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Connecting our Community: Meet Vanessa

Vanessa has enjoyed a flexible work arrangement whilst being a single mum to her young daughter. She reveals that she wishes she had worked less while her daughter was awake in those early years but her circumstances didn't always allow for that.

What is your current family situation?

I am single, work full time and have a feisty and gorgeous 4 year old daughter. My daughter has just completed her last year of childcare and will commence school in 2016. I’m from NZ and don’t have any other family here in Sydney so I rely on friends or professional care in juggling work and childcare.

What industry do you work in?

I work in the freight transport industry which operationally works almost 24 x 7 however my role is that of finance business partner so I’ve been able to request a more flexible working arrangement when I’ve required it.

What is your current working arrangement?

For financial reasons I started back at work – part time – soon after having my daughter. I managed to make it work by working some days at home and some days in the office to maximise my time with her when she was still small and breastfeeding. I now work full time and my daughter is in day care full time which she loves. Day care is adjacent to work which means that I can pop over to attend special events such as Mother’s day morning teas, petting zoo visits, photo days etc.

Does this work for you and your family?

It has to date, however it’s been difficult when one or both of us have been sick or I’ve needed to travel for work. However, when my daughter starts school my work arrangement will need to change. I’m hoping that I can work flexibly between the office and home so that I can spend more time with my daughter after school finishes each day.

What surprised you when you returned to work?

Not having a partner gave me a new appreciation for the adult and intellectual interaction that work provides. I was also surprised by the constant challenge of trying to balance it all – professional, parenting (mother and father roles!), social and the household – oh as well as the peace of being able to go to the toilet and eat without a child barging in, climbing over you or needing your attention!

What is your biggest challenge juggling work and family?

Ensuring I still have some “me” time outside of work even if that just means a gym visit or an hour at night after my daughter is in bed to read or watch TV – without feeling guilty!

What’s your best piece of advice for mums returning to work?

Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for a more flexible working arrangement or to accept your friends and neighbours help when it’s offered. Stop trying to do it all.

If you could have changed one thing about being a working mother, what would it be?

To work less or at least less while my daughter is awake so that I can spend more time with her…and to be able to outsource more i.e. cleaning, ironing, gardening (without the financial restrictions)

What is your top tip for working mums to juggle the struggle?

Separate work emotion from personal emotions and don’t bring work issues home.

About Vanessa

Vanessa works full time in the freight transport industry and is a single mum to her gorgeous 4 year old daughter. To manage all her commitments, Vanessa works flexibly and she has some great advice about how to achieve flexibility at work and home – starting with not trying to do it all. Here is some of Vanessa’s story:


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