Thursday, March 29, 2012

Practical advice and tips for supporting your partner at home

By Kate Sykes, CareerMums

Keeping your relationship strong in the early years of parenting can be challenging. In a landmark Australian study about families in the early stages of parenthood, it was found that by the time their babies were 18 months old, almost a quarter of the new parents reported that their marriage was in distress. An additional 12.5% were separated or divorced by this time. The extent of ‘genuinely shared’ parenting in Australian families hovered somewhere between 1-2%. Relationships Australia has a quiz on how your relationship rates.

More and more dads are doing a great job at sharing parental responsibilities. And they are keen to understand how they can better support their partners at home.

Here are some practical and common sense tips and advice to help support your partner while she is at home caring for the kids:
  • Put the shoe on the other foot - Consider how you would feel if your career was put on hold to be at home with a little baby. Women are having children later in life. They are used to working and earning an income. Being at home with a child is very different.
  • Help at night - Don't assume that you need more sleep because you need to get up and go to work. The workloads are the same. Often to get a cup of tea or do the nappy change furing the night. If you baby is being bottle fed, offer to take turns. It is a lovely part of the day to get to know your little one.
  • Your partner is still working - the difference is that she is no longer receiving an income for her work.
  • Being at home is not one big party - Don't assume that life at home involves trips to cafes, tennis and endless social gatherings. Her life is dictated by your child/childrens needs, not hers.
  • Praise her for her hard work - cleaning, caring, preparing dinner, ironing, washing, shopping and countless other domestic chores. In a work situation, you have a team assisting you and praising you for the work you do. At home, there is no one.
  • Don't argue about who works harder. Both of you need to be respectful of each other's roles in your new life together as parents.
  • Get home on time and early enough to help with (or take over) bathing and feeding. Talk to her about her day. It can sometimes be very lonely and isolating at home.
  • Prepare dinner once or twice each week. It is so easy to prepare in advance (on the weekend) a lasagne, casserole or curry.
  • Give her time to exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever and contributes to mental health.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of Post Natal Depression. It affects up to 30% of new mums. Don't ignore it. If you are concerned about your partner's health, seek advice from your doctor.
  • Tell her that you love her. And then do something to show it. For example, take her out for dinner, organise a facial or massage, or organise a weekend activity to get everyone out of the house.
Love, trust, respect, communication and sharing parental responsbilities will ensure a strong relationship that will endure the challenges and joys of parenting.

Technology Matters!

By Kate Sykes, CareerMums

Technology plays a big part in creating a more flexible workforce. Stop for a minute and think about technology as it was 10 years ago.

No YouTube. No facebook. No Twitter.
We had only just starting using email.
No iphones, Blackberries, or ipads.
We bought CDs to listen to music.
We had dial-up internet.
No webinars, skype or teleconferencing.
No kindles or ebooks.
No online banking.
No digital TVs where you can record shows and watch later or download shows from the internet.

You have to wonder how technology will challenge and influence our way of working in the next 10 years. It is so important to keep up to speed with changing technology in the workplace. if you are not confident with computers or technology, challenge yourself to go and learn. Or ask your children!

On another ( scary)note - Gen Z (1994-2004) are entering the workforce this year. And they only know technology!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Returning to work after 2.5 years

By Michelle from Sydney (and a CareerMums user)

"After 2 1/2 years out of the workforce and when your days are scheduled around parks, playdates and hanging out with other mums, the thought of being able to have an adult conversation, let alone one about your career can seem daunting to say the least. I was constantly scanning seek and job boards for the job which would allow me the all important "work/life balance" when a job on CareerMums jumped out as the perfect job for me. I applied and couldn't believe it when Kate rang and scheduled a telephone interview and was even more overjoyed when I got my first interview. Panic over what to wear set in but alas playgroup that morning involved my mum friends bringing various bags, shoes, and accessories so almost instantly I looked the part.

Kate was amazing at coaching me through what they might ask at interview and how although being at home with two kids may seem the ultimate in multi tasking, it is much more impressive talking to prospective employers about past work examples!

I was overwhelmed by reaching second interview stage but by this point, my confidence had improved and I felt focussed and hoped that I could impress the company as I really loved the sound of the job. When Kate called me to say they offered me the role I was literally jumping for joy.

However, as soon as the excitement past I was completely daunted by the juggling of work and my kids as my youngest was not in day care. Thankfully, my parents were here from the UK so they filled in in the interim but I phoned the entrire database of child care in the Inner West to no avail. My only option then was to try and find a Nanny, that in itself is hard trying to interview; the cost etc (as no rebate) so I couldn't believe it when a lovely daycare said they had a spot for both of my kids. They have just had their first induction today and they love it!!!

I am so happy that I have managed to find that work/life balance that I know now can exist. My parents live in the UK and my sister works full time. This in itself has always put me off trying to find a job, also that I wouldn't find a day care for my kids. However, all this aside I have to say to all Mum's out there you can work, juggle the kids, and what more for a reward than getting time to drink a coffee when it's hot and go to the loo uninterupted. Bliss."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Create your personal brand and watch your confidence take off

By Kate Sykes, CareerMums

What were you like before you had kids? How much have you changed?

No doubt we were all less responsible, more selfish, and thought we had never been more tired from a hard week at work.

Those were the days - LOL.

For most of us, work and who we worked for defined us, gave us a sense of confidence, and a sense of place in this world.

Fast forward to now. Kids. Responsibilities. Selflessness. And never been more tired.

And for many currently at home or between jobs, you are no longer defined by your employer, your work title, your team of colleagues, your stakeholders, your clients.

Without realising it, you have a wonderful opportunity to create your own brand and use it to take you back into the workplace.

At the core of your brand is the belief in yourself and your abilities. You are constantly looking for fresh and innovative opportunities. You are a role model for your children. You are able to adapt and change.

Start thinking about these things:
  • What drives you?
  • What excites you?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do other people in your network think you are good at?
  • What personal traits are important to you?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What aspect of yourself would you like to improve?
  • How do others perceive you?

Give yourself a colour and a name if you like. Maybe keep it to yourself though :)

By creating your own personal brand, you become a stronger and more confident candidate when returning to the workforce.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Negotiating flexibility with your employer

By Kate Sykes, CareerMums

I know this sounds daunting, but it is important for your family and your career.

The following steps below will give you a structured approach to negotiating flexible working arrangements with your employer:

Step 1: Know the facts

Know the facts. Request a copy of your organisation's Flexible Work Policy. There may also be a Telecommuting Policy. Refer to the 'right to request flexibility' law in the National Employment Standards ( Know your opportunties and limitations. Speak to other employees who are working flexibly. Find out how they negotiated their working arrangements.

Step 2: Create a Business Case Proposal

Next, prepare a business case proposal for your manager. A proposal provides formality to an arrangement and can be filed for review at a later date. Use the following questions as a guide to include in your business case proposal to work flexibly. Remember to solve any perceived problems that may arise:
  • Why do you need to work flexibly?
  • What type of flexible work arrangement are you proposing? So job share, part time, work from home arrangements etc. (give at least 2 variations in work patterns)
  • What would be the impact on your job responsibilities and tasks?
  • Can you recommend any solutions?
  • What will be the impact on your stakeholders i.e. customers, colleagues, etc.
  • What aspects of your role could be done from home?
  • Are there any costs or cost savings associated with this flexible work arrangement?
  • Why do you think you can work flexibly in an effective manner?
  • What measurement criteria can you propose to measure the success of the flexible work arrangement you are proposing?
Step 3: Talk to someone who can help you

Make an appointment with your manager of HR contact to discuss the option of working flexibly. Present him/her with your business case proposal. Treat it as a business transaction. Your objective is to make your manager comfortable with what you have proposed and to give him/her options.

Step 4: Making Flexibility Work

When your flexible work arrangement has been approved, consider the following tips:
  • Offer a 3-6 month trial period. You then have an opportunity to demonstrate how successful your working arrangement can be.
  • Determine what work will be done differently as a result fo the flexible work arrangement and communicate how it will work with your team, clients and other stakeholders.
  • Agree to a regular meeting with your manager to monitor the flexible work arrangement.
  • Keep a diary note of how things are going for the first 3-6 months. Identify what is working and what could be improved.
  • Seek feedback from team members and clients every 6 months and implement any suggested improvements.
  • Discuss any concerns that arise with your manager.

Get in touch if you have any questions.