Before children, I was a hard working, dedicated and loyal employee. I enjoyed my job and thrived on the challenges it provided. I kept my professional knowledge up to date and I actively looked for more courses that would develop my skill set. I knew that I wanted to climb the career ladder and be important and respected within my chosen profession. Then I had children. I returned to work and very quickly learned that what I had previously thought about my work ethic and aspirations had to change. I felt like a nuisance employee, one who relied heavily on others as they had to pick up my workload when I had to leave early due to childcare issues, I couldn’t take on the big projects as I now worked part time and therefore I wasn’t dedicated to the company, my priorities lay elsewhere and I just wasn’t part of the team anymore. I no longer dreamt about making it to the top, if I actually ever had time to dream it was to just get through the day, week, year and survive. My view of work changed, I changed, and ultimately, I was miserable. I was cross at myself for being miserable as I had always wanted children and that having to sacrifice my career was something that happened when you had children. I just had to get through this time and then when the kids were grown up I would have my time again.
Time did just carry on and I went on to have my second child. During my maternity leave however I got made redundant which filled me with fear and anxiety as who would take on a mother of 2 when they didn’t know me. I used to be dedicated and reliable, full of ambition, but I was now inexperienced, flaky and incapable of learning new skills as I was permanently exhausted. I surprised myself by managing to secure a new position but I felt respondent to the fact that I would start in my new role as the nuisance employee. When I started however the response was completely different. I felt welcomed and part of a team, I provided worth to the team and the new skills I had learnt since being a mum were valuable to my new found responsibility. As a result, I thrived and got promoted quickly. I learnt that I had been miserable previously, not because I had become a mum, but because I couldn’t be the working mum that I wanted to be. I was interested in what I was doing, and therefore I was enthusiastic and dedicated to my role. All the characteristics I thought I had lost or had to change were still there. I hadn’t changed at all, in fact, I was much more enthusiastic, I was fiercely loyal and dedicated and I learnt that it was the environment that I had been in previously that had altered my perception and I had just moulded myself into the expectations of that workplace. Yes there were still times that I had to leave early to pick the children up, or I couldn’t come into work as they were poorly, but I more than made up the time I had lost by working in my own time, longer hours when I could and taking work home, but I also knew how to be me and be part of my family which made me a much more rounded employee as I wasn’t working myself into the ground. I became more creative with my time as I knew that I couldn’t continue to be the 9-5 employee, I was focused on the project that I had to complete as I didn’t have time to get involved in the office politics or to have long chats over the water cooler. I was still involved and part of the team, but the dedication that I was providing to myself to be able to work and be a mum shone through. I managed my time to be able to be the employee and mother that I truly wanted.
The difference that the culture of a workplace made to me was huge, by working for someone who valued me, I then valued them and tried hard to succeed as this is what they expected of me. Yes I had children who were my priority, but that didn’t need to change me and my work ethic. My focus as a working parent intensified as I knew that I had limited time in the workplace so my efficiency improved, my assertiveness improved and my confidence improved. Even with children, I hadn’t changed, I was still a hardworking, dedicated and loyal employee.
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