Family vs Career
13 years ago I finished my studies, fresh and enthusiastic about commencing my professional career. Recruitment was the profession I was embarking upon and was determined to succeed!
Fast forward six years and I found myself well on the way to achieving all my career goals; I had established my career within recruitment, created a business and brand (elle belle recruitment) and recruited a fantastic team with a common goal. Personally, everything was perfect as well; married, house, dog and baby on the way! The reality was upon me and I knew a decision had to be made – career or family!
I wanted and still want both! I don’t think I chose one or the other but instead changed and adapted my work habits. As a small business owner I didn’t take maternity leave for either of my children, instead called the office the day of the birth to advice I wasn’t going to be in as I was having a baby that day! Then returned to work a week later with a baby in tow! As a result of my decision, I was subject to a lot of negativity and felt a lot of guilt personally. The guilt I personally felt and the negativity from many towards me and my decision at the time was very apparent. Everyone’s decision is personal and options and flexibility in the workplace will allow parents to make this decision easier. I was (and am still) very fortunate that my husband worked as a consultant and took on the role as ‘stay at home dad’. This has allowed me to be more flexible with work and I have reduced my hours to ensure I have a balance of work and family.
I constantly hear stories from mums and successful business women about the struggle faced when it comes to work and family. The issues faced are;
- When to have children (should I establish my career first)?
- How long to take off for maternity leave?
- Inflexibility or employers upon returning to the workforce
- Reduced career development opportunities based upon children/family
Recently it was reported that Google in America were offering female staff the option of freezing their eggs. Although this seems like a strange option, it may be one way to increase staff loyalty and commitment, whilst offering ‘mum’s to be’ the ability to establish their career before they embark on the life changing journey of having children.
I am very fortunate to be in a position that allows me to be a successful businesswoman and manage a recruitment firm, as well as being a devoted mum. Life is undoubtedly busy and a constant juggling act but I wouldn’t change a thing! I strongly believe employers need to be more flexible, accommodating and empathetic to employees with young families. Great flexibility will create greater efficient and loyal employees. I think it’s important for everyone to remember you don’t have to make that hard decision of family or career. There are options and with a bit of flexibility you can have both.
Written by Linda Lewin