at my desk are numbered; my eldest takes the bus now! I hope in my own role as a Career Advisor to four working parents both male and female, that I am able to pay this experience forward like Avanade did for me.