2017 seems to be shaping up to be the year of flexible working, with Mother Pukka's brilliant flex appeal and Digital mums pushing work that work on social media you can see the tide is changing. The headline on last weeks Stylist was about leaning back rather than leaning in.
As a business and mindset coach who specialises in working with mums the biggest challenge facing my clients is work / life balance.
Although increasing amounts of companies are embracing flexible working for a lot of mums and in a lot of industries it isn't delivering what mums want.
A lot of my clients are professional women who have spent years climbing the ladder and it seems in a lot of industries with seniority comes a lack of flexibility.
The dream for many of them is to work for personal fulfilment and financial reward but still be able to have time to spend with their children, on their relationship and on themselves.
The solution for many mums is to start up their own business. Mumprenuers have a lot of bad press (and personally I hate that word). I am not talking about mums making candles in their kitchen (although there is nothing wrong with this). I work with professional women who want to use their skills and experience to create successful businesses.
I understand the dilemma that mums face, I had an option to continue working full time and miss out on spending time with my children during the week (and be exhausted most weekends) or do something different. As a senior leader in a secondary school, flexible working doesn't exist.
During my first pregnancy I started to put the foundations in place for my business. I already used coaching a lot in my job and knew it was something I really enjoyed and was passionate about so I invested in training courses and started doing pro bono work.
I continued to develop my skills and experience but lacked the confidence to make the move and start up on my own. It was only through working with a coach that I was able to identify the beliefs and fears that had been holding me back and set up my business.
Working for yourself isn't an easy ride but it is a way that you can get flexibility. I still invest in child care three days a week so I can get the bulk of my work done and then I can focus on the kids the other days.
At any stage in your life starting up your own business is a risk but when you are a parent you have the added pressure on you to provide financially. I find this motivating and it keeps me focused.
When I first started I wasn't the best with boundaries, I remember breast feeding my youngest daughter as I was on the phone to a potential client and staying up until the early hours working on my strategy and marketing campaigns. It was a steep learning curve.
I learnt very quickly that I was putting unrealistic expectations and pressure on myself and if I wanted to have a proper work / life balance I had to learn to work smarter not just more.
I started working with a high performance coach and transformed the way that I worked, my routines and my priorities.
I learnt to focus on my self care, self development and well being as much as I did on the business and this has made me more successful than working all the hours that I could, it has also made me happier.
Finally I realised that working around your kids doesn't mean working in front of your kids. I am now have better boundaries and enjoy the time with my family more because of them. Having your two year old tell you that they were going to go and do "work" on their laptop is quite humbling.
In my work I help other mums create the work / life balance they desire. This means different things to different people - some mums start up a business in a similar field to their previous experience and work as a consultant earning similar amounts for a significantly reduced number of hours.
A lot of my mums choose to set up their own businesses so they can be in control of when and how they work. This has meant some of them don't have childcare as they balance around their partners work, or they can pick up and drop their kids from school.
Other mums choose more of a portfolio career where they work as a consultant or freelancer a couple of days a week and spend the rest of the time pursuing their passion be it dressmaking, art or photography.
The key to all of these is flexibility and building the lives that you want to live. For many the best solution is working for yourself as you can be in complete control and choose the hours that work best for you.
To find out how I can help you start up your own business email me at firstname.lastname@example.org