Role models wanted

Work - Life Balance Image

As I sat down at my desk this morning and settled into reading the post maternity coaching materials that popped into my inbox asking me to think of three women I know who are great role models, I realised something quite profound. I can’t name three role models. In fact, I can’t even name one. Of course you can always call on the Sheryl Sandberg’s and Oprah’s of the world, yada, yada, yada. But these aren’t people I actually know. These aren’t people who I can actually emulate and model myself on. These aren’t people I can talk to and ask questions. This is a problem.

I have been at my current organisation for over four years, and whilst I have been here I have met and made the acquaintance of some lovely and rather fantastic women, some of whom I now call friends. Yet in all those years, I have never come across anyone that I have ever considered role model material – either as a successful woman in leadership or more importantly now, as a working mother. There are plenty of women doing well, women who are respected. But would I say they are role models, no. Because despite my organisation introducing and supporting various working parent initiatives and enabling true flexible working (it does exist!), I have not seen any women demonstrating that it is possible to have and do it all. By that I mean, be amazing at what they do and still have the time to see and spend time with their families. Of course there are plenty of working parents in my organisation, but all too often the ones that are staying at the top of their game are the same ones I have seen still sitting in the office or online beyond the hours of what would be considered bedtime for most children. I was horrified to hear not so long ago of a considerably senior woman in my department who completely overlooked her young daughters birthday and tried to arrange a client meeting on that day, only to be reminded by a colleague as to why that date probably wouldn’t work for her. I don’t want that for myself or my family. I want to be successful and respected at work, but not at the expense of quality time with my family. So it’s a bit of a conundrum, which actually led me to my very recent decision to leave an organisation that I really do love being a part of. It’s not their fault, they really have tried to enable and empower working parents. The problem I believe actually lies in the culture and fabric of Consulting. An environment which lends itself to and favours young, carefree, childless 20 something’s. I’m not saying that you can’t be a family orientated 30 something person. You can. Just don’t expect to be home for bedtime if you want to get ahead. Consulting is a world where clients expect and demand the best, at all times, and rightly so. Sometimes that means working very long days to deliver. Sometimes it means working away from home for days, weeks or months on end. Sometimes it means making and changing plans at a moments notice. Flexible and adaptable are our middle names. All these things that sounded so glamorous and exciting when I started out are the very things that terrify me now that I have a family.

Now I understand why there are so few women at leadership level in some organisations. Because certain types of careers and families just don’t mix. I am expecting a move back into Banking will be almost, if not equally as demanding as Consulting is. But I need that, because I am one of those crazy career driven women that wants and needs to work. But I move in the hope of achieving the holy grail of work life balance, and of course of finding some role models along the way, because goodness, us working mums need them!

Did this post resonate for you? I would love to hear from you if so!

Like what you read? Hit follow to subscribe and get all posts straight to your inbox.

 

photo credit: Tanja FÖHR via photopin cc

The milk is gone..

20140624-145906-53946503.jpg

Its official. We have stopped breastfeeding. The milk has gone.. After five consecutive nights without a dream or night feed our breastfeeding journey came to an end back in May. Interestingly it wasn’t anywhere as traumatic, difficult or emotional as I thought it would be. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Easy almost. Dropping one feed, then another, and another, gradually transitioning from breastfeeds to formula feeds. Three weeks on and we had gone from exclusively breastfeeding to exclusively formula feeding, with no fuss from the little lady and no discomfort for me. No leaks, no engorgement. Nothing. It felt comfortable (figuratively and literally), natural and most importantly it felt right for both the little lady and I. What surprised me the most though, is how easily the little lady took to formula feeds. After her rejection of expressed milk from a bottle in her early months I was expecting some degree of resistance to the move to formula, but there was nothing. She happily accepted formula feeds as soon as I introduced them which made the whole process a lot easier and a lot less emotional.

Stopping breastfeeding is something that I was expecting to be difficult. I had considered stopping before, but when it came to the crunch I wasn’t ready. The thought of it was fine, but the reality of stopping was too hard. Too emotional. Too personal. But this time round it just happened, much without me thinking about it after realising that the return to work was looming on the horizon.

Two months on and it feels like we were breastfeeding a million years ago. You forget how quickly things move on with a little one. But in the moment things always seem like so much more than they are. Hours can feel like days, days like weeks and weeks like months. The smallest things can consume you without you realising it. I can barely remember how those early days of breastfeeding felt, a journey that I never imagined would last so long. A journey that I wasnt even sure would begin. A journey that was almost cut short. But a journey that I am so glad we made.

photo credit: Auntie P via photopin cc

Independent little lady

Applause Please

Something has happened over the last three nights that I have daren’t to speak openly about for fear of tempting fate. The little lady has slept in her own cot, in her own room through the night, not once, not twice, but three nights in a row *cue applause*.

Whilst the little lady has slept through the night since she was about five months, a lot of it has been a co-sleeping affair with her flitting between her bed and ours. I got to the point recently where I started to wonder if she would ever get to the stage where she felt secure enough and confident enough to sleep on her own all the night through. Like a mirage, I started to daydream about waking up in the morning to find the little lady standing in her cot in the nursery waiting for me to pick her up. Surprisingly though, like everything else it has happened just like that. Overnight. Although it wasn’t quite as fluffy as my mirage. For one, the first morning it happened I felt like I’d been hit by a sledgehammer as a result of some very unbroken sleep from getting up to check on the little lady throughout the night, and secondly I didn’t even make it to the nursery, it was the husband who went and got her in the end. But I guess the point is that it happened. The strangest thing is however, that after months of wanting our bed back, the husband misses her and I don’t sleep as comfortably as I remember. I sleep lightly, up at every squeak from the little lady to check whether she’s ok, and when I do stumble back into bed, it just doesn’t feel as comfortable as it used to. So once again, something that we thought would be an adjustment for little lady actually turns out to be more of an adjustment for us parents.

There is nothing groundbreaking about this post. It isn’t supposed to be showy offy (I know those aren’t actually words) and in your face, although I realise it may be just a bit. I just wanted to share it with other parents out there who may be in a similar position with their little ones to show that sometimes (most of the time) these changes just happen. They don’t always need to be coerced, or stressful or upsetting. Sometimes patience can be rewarded with a happy, confident child who can and will sleep through the night independently at their will. I know this approach may not work for everyone, I know all children are different, but it worked for us and I think that is worth sharing.

After months of broken sleep, after months of sharing our bed, I feel like I can genuinely say it was all worth it. I didn’t plan to do it this way, but I’m glad we did.

I’d love to hear from others who can relate to this experience – are you a family that co-sleep, are you trying to figure out how to make that transition? Or have you already made that transition, how did it work for you, did it just happen or did you have to help things along?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42andpointless/8062417131/”>42andpointless</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;