Muminthecity's blog

MumintheCity is a working Mum who works for a large multi national company in a very demanding, full time role. She is also a part-time writer and blogger, sometimes gig-goer, full-time appreciator of music, as well as being a dutiful wifesisterdaughterfriend. You can tweet her @MumintheCity_

Was it Worth it?

Posted on February 27, 2012 by Muminthecity | Comments (21)

I’ve just come back from a week's holiday from work. Despite advising all and sundry of my few day's absence, spending lots of time to prepare for my absence and leaving meticulous notes for my "cover", I still came back to a mountain of emails, meetings and work requests.

By Monday lunchtime I was just about raising my head above the parapet, when I was landed with prep for an important Board meeting mid-week and down the ladder I went to sit firmly in Square One again!

I found myself wondering if my few days away from the office were really worth all the pain and suffering (slight exaggeration) I was now experiencing and wondered was there anything else I could have done to prepare for my absence.

I'm going away for 3 weeks in April and quite frankly am dreading to what I'll come back to...

Is this the price I have to pay for having half term off to spend quality time with my son? I'm wondering how other cope and what your experiences are. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!

MumintheCity_ (Feb-12)

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Posted in Juggle mummy!, Mummy and working

Is Your Company Bendy?

Posted on February 8, 2012 by Muminthecity | Comments (0)

The recent spate of bad weather reminded me of how lucky I am to work for an organisation which promotes flexible working.

But what does flexible working mean to you? I work ‘full time’ ie 40 hours (and the rest!) per week, so for me it’s working around a core set of hours which are both beneficial to me and for my company.  In practice this means that I can usually drop my child off in the mornings at school, and on occasion, do the pick up.  As long as I put the hours in, no-one minds.

My company also offers the ability to work from home.  This is great as I don’t have to take a precious day’s holiday to wait in for the gas man, deliveries, etc and I can work without constant interruptions from passing colleagues.  As I write there is a commotion going on around the coffee machine which is quite frankly, very distracting!  So the ‘facility’ to work from home on occasion is invaluable to me.

However before you can effectively work from home you have to do a bit of preparation.  The practicalities of working from home are resolved by logging into a virtual private network (set up by my company beforehand) and relying my mobile phone.  It’s as good as, if not better, than being in the office; I have access to 99% of the systems I would use in the office and I can drink coffee that doesn’t taste like ground tar, which has got to be a major plus in anyone’s book!

So how frequently do I work from home?  Well, apart from working at home for when it suits my personal life (deliveries, being on hand for child-related issues, and having to be home to get ready for that important night out etc) I opt do this from time to time mostly in order to undertake parts of my job that require peace and quiet, and total concentration.  I find that my working from home days are often the most productive in terms of getting the best value from me.  There are no distractions to talk of (the TV and radio stay firmly switched off!)  As long as the job gets done, my boss is happy.  I like to show my face in the offices I work in each week so they don’t forget who I am, and my desk doesn’t get farmed out to every passing peripatetic colleague and claimed as their own!  As with life, it’s all a matter of balance.

I also set myself a few ground rules;

get dressed… slobbing around in PJ’s all day is not going to put me in the right frame of mind for writing that business critical report.  Compartmentalising the different parts of my life really does have a psychological effect I find, and the more the lines of them are blurred into one mad disorganised mess, the less effective I am going to be.

do not turn on the TV or radio… as tempting as watching Phil and Holly discuss the merits of the A-line versus the pencil skirt are, once you get sucked into being easily distracted, that “ten minute break” you promised yourself, quickly turns into an hour, as Gino lures you into how best to make a fat-free, low-cal, chocolate cake…..

prepare for working at home… Before you leave the office, forward your office desk phone to your mobile, or leave a message indicating that you’re working at home and leave the number you can be contacted on.  Be accessible otherwise people will just think you’re skiving!

Try to mirror your office set up as much as you can… I may be sat at the kitchen table, but I try to ensure I have my laptop, phone, necessary paperwork/files/memory stick, stationery and other officey-type accoutrements to hand otherwise I’ll get bogged down in the minutiae of not having them and consequently be really miffed myself for not having them.

As a result of this flexibility, being mindful of business Vs personal objectives, and a few simple ground rules, I’m likely to be more productive and less stressy because I’m working in a way which gets the best out of me.  Compromises are few, pennies are saved in the lack of commuting, and work production is high.  What’s not to love!?

MumintheCity_ (Feb-12)

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Posted in Flexible working

Back to Work Blues

Posted on April 6, 2011 by Muminthecity | Comments (1)

This week I started a new, full time, job.  It seemed like a great idea at the time; I believed it was just what I was looking for – local to where I live so no long commute, a big company (which is what I’ve been used to working for), in an business sector which interested me, and the content of the job was challenging enough to be interesting, but not so much that I was going to be out of my comfort zone.

However, a day before my start date I was told that it had been put back a day, and I was also advised I’d be spending the first couple of days in London.  That was OK.  I could deal with that, as my hubby was working nights and therefore around during the day to drop and pick up my son from school.

A day later I subsequently found out that the agency hadn’t quite given me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my salary.  It kind of took the shine off the situation.  I was due to start work the next day, and I seriously considered doing something which I have never done before… pulling out of the job before I’d even started.  I felt “had over” by the agency, but decided that for the sake of my professional pride let alone anything else, that I had to at least give it a chance.

So on the day in question I went into Central London to start my Induction.  However during the course of the day I was told by new employers that they expected me to work 08.30-18.00, and not 09.00-17.00 as I’d been told by the agency, this added fuel to the fire and further doubt in my mind.

The days itself went well.  I was shown round the immense building where all the corridors looked the same, introduced to a plethora of people who’s names I knew I wouldn’t remember, and given so much new information, I developed a headache.  To say I wasn’t as enthusiastic as when I was offered the job was an understatement.  So by the time I left the office at twenty to 6, I felt dead on my feet, seriously regretting my choice of footwear, and couldn’t wait to get home.  The commute home was, as to be expected at that time of the day, a living hell.  I couldn’t physically get on a tube train for 5 trains, which meant that by the time I got to the train station time was pressing on.  Luckily I managed to catch the required train with a minute to go.  Someone must be looking down on me!!  The train finally rolled in at 7.15pm and I wearily got though the door soon after as my hubby came to collect me from the station, with my little boy in the back in his pajamas, ready for bed.  I felt guilty as hell and further doubts started to creep in about what a bad mother I was being, believing myself to be selfish.  Talk about beating myself up?!

The minute we walked through the door the bedtime ritual of story time started, whilst my hubby cooked dinner.  I changed out of my work clothes and came downstairs, eating my dinner at 8pm.  At half past, my hubby went to work and I went to bed, physically exhausted and wondering what to do about my situation.  Should I stay (pro’s; it was a wonderful opportunity, would be mostly local, the extra money would come in very useful, and the job has the possibility of being more long term if it all works out.  Con’s; Having to go into London weekly, how were school holidays going to be dealt with, the hours and how it would affect the family, motherly guilt, and overall massive recriminations)

I slept like a log, which is unusual when hubby is working nights as I’m usually so restless.  My son woke up at 5am which meant that I was also up at this time.  The plan was for my hubby to get in from work around 6.30am, have breakfast together, and then drop me off at the station at 8am to get in for 9.30am, and then drop my son off at school.  By 7.30am there was still no sign of hubby as he’d been delayed.  I was mentally making a Plan B about dropping my son off with a friend and rushing myself to the station when hubby finally turned up.  Luckily I’d had the foresight to buy a train ticket the evening before, avoiding the massive queue that had formed and which would have delayed me still further.  I caught the 8.03 train and was walking through the office door at 09.15!

Friday went much better than Thursday.  I met the senior Director that I was going to be working for and had a chat with her about hours (amongst other things).  I’d decided to approach the subject on the basis that I had been advised the hours of 9-5 by the agency and planned my childcare around this.  If she was anti-working Mums then I wouldn’t want to be in the job working for someone with that attitude anyway.  Not that I expect special treatment… just some empathy and understanding.  She was totally fine about it, asked about my son and told me she has an 18 month old little girl. The subject was quickly dealt with and I was worrying over nothing it seems!

I had a good day on Friday, left the office at 5pm and arrived at our local station at 6pm (the wonders of catching the fast train and the difference it makes!)  I can cope with that!!  I start at my office base on Monday so it will be a whole new set of buildings and people to get used to, but having a little knowledge about the set up in the London office, I feel confident that things are going to be OK….. Moral of the Story – nothing is as bad as it may first seem.  Monday?  Bring it on!!

Posted in First time mummy, Juggle mummy!