Our guest blogger, Julie-Ann Murphy is the author of http://www.supermummy.co.uk/
"I’m not really a super mummy, but I strive to be and hey, I hope my two little ones and their Daddy think I am…my life is a daily balancing act between the career ladder, the naughty step and the ever growing laundry pile….and I wouldn’t have it any other way"
My mum always said for a bright girl, I had no common sense. She still says this and I’m 33 and a third. I was one of these children who asked ‘Why’ on a fairly regular basis, such was my thirst to know everything and learn all I could. This keenness to learn has grown with me into adult hood, and once finishing my first degree at University, I found myself returning for another, but with the added challenge of working full time in a graduate trainee position with a large financial services company.
If there was the opportunity to attend a training course at work – I’d be on it, with a front row seat and an annoying eager beaver look about me. I’ve covered a range of management modules, behavioural skills (or touchy-feely kinda training) right through to the very staid and serious (but hugely valuable in a previous role) Financial Planning Certificates and ISA, PEP and OEIC Administration qualifications. I submitted my final year dissertation for my MBA when I was seven months pregnant with my eldest daughter.
Three months later I couldn’t join my fellow grads at the graduation ceremony as I was somewhere in the middle of sleep deprivation and hormone induced crying that came with just having given birth. I recall the day my certificate came through in the mail – I gave it nothing more than a cursory glance, gave myself a mental pat on the back and got back to changing the eighth nappy of the day – and it wasn’t even lunchtime.
Five years on and I’ve changed jobs twice and had another period of maternity leave having thrown another little one into the equation. Today, my life is a daily balancing act between the career ladder and the naughty step. I’m a firm believer that despite being a parent to two young children, a supportive wife to my husband who has an equally stretching career, and runs his own web design business to boot, I can also have a career. Not just a job – but a fully fledged, career which has a sideways or upwards trajectory, depending upon where I want to take it. And it is entirely up to me.
By laying the foundations and undertaking study, I’d already worked my way into roles that allowed me to return to work after starting a family, and pick up where I left off. Doors that would otherwise have closed have remained open; such was the strength of my CV. I’ve read many an article that devotes attention to the difficulties women have in getting back into the workplace following periods of maternity leave, or longer term career breaks whilst they raise their family.
My desire to learn and continue to grow has helped greatly in demonstrating to my current and previous employers, that I’m no less committed to my career because I have child rearing responsibilities too. I recall well the interview I had when recruited to my current organisation, I was asked extensively about my on-the-job experience, my previous studies and qualifications then I was hit with ‘What personal development have you undertaken in the last year?’
Erm....I had a 13 month old daughter and my last year had been spent in the main, in the family home, up to my elbows in pureed foods, soft cloth books and singing fifteen renditions of The Wheels on the Bus per day. So, I decided to be honest in my reply – I had undertaken the most intense personal development I possibly could without the aid of a textbooks, course materials and essay deadlines. I’d learned all about putting a little one before myself, dealing with ambiguity (she’s crying because she’s hungry, no she’s crying because she is wet, no she’s crying because she has wind, she’s crying and I don’t know why – deal with it!) I mastered the art of effective time management and organisational skills, who knew four hourly feeding schedules, could be so demanding?
But what I did say clearly impressed, and since then I’ve been able to demonstrate that the vast range of skills I’ve developed on-the-job as a parent, coupled with my education, training and commitment to continue to develop and grow, are a powerful combination in allowing me to position myself as a valued employee.
Even if I do occasionally attend meetings with Fireman Sam stickers stuck to the back of my skirt!
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