Professional Mums: Balancing Career & Family

by Victoria Mortimer, Corporate Partnerships Executive for Club PURE for business.

I thought I’d start this discussion close to home. Well, work to be exact. I have asked our gorgeous, hard-working PURE team some probing questions about how they fit everything in life into their daily lives.

Maybe you can relate, or perhaps have some tips and pointers you have acquired over the years that you would like to share. Wisdom from peers is always valuable so please feel free to put in your two cents, as I’m sure it will be priceless to most.

I have asked a selection of PURE members who are all in different roles with different working hours to see how, if at all, their answers vary. I’m a mother of one (soon to be two!), and it’s interesting to see how it all matched up.

So, who’s in my panel with me?

  • Becky: CEO, mother of two (Edinburgh).
  • Rachel: Head Office Manager, step-mother of one, (Edinburgh).
  • Joanna: Customer Services, mother of one (Edinburgh).
  • Lesley: Therapist, mother of one (Glasgow)

Do you feel like you have a balanced work-to-life ratio?

Becky: Yes, although it took me a long time to achieve this.  I realised a while ago that I am not a ‘9-5’ person, I am a bit of a workaholic so I love working and don’t even see my job as work because I love it so much… so I do literally have to ‘stop myself’ from working!

But its pointless for me to try to cram my work into a traditional 9-5 pattern so I achieve balance through having a flexible working balance. For instance, if I need to go off to see to a family matter, I just plan it into my workload.

My holiday time is also very important to me. Having a lot of responsibility in my job means its really important for me to be able to completely switch off sometimes and focus on something else, and I really believe that this makes me more effective in the long run at both my job and being a mum.

Rachel: I am always working on it! It is a very difficult thing to balance, but with organisation and truly committing your allotted time to each area of your life it is possible.

Joanna: I have a good balance, working a ‘normal’ and structured 09:00-17:30 Monday to Friday. I have evenings and weekends to spend as a family.

Lesley: As a therapist, I sometimes find it hard to get childcare when working a lot of weekends. I have different shifts every week, whilst my partner also does a rota shift as well.  I feel like there is not much family time, but we try our best.

Vicky: Working part-time has made life much easier to balance and I feel I am lucky to be able to make dinner for my little boy every day rather than getting home when it’s his bed time.


What one thing would you say you do to achieve work/life balance?

Becky: One thing I’d love more of? Having flexibility with my job and lots of holiday time where I can really switch off and recharge properly.

Rachel: Time slots and communication!  I need to diarise my time around my family needs, work needs and, crucially, my needs – or neither of them work!  Once diarised and prioritised, I communicate where I am going to be and when to everyone who needs to know… no secrets!  That way, people at work know when they can get me and my family know that when I am on their time, I’m fully there, not with my phone in one hand!

Joanna: To achieve a balance, you need to ensure the time when you’re not working is spent having quality time with family. I love spending time with my daughter, Sophie, and making the most of that time.

Lesley: I think set days would make work/life balance more achievable as you would be able to plan ahead. Juggling a rota-based career and family is nothing new for women, but there is a lot more flexibility in workplaces nowadays.

Vicky: Weekends are usually divided between family (husband, son and myself) and grown-ups time. I think making sure quality time with friends and family and with just me and my husband are all important to create that happy balance.


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What would you, if anything, like to change to improve your work schedule?

Becky: I am really happy with my work life balance now, I feel I can be equally as effective in my job as I am at home being a mum.

Rachel: Nothing. It’s up to me to manage my schedule effectively.

Joanna: It’d be great to have flexi-time and work from home if, for example, my wee ‘chops’ Sophie was unwell. I think a lot of women would really benefit from this!

Lesley: As I said in the previous question, in an ideal world, set days would make my schedule a lot easier as I would be able to have the same days for childcare and have time for my family.

Vicky: I am always checking work emails from my mobile when I’m not in work, I find it difficult to shut off as I know that although I may not be working others are and may need a response. I am trying to manage my time better and condense it where possible to the times I am contracted. I think I will struggle with this though as I can’t help myself!


Do you socialise with your work colleagues regularly, if so is this important to you?

Becky: Yes I love socialising with the team and knowing what everyone is up to!  I think we have a really open and flexible culture at PURE and everyone works so hard so its nice being able to have down-time and socialise each month.  We have monthly drinks which I always look forward to spending more time with the team.

Rachel: yes and yes – we need revelry amid all the hard work we do, especially with each other!

Joanna: I socialise within work and it is important to a degree, but there are other commitments outside of work.  As long as I ‘get on with everyone’ within work,  that’s what counts.

Lesley: Yes I do, I think it is important to have a good relationship with your colleagues.  It creates a better working environment and a more solid team! 🙂

Vicky: Not too regularly but I do see some colleagues out of work on occasions. I don’t go out as often now as I am pregnant and not being able to enjoy a glass of wine with others is a little frustrating at present. Five and half months down the line though and I am sure this answer will be different.


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Social media has moulded the way we communicate, does this make it easier to stay connected with family while you work or does it make it more difficult?

Becky: My family lives over 400 miles away so its good to keep in touch with them over social media, I don’t do it so much at work, but I feel more connected to them having social media and probably like everyone I love knowing what is going on in their lives!

Rachel: Ooft no! Social media is a distraction plain and simple.

Joanna: I wouldn’t say I would use social media to communicate with family, it would be more friends. With family, I tend to stay in contact via texts/ phone calls etc. Old school!

Lesley: As we don’t use our mobile phones during shifts it makes no difference. The life of a therapist!

Vicky: I don’t use social media for that purpose whilst at work, but it certainly helps keep me connected to family and friends outwith the office.


Is it easy to leave work at the door when you get home or does it spill into your home space?

Becky: No, I live eat and breathe the business!  I don’t find it easy to switch off at all, probably because I love what I do with a passion. So it doesn’t bother me.  My home and work lives are completely intertwined, but it’s the way I like it, so I am happy with that. I know other people need to have separation between home and work.

I think its more important that you are happy with your life, and if you are happy to take work home then that’s fine. If you are happier leaving at it work then that’s fine too. It’s best to find your own version of what works for you. Be you.

Rachel: Again, it’s something I am constantly working at.  There needs to be a balance.  Both have to be flexible to accommodate each other.  Examples: Work has to be flexible during the times I am responsible for my Step-Daughter.  Equally, when work is overflowing and there are important deadlines to hit, my family are flexible and understand that I wont always be there for tea!

Joanna: Within my job role, I am able to leave work behind and it’s partially why I chose the role I’m in. I used to work in retail, working long shifts at different hours. When my daughter was born, I felt it was important to have more structure and not to bring work home at the end of the day (if possible!).

Lesley: I find it easy to switch off after work. I have never had any issues in work either, so it hasn’t spilled into my home. Personally or professionally.

Vicky: I personally find it difficult to ‘leave work at the door’, although I am trying to make more of an effort with this. It’s a work in progress.


Do you get time to yourself away from home and work? If so do you think this is beneficial to balancing career and family?

Becky: I try to have a treatment every month in the spa and that really works for me. I so look forward to it!  I think, again, it comes down to whether you are happy with your balance or not.  I think its really important as both a mum and as a CEO to look after myself well, so I try to eat well, exercise, be healthy and do things that make me feel happy.

I love going out with friends, spending time with my boys or doing something on my own. I think you have to make it work for you and what will make you happiest.  I think everyone deserves to be happy and you should never feel guilty for spending time for yourself if that’s what you need. A little me-time is innocent!

Rachel: It is the most important thing to ensure that you manage both career and family, and look after yourself too.  However, ‘me time’ can be the thing that ends up last on the list.  I strive to get time to myself, whether it be gym, or a walk – I manage these at least twice a week and it does help to keep me centred and de-stress the mind.

Although, truthfully, there is soooo much to be said for time “home alone” and an old repeat or two of Downton 😉

Joanna: My time away from work is usually spent with family, as that time is much more precious to me right now.

Lesley: As with my previous answers,  the time I have at home means a lot to me and I don’t often get the time with my family. So ‘me time’ is last on the list.

Vicky: I don’t spend enough time by myself. I will definitely be booking in for some regular “me time” at the spas before bambino no.2 arrives though!


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Overall do you think you could balance your home life and work better?

Becky: I think I have the balance right for me, it took me a long time to get there but I am very happy with my balance.  I guess the only thing I would like is to maybe be not quite so busy/full on all of the time, but I also love the buzz of being busy and overall I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Rachel: Yes, always, but isn’t that the challenge?! 🙂

Joanna: I think I do have a good balance, I would love to work fewer hours and spend more time with Sophie but at the end of the day I need to work

Lesley: Yes, it could be balanced better and I’m working on it.

Vicky: I don’t think there will ever be a perfect balance with work and home in my life, but being aware of it and making efforts to weigh it up regularly should keep me on a happy path.

What do you think? How do you balance your career and motherhood? Are there any steps you could take to look after your well-being more?

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