Think it’s impossible to be the perfect parent and the perfect employee? Take a crash course from a new generation of Mobile Mums who have great jobs and still spend quality time with the kids.
Cathy Jamieson is the Public Relations Manager in Australia for one of the largest companies in the world – Microsoft. As part of her daily role she is constantly liaising with the media and different marketing agencies to help launch Microsoft products and services. With a two-year-old toddler, and being five months pregnant, Cathy is an expert on balancing her work and family life.
SheSaid: How do you make your work schedule fit into your family life?
CJ: Work / life balance is an interesting thing; it requires flexibility from your employer and the ability to take work with you wherever you go. With a young child and another on the way, I couldn’t complete all my tasks without being able to access email and documents when away from my desk. Having a Smartphone is great – I can use it as a regular mobile to make calls but also as a mini-PC. The best part is it fits in my handbag so I don’t have to drag a laptop – and often small child – around with me.
SheSaid: How has using a Smartphone mobile device given you more freedom at work?
CJ: All the programs are the same ones I use on my office PC – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint… I can easily open up an email while in a cab to the airport, or even in the supermarket for example. If I need to edit documents and email them back, I can do it all using the Smartphone. I can access MSN Messenger, Hotmail or Yahoo and popular search pages. When my little boy Archie is sick and I’m stuck in a doctor’s waiting room, I can easily get across my actions for the day without needing my laptop. If I’m in meetings and someone sends me an urgent message, it’s easy to quickly respond.
SheSaid: How do you juggle being a mum with such a demanding job?
CJ: It certainly has been a challenge, but Microsoft gives us all we need to make our working lives easier – a good proportion of its local employees are mums. Lots of my friends with kids work part time, but for me that wasn’t an option as public relations can be very demanding. I’m lucky to really enjoy what I do, so don’t mind working from home to get things done… and my husband is very supportive, which makes a world of difference too.
SheSaid: Has being a mum changed your perspective on work?
CJ: Everyone says you can’t understand the demands of being a mum until you have a child. This is SO true and when you continue to work you have added time pressures and challenges. For me, returning to work was a bittersweet experience. On the one hand I was looking forward to the challenges and excitement my role at Microsoft provides, and on the other hand I didn’t want to leave Archie and jeopardise the strong bond that we’d developed. The biggest down side to returning to work is giving up time spent with your child. With the birth of my next baby, it will be a rewarding change to be back at home, but I know I’ll be looking forward to work again.
SheSaid: What are the golden rules to follow so you can switch off from the office and focus on family time?
CJ: When I know I’m going away on holidays I try to leave work behind, but sometimes it’s hard to resist checking my emails and returning calls. I’ve found following these five guidelines helps to manage my time:
1. Agree to blocks of time, as to when you are contactable, with your staff and employer before going on holidays. Outside these designated times focus on family and holiday activities.
2. Turn off the email function at certain times of the day – if you are needed urgently the phone will ring.
3. Clear the inbox and answer emails when children are in bed sleeping, I find after 8pm is best.
4. Switch the mobile off when devoting time to your family.