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5 things every working parent can relate to…

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BIG THINKING

5 things every working parent can relate to…

Hannah Mann
Europe Managing Partner Health
Hall & Partners Health

LinkedIn Twitter Email

An experienced business leader, Hannah has expertise in market insight across healthcare, customer behaviour, advertising research and brand equity.

I’ve had a lot of working mums in my team over the years and we’ve shared many stories about struggling to balance the demands of having a fulfilling career with bringing up happy kids. I soon learnt that if you share your experiences it not only helps boost your morale; you also realise you’re doing a much better job than you thought.

I decided to share some of the challenges I’ve faced in the attempt to manage my family and work lives. If you happen to be having a bad parenting/work day, I hope this provides some light relief, along with the reassurance that you’re definitely not alone.

 

1) A whole new world … of bacteria

We owe a debt of gratitude to our children for introducing us to a new wave of diseases and viruses that, pre-kids, we didn’t even know existed. Eight years ago I set off to Paris for two days of sales meetings. All was going fine until I woke up in my hotel room and realised I couldn’t open either of my eyes; they were totally sealed shut and swollen up like balloons. As some of you will have rightly guessed, I’d caught conjunctivitis off the kids. My coping strategy was to literally feel my way to the bathroom and dunk my head in warm water to soak my eyes open. Despite looking like I’d been punched in the face, and with my eyes so swollen my eyelashes had disappeared under my eyelids, I went through with my sales meetings – God only knows why. But one thing’s for sure … turning up to see clients looking like you’ve been crying all night is neither a good look nor conducive to sales.

 

Lesson learnt – look after your health and don’t go to work when you’re sick

 

2) The nitty-gritty

I’d just become Managing Partner and, with an hour to go before travelling to New York for three days of strategy meetings, I discovered one of the kids had an infestation of head lice. I’ll never forget the memory of all four of us cramped into our tiny bathroom with greasy, anti-lice gloop dripping everywhere, and me freaking out about how bad it would be to infest the entire senior management team with nits. Thankfully it was all kept under control but I spent the whole trip feeling totally paranoid every time anyone (including myself) scratched their head.

 

Lesson learnt – sometimes it best to just not say anything

 

3) Forgetting the basics … Captain Underpants

You know those random phone calls you get in the middle of the working day (usually just before a major presentation) and you really have no idea how to solve them. I think my best example is when a friend of mine got a phone call at work telling her that her four-year-old son had gone to school without any underpants on. Having realised his error, he was justifiably refusing to go into his classroom. I mean – what the hell! You try explaining to your boss that you’re late for a meeting because you had to source a pair of emergency underpants!

 

Lesson learnt – there’s nothing you can do to avoid these random one-off cock-ups so it’s best not to dwell on them

 

4) Surprise!

This is one of the most common issues which I’m sure everyone can relate to – either forgetting stuff for school or the kids not telling you they need something until it’s too late. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to rush a PE kit to school, once even surreptitiously throwing it over the school wall so my son wouldn’t get a detention. And I’d be very rich if I had a pound for each morning I’ve been told: “Mum, today I need a prize for the tombola / a form signing - that no one seems to have / an obscure outfit for the school production / a papier-mâché sculpture of an Egyptian Head (I’m not even joking about the last one).

 

Lesson learnt – just accept that this is just how life is going to be for the foreseeable future

 

5) If you can, delegate … otherwise multi-task

As a working parent you ideally need to create a clone of yourself. Failing that, you have to get used to dialling into phone calls in your car / on trains / standing in car parks. It’s a fact of life that all-important calls will be scheduled (and unable to be moved) at precisely the time you need to be somewhere else. You soon learn to put your phone on mute and say as little as possible – at least it gives other people the chance to get an occasional word in edgeways.

 

Lesson learnt – you can’t do everything and sometimes it’s best to just delegate

 

So, there you have it. I’m sure there are hundreds of other such stories out there so please, please do share them. If nothing else, perhaps we can put a smile on the face of some poor parent experiencing a frantic start to their working day.

Just remember three things … it’s all worth it in the long run, you’re not alone, and what doesn’t break you certainly makes you stronger.

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I’ve had a lot of working mums in my team over the years and we’ve shared many stories about struggling to balance the demands of having a fulfilling career with bringing up happy kids. I soon learnt that if you share your experiences it not only helps boost your morale; you also realise you’re doing a much better job than you thought.

I decided to share some of the challenges I’ve faced in the attempt to manage my family and work lives. If you happen to be having a bad parenting/work day, I hope this provides some light relief, along with the reassurance that you’re definitely not alone.

 

1) A whole new world … of bacteria

We owe a debt of gratitude to our children for introducing us to a new wave of diseases and viruses that, pre-kids, we didn’t even know existed. Eight years ago I set off to Paris for two days of sales meetings. All was going fine until I woke up in my hotel room and realised I couldn’t open either of my eyes; they were totally sealed shut and swollen up like balloons. As some of you will have rightly guessed, I’d caught conjunctivitis off the kids. My coping strategy was to literally feel my way to the bathroom and dunk my head in warm water to soak my eyes open. Despite looking like I’d been punched in the face, and with my eyes so swollen my eyelashes had disappeared under my eyelids, I went through with my sales meetings – God only knows why. But one thing’s for sure … turning up to see clients looking like you’ve been crying all night is neither a good look nor conducive to sales.

 

Lesson learnt – look after your health and don’t go to work when you’re sick

 

2) The nitty-gritty

I’d just become Managing Partner and, with an hour to go before travelling to New York for three days of strategy meetings, I discovered one of the kids had an infestation of head lice. I’ll never forget the memory of all four of us cramped into our tiny bathroom with greasy, anti-lice gloop dripping everywhere, and me freaking out about how bad it would be to infest the entire senior management team with nits. Thankfully it was all kept under control but I spent the whole trip feeling totally paranoid every time anyone (including myself) scratched their head.

 

Lesson learnt – sometimes it best to just not say anything

 

3) Forgetting the basics … Captain Underpants

You know those random phone calls you get in the middle of the working day (usually just before a major presentation) and you really have no idea how to solve them. I think my best example is when a friend of mine got a phone call at work telling her that her four-year-old son had gone to school without any underpants on. Having realised his error, he was justifiably refusing to go into his classroom. I mean – what the hell! You try explaining to your boss that you’re late for a meeting because you had to source a pair of emergency underpants!

 

Lesson learnt – there’s nothing you can do to avoid these random one-off cock-ups so it’s best not to dwell on them

 

4) Surprise!

This is one of the most common issues which I’m sure everyone can relate to – either forgetting stuff for school or the kids not telling you they need something until it’s too late. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to rush a PE kit to school, once even surreptitiously throwing it over the school wall so my son wouldn’t get a detention. And I’d be very rich if I had a pound for each morning I’ve been told: “Mum, today I need a prize for the tombola / a form signing - that no one seems to have / an obscure outfit for the school production / a papier-mâché sculpture of an Egyptian Head (I’m not even joking about the last one).

 

Lesson learnt – just accept that this is just how life is going to be for the foreseeable future

 

5) If you can, delegate … otherwise multi-task

As a working parent you ideally need to create a clone of yourself. Failing that, you have to get used to dialling into phone calls in your car / on trains / standing in car parks. It’s a fact of life that all-important calls will be scheduled (and unable to be moved) at precisely the time you need to be somewhere else. You soon learn to put your phone on mute and say as little as possible – at least it gives other people the chance to get an occasional word in edgeways.

 

Lesson learnt – you can’t do everything and sometimes it’s best to just delegate

 

So, there you have it. I’m sure there are hundreds of other such stories out there so please, please do share them. If nothing else, perhaps we can put a smile on the face of some poor parent experiencing a frantic start to their working day.

Just remember three things … it’s all worth it in the long run, you’re not alone, and what doesn’t break you certainly makes you stronger.

Author

Hannah Mann
Europe Managing Partner Health
Hall & Partners Health

LinkedIn Twitter Email

An experienced business leader, Hannah has expertise in market insight across healthcare, customer behaviour, advertising research and brand equity.

 

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