For parents with young children, juggling the unpredictability of family life with the commitments of the workplace can be tough. You might be desperate to get back to work and talk to grown ups again or feel sad and guilty at the prospect of leaving your baby with someone else. From my own experience and the parents I know, these seem to be common concerns:

  • I need to go back full-time but I want to negotiate to work at home some of the time.
  • I'm not sure I want to go back full-time when my maternity leave finishes
  • Long hours for both parents just isn't practical anymore 
  • I want to take a career break but I'm not sure how to keep up my skills
  • I've had a career break and now I want to polish my CV and build up my confidence 
  • I want something flexible/closer to home so I can be there if I need to be
  • I'm thinking of re-training or setting up my own business so I can make work fit around the family

Helpful websites for flexible working

There are lots of different websites out there that can help.

National Careers Advisory Service gives tips on looking for jobs and courses, writing your CV and succeeding at interviews.

Women Like Us offers career advice specifically for women with children.

Time Wise Jobs lists flexible and part time jobs for professionals and experienced office staff.

Work for Mums lists flexible career opportunities - you can sign up for alerts or upload your CV so employers can find you.

Flexiworkforce lists opportunities that are part-time, flexible, freelance or short-term. You can search for jobs or upload your CV. 

Diversity jobs lists jobs from employers promoting an inclusive, diverse workplace. 

Mumsnet Work Fest is an annual conference that offers talks, workshops, seminars and career clinics to help you find a career that works for you.

NCT College allows you to use your experience in pregnancy, birth and parenting to become an antenatal teacher, breastfeeding counsellor or baby massage instructor, amongst other things! There are also private companies such as Lazy Daisy that offer training as an antenatal or early parenting teacher.

Thinking about starting your own business? Check out Start-ups for lots of information on how to get your business idea off the ground, along with important legal and financial pointers, and Mum's the Boss and MumsplusBusiness for advice, support and networking for mums in business.

What if you want to take your career up a notch? 

If you want to learn how to get into those senior positions, Women1st offers training, mentoring, networking events and resources and works with business to improve the gender balance on management boards and in executive teams.

Sign up to the Guardian Women in Leadership online community where you can read articles about issues affecting women in the workplace and discuss how to promote gender equality.


What about childcare?


A big thing to think about is, of course, childcare. Some people are lucky enough to have friends or family willing to step in but there are a range of possibilities out there.

  • Contact your council for contact details of OFSTED registered childminders and nurseries in your area. You can see what OFSTED are looking for when they inspect early years and childcare providers here and access the latest reports.
  • You could get a nanny/mother's help/au pair - sometimes you can share them with a friend. The nanny could split their week between two families or care for all the children together in one place. There are lots of agencies out there but you could start with and The British Au Pairs Association. Companies like Nannywage simplify the payroll process if you employ a nanny. 
  • Schools offer breakfast clubs and after school clubs but often community centres offer these too and may also run activity programmes in the school holidays.
The excellent Family and Childcare Trust offer a fantastic array of resources, including factsheets on what to think about when choosing childcare, information about childcare costs, and your rights when it comes to maternity and paternity leave or negotiating flexible working.

I found a book called The Secret World of the Working Mother: Juggling Work, Kids and Insanity by Fiona Millar (2009) really interesting. The main thing to remember is that different options will work for different families and will change as the demands of your family and career change. Luckily, most things are negotiable these days if you are brave and go for it!

Good luck! And if you find any more helpful sources of information you would like to share, please get in touch.

Catch up with Careers Week on Feminist Mum

In July 2014, I ran CAREERS WEEK with four excellent contributors including Karen Mattison MBE from Timewise & Women Like Us, Emily Guille-Marett from, Kerry Hales Life Coach and Liz Rouse OBE and Professor Emerita at University of the Arts London.


Some other recent posts that might be of interest


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