How to find the ideal work-life balance after starting a family?

Students learning

Did you know that one in three Australian families report a disconnect between their work and family responsibilities? A study by La Trobe University's Judith Lumley Centre highlighted just how common it is for professionals across the country to struggle with balancing these two roles.

As a new mother, you probably have had a taste of how tricky it can be to find the right rhythm between the two worlds. There are always challenges, from making tough decisions about where to spend your time to dealing with unexpected calls from day care. Hence, we've spoken to Sarah Wallace from Progressive, a trading division of SThree in Sydney, Australia about her personal experience. Luckily as she would put it, these are some of her tried-and-true ways to make the balancing act of being a mum and a recruitment consultant a bit easier.

Be present

The best thing you can do for your career and your family is be 100 per cent present in everything you do. If you only have three hours between the end of work and your kids' bedtime, make the most of every minute. If you are only in the office three times a week, give those days everything you have. Being in two places at once isn't possible, embracing the one you're in is.

Stay organised

Being organised has without a doubt been the key to her success. Admittedly, it took a while to nail down what to organise and how, but once you get a system in place that works, it makes all the difference. She has learned to make meals in bulk and freeze them. In work she makes sure that she has a strict day plan in place to ensure that she gets everything done that needs to be done within work hours. All of this seems like small stuff but really has an impact on freeing up her time on work nights so that she still gets to spend some quality time with her daughter rather than having to cook or work. Her work from home days mean that she spends less time travelling into the office (which normally takes her about an hour each way) so it frees up a little more time for her to spend with her daughter. Basically, when she organises her time effectively she's free to commit all her energy to her work and family respectively.

Walk, don't run

When Sarah came back to the Progressive office after her maternity leave, she had to keep reminding herself, walk, don’t run and it helped that her managers supported this.  While it's fun to get back into the office and the swing of things, it's also a big change. There is an adjustment period when you get back into work initially and you need to respect that transitional phase. Don't pressure yourself into doing too much too fast.

Ditch the guilt

Working is a part of who she is. She's more than just a mother, but a professional too. The great thing is, there is room to be both. You can have a passion for your job and still be an excellent mother. While there may be days you feel guilty dropping your kids off at day care or missing a recital, it's important not to beat yourself up. Guilt helps no one.

Don't forget about yourself

It's important in the midst of this balancing act to find time for yourself. She makes an effort to schedule a girl’s night out at least once a month. She takes the time to go to the gym at least three times a week. These snippets of time that are free of responsibility are important. You don't want to stretch yourself too thin, avoid that by making yourself a priority every so often.

Find a workplace that values both

She mentioned that she has been lucky enough to work with a company that understands the need for balance. Progressive offers her flexible working arrangements that fit her needs. Her managers have kids themselves, so they understand the day-to-day challenges of being a parent and a professional. Whether it is flexi-hours or working from home, her team is always willing to find a solution that suits all of them. Having a workplace culture that embraces this balance has made all the difference for her career and her family.   

To learn more about working at Progressive (part of the SThree group), please visit the SThree Careers website. If you will like to receive insights on the IT industry that Progressive focuses on, please follow our LinkedIn page here.

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