I was feeding Poppy and trying to remove squashed peas from my sock the other night when I got a call from my colleague Dave,
“Hey Nicola, you coming out later? The whole team is going to be there?”
“Can you hang on Dave?” I muttered as Poppy flung pasta all over me. “Right? What were you saying?”
To cut a long story short, I had totally forgotten that the team at work were going out for a bonding night. There was no way I was going to make it…my hair was greasy, I was covered in food and more to the point, by the time Mr UFM was home from work, I’d managed to get ready and leave the house, I would have missed most of the fun anyway. Also, if truth be known I’d rather be at home snuggling with Poppy in front of CBeebies as I’d been working for most of the day.
This is just another example in an already lengthy list of work related events that I have had to/chosen to forego since having Poppy.
I was therefore very interested to read about CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn who in today’s papers is quoted as saying that “Working mothers who skip boozy dinners to see family don’t get top jobs because they can’t network to get ahead.”
She is so right and it’s very hard to know what can be done about it.
Many mothers, even the most career minded, find it very hard to find a work/child balance. Initially after the precious months of maternity leave, they find themselves wrenched from their child and forced into leaving him/her in a nursery or with a child minder. This can lead to feelings of guilt which are difficult to deal with. Even though there is an element of switching off from family life and becoming another person in the workplace, a mother will always feel that pull to leave the office and get home to her child on time.
So where does that leave time for anything else? So often I see a high-powered career woman getting to work super early, inhaling her lunch at her desk and working solidly without so much of a toilet break so that she can run out of the office at 5pm and dash to pick up her child. When is there time for the ‘all important’ office banter? The post work drinks? The networking? The hobnobbing with the people who count? The answer quite simply is that there isn’t and even though the office Mum might be working ten times harder than her childless counterparts, she often gets overlooked and suddenly she’s being overtaken in the workplace by those who don’t have the emotional and physical commitments that come with having a child. (Often we’re talking about the men).
I believe that mothers in the work place deserve more respect. Just because we have children and can’t always stay out until midnight getting drunk with our bosses, it doesn’t mean that we’re any less ambitious or able. Our careers are actually incredibly important to us which is why we work so damn hard to make sure we’re doing the very best that we can. This often means missing out on the fun but you won’t find us wasting our time on Facebook or rolling in bleary eyed in the morning. We’re more focused and more time efficient. In fact my instinct tells me that many of the “4 day a week” mums out there still get a darn sight more work done many of their less focused colleagues.
So bosses, next time you want to give someone a promotion don’t always consider the hungover guy who spent last night kissing your proverbial. Go for Superwoman (she’s the Mum who sits next to him).
Upfront Mama x