Meet Maddie. She was made redundant just before starting maternity leave and her son was born very premature. It hasn’t held her back in any way and she still has big dreams of working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in an advisory capacity. For the moment though, she is focussing on her family life and caring for her two busy toddlers. We loved her organised and optimistic approach to life.
When I left work to start parental leave I felt…..
Excited as I had my first baby to meet, but also nervous as they had made my role redundant just before I was due to start maternity leave.
When I returned to work after parental leave I felt….
I was hoping to be able to return to work in some capacity, but my funding was cut and so my role was completely dissolved and I was made redundant before starting parental leave. It’s not new in my sector (Aboriginal law/health) as funding cuts always happen, but it was upsetting nonetheless.
What are your lessons from that redundancy experience and what advice do you have for others in the same position?
I was fortunate in that even though my role was made redundant, my husband and I had already decided that we would try to live off one salary until our kid(s) went to school, so it was not the kind of huge blow to our plans that it could have been. However, it still took away all feelings of security. I would have liked to have the option to consult from home down the track which totally evaporated once my role (and whole division at work was disbanded).
If I could go back and change anything about how I managed my career through parental leave, it would be….
I would have stayed in better contact with managers and key networks so that if I did want to return, it would have been easier with the connections still there. This however was also somewhat out of my control as two senior staff whom I was very close with, have since passed away and many others have left the company.
My top 3 tips for managing your career through parental leave are:
- Stay in contact – keep yourself at least a little up to date with what’s going on, but also keep your face fresh in their memories too.
- Plan well in advance for maternity leave and all other parental leave entitlements and for when they run out. We did this so cruised through it even though we now live off one (not small, but not huge) salary, but I have seen others struggle once maternity pay runs out and they’re still facing 6-12 months before planning on returning to work.
- Where possible, keep up to date with relevant industry news, even if it is just through LinkedIn.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate. Determined. Caring.
What has being a working mama taught you?
Patience is a virtue – you will not get work done quickly/to a deadline when you are a ‘work from home’ mum.
How do you juggle motherhood?
Same way as I’ve always juggled life – being organised and optimistic. My motto is always plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
How do you start the day?
I used to be the first one up, but I am very lucky and have a husband that has the kids up, fed and sometimes dressed by the time I get up. Following that I will usually do a quick whip around the house tidying/washing/other chores. I will then do some yoga with my toddler once my baby goes down for his morning nap and then I tackle the day or week ahead by checking our huge monthly wall planner. And then if possible, I focus on getting to any work I have to do for family/friends.
How important is your career now?
Our son was very premature and although healthy, still has constant appointments and ongoing surgeries ahead of him. So my focus right now is all on him and his sister so career is not a factor at all for me right now.
What are your future career plans?
I’m currently doing odd jobs from home – mostly legal advice for friends and family and craft/art projects on the side that I sell through my mum’s online Etsy store. I also look after my social media, as well as managing my family’s social media accounts for their small businesses. In the future, I would ideally like to be back in part-time work (as I did before) in a role that allows me the flexibility to do the school drop off and pick up. I do not know what this job will be, but I believe that I can make it happen whether it is setting myself up properly as a consultant and setting my own hours or finding a workplace that is supportive of working parents.
What do you still dream of doing?
I still dream of working on Native Title Claims again. I have not been able to do this since leaving Queensland as it simply does not exist in the same way in Victoria. So I will most likely go back to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in another advisory capacity as I did for the years leading up to the birth of my first child.
Favourite time of the day is…the golden hours when both of my toddlers are napping simultaneously and I can either choose to get a heap of work done OR choose to totally veg out and watch some TV/do yoga/read a book uninterrupted.
Instagram sites that inspire you…anyone that is following their dream.
I’m happiest when…we’re all together as our family of four (or with the extended family) outdoors (happy place) just enjoying being together.
I’m addicted to…planning things – parties, trips, meals, Christmas, family catch ups…I’m a bit of an organisational freak.
Favourite wardrobe staple for work…working from home it doesn’t matter now, but back in my office days it was definitely comfortable shoes.
Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend…sandals and a maxi.
My role model is…my Dad. Always has been, always will be. All that I am I get from him. His work ethic, but also his love for his family is something to aspire to.
Heels or flats? Flats all the way. I’m fairly tall for a girl and sore feet are just the worst.