March 8, 2017
It’s 5.30pm and I’m running late for parents’ evening. Just over a year ago, I would be finishing a campaign plan or doing an afternoon news scan on Stateside media for newsjack opportunities.
But not today. Who knew that one-year-olds have parents’ evening too? Sitting in tiny little chairs at a tiny little table below knee height, we will discuss why it’s important to make the sounds that describe the words you’re saying. (Apparently, children can say ‘moo moo’ but not ‘cow’ – why they need the vocabulary for a conversation about cows is equally baffling.)
Life as a working parent is hectic, and that’s no surprise to anybody. Every day is a military operation. Wake up at 6am, get dressed, get out. We say hello to the neighbour’s dog and chase pigeons as we run for the bus. I was lucky enough to find a nursery next to the office, so that gives me an extra hour at work, providing my little girl hasn’t lost a shoe or a sock en route (something always goes missing!).
Like many new parents, returning to work can be stressful. But I take relief in having adult conversations and getting my brain back in gear – planning for my client’s next integrated campaign, learning about new measurement techniques and writing opinion articles about technology trends.
I even manage a hot cup of tea without having to shield myself from (puree) food fight. Going back to work means swapping childish conversation consisting of ‘goo goo gar gar’ with creative brainstorms and adult banter. Every so often, I tell them stories of my little one stealing Cheerios from other kids at nursery, and how she pronounces ‘ready’ like ‘teddy’ before she throws a ball.
At half past five, colleagues will be ushering me out of the door to make sure my little one is not left at the school gate twiddling her tiny thumbs. And that’s on top of my daily recurring calendar reminder… just in case!
Many parents face the dilemma of career versus childcare. There is no easy answer and people should be able to choose and do whatever fits their lifestyles. Companies that offer flexible working and support for career-driven parents will reap the benefits of a diverse workforce and hardworking individuals looking to succeed. But opportunities like these can be hard to come by, especially if you are looking for a new job having taken some time out of work.
I count myself lucky to be teaming up with colleagues who are understanding and diligent. Together, we celebrate mini-milestones each day – whether it’s an award-winning client campaign, media success with national coverage, birthdays and LEWISversaries, or that my little one has recently taken her first step independently.