This weeks real mama profile is single mum Courtney. Her journey started early and with some great support and early planning her journey is a true success story. This is Courtney’s story;
Can you give us an overview of your working mum journey to now?
My working mum journey started the week I realised I was pregnant with my daughter. I had just commenced work with a new employer in a position that I was billing as my dream job. Of course, the timing meant that, when the time came, I wasn’t going to be eligible for maternity leave given I hadn’t been working with them for twelve months prior to wanting to take leave.
There were certainly some stressful times going through the overwhelming journey that is a first pregnancy while also trying ensure that I was in a financially comfortable situation and also keeping my career on track. Prior to becoming pregnant my major focus had very much been my career in publishing. I was active in professional development, had completed extensive higher education, and was always on the look-out for the next opportunity. On becoming pregnant, and faced with the prospect of unemployment, there was definitely some anxiety about the ‘new’ path that I found myself on. Not only were the financial implications scary, but I also didn’t want to lose the career I had worked so hard to build, which was gaining steady momentum. I wanted the best of both worlds – to keep my career while experiencing the joys (and challenges!) of motherhood.
Fear led me to consider taking no maternity leave at all, and simply returning back to work immediately after giving birth (when you’ve never been through childbirth or having a newborn to care for this seems like a realistic option). Thankfully I had some wiser heads by my side who made me see that this wasn’t the safest or healthiest option for me or for my bub. It was around this time, at around 30 weeks pregnant, that I made the decision to start my own freelancing business. Working in the publishing industry thankfully allowed me this option and meant that I could work from home while still being with my daughter.
Funnily enough it was at this time that I really started to see all of my hard work start to pay off. Once I started putting out the ‘freelance feelers’ to previous contacts and clients, I was pleasantly surprised that so many wanted to work with me, including my then-employer who were invaluable in helping me by contracting out some major publishing management projects.
I finished in-office work at 38 weeks pregnant and started freelancing the next day. I remember answering emails and text messages with colleagues and clients while I was in labour, and was back online two days after Noelle (my daughter) was born.
It wasn’t how I had imagined my motherhood journey beginning, and there have been times when I’ve looked at friends and family working as stay-at-home-mums with envy, but trading in my stilettos (at least temporarily) for ugg boots, and serving my morning latte with a side of baby formula and poopy nappies, with laptop constantly in tow quickly became the new normal, and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved over the last 16 months. I’ve had and continue to have incredible help from my family, particularly my mum, which allowed me to focus on work as was needed while also having quality time with Noelle.
Again, the hard work and the sacrifice has paid off. I’ve recently returned to in-office work with the same employer that I had just joined when I found out I was pregnant and am working in-office three days a week as their Publishing Manager.
What is the one tip or trick you can give to a working mum that has worked for you?
From an operations perspective, time management tools have been invaluable for me. You’ll be busier than you’ve ever been and it’s so easy for something to slip through the cracks. Find a program that works for you to help you keep track of your days. I use free software called Asana. From a personal perspective, take a nap. Your health and rest are so important, and sometimes you just need to take a timeout and take a nap when you can. It’s amazing how manageable things seem after a quick powernap.
What advice would you give to new mums just starting their juggling journey?
Believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to take a (calculated) risk, know your limits and ask for help. Also work with an employer that values your work and understands that you have another, more important priority waiting at home. I’ve also made a point of staying offline entirely when I’m spending quality time with Noelle. Hard work is important but so is meaningful time with your child.
What do you love about being a working mum?
I love that I have been able to retain parts of my own identity, and have been able to keep my career on track while also having something much bigger to focus on. I find that working now is very focused and I have a whole new purpose—I’m working not only to build a career for myself, but to build a life for my daughter.