In the first of our “Been There, Done That” series — where parents who had their children before they were 25 talk about what they learned — Sophie, now 28, tells us how standing up for herself at work made her more productive, happier and less stressed as a parent.
#BeBoldForChange was the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. But what does it actually mean to me? To me it’s about standing up for your rights and what you believe in.
As a working young mum, I need to have flexibility so I can juggle both my work life and home life without having to give up either one.
When I started working while looking after a 10 months old baby and a toddler, I was filled with guilt.
Am I going to be labelled a ‘part-time mother’ because of my full-time work? How am I going to spend time with my babies if work needs me 9-5 with an hour of travelling each way?
Are my kids going to be those kids at a school play with sad faces while other kids are waving excitedly at their parents?
Thankfully, through twitter, I saw other parents talking about flexible working.
I found out that all employers are required to offer flexible working, but you are the one who will need to do the legwork. Employers often avoid telling you about flexible working!
So after doing my research, I found out about the different options of flexible working, from going part-time to doing the full working week hours in just 3 or 4 days.
And more importantly, I found out that I have the right to ask for flexible working.
And that if my employer did refuse it, depending on the circumstances, it could be seen as discrimination.
To be honest, the idea of flexible working to me was leaving an hour early on certain days because of the kids and making the hours up later that week, or extending my lunch hour so I can accommodate my campaigning work.
So off I marched to my line manager and I asked about the possibility of flexibility in my job.
I was dreading it thinking it was going to affect my appraisal, but my line manager was more than happy for me to leave early whenever I needed and to my surprise, I didn’t need to make up my hours as long as it didn’t affect my work or my fellow colleagues!
It was easier than I thought.
Following that, in each job that I’ve had, I have always asked about flexible working and I have been fortunate because it has always been easily agreed.
Now I find I can juggle my working life, student life, personal life and volunteer life without feeling guilty.
But most importantly, I feel more productive at work, happier and less stressed because I’m able to enjoy precious times with my children.
I have never missed one play, special meeting or tea party!
More information about flexible working
I would encourage anyone who needs it to be bold for change and consider asking about flexible working. It may not be as easy for you as it all depends on the employer, so here is some more information and guidance about preparing for asking about flexible working:
- Preparing for the discussion about flexible working with your employer.
- How to make a request for flexible working.
Sophie’s blog was first published on Young Women’s Trust in March 2017.
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More advice on work from young mums like Sophie
Young student parent Richelle tells us about the ups and downs of her journey and gives her advice on how to manage your priorities — read what Richelle says in the video here.
Read more advice from young mums by clicking below: