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Advice from Working Mums

  1. #9
    baffelly is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    I have the same feelings/dilemma. I've only been off work for about 1.5 year and was working for finance/ibanks. Have been thing hard about what jobs I can get in the field that would have reasonable hours but no good answer yet!

  2. #10
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Never had Mommy Daydreams

    Personally, I never dreamed of being a mommy full-time. That doesn't mean I didn't want to have children at all--it's just that I never daydreamed about being a SAHM.

    But, I felt a social obligation to be a SAHM--based on my upbringing and what others around me were doing. I was a SAHM for a full year (son is now 2) and it was absolutely the most difficult year of my life so far.

    I didn't want to go back to work because I was stubborn and kept saying to myself, "I have to do this. I have to stick this out. I should be doing this. I shouldn't let a helper 'raise my child' etc."

    But, in the end, I gave in a little bit and started working part-time. It turns out that it was one of the wisest decisions I have made.

    Before baby I was a journalist working for a newspaper and writing for other publications--that was my education and my background. I had already been in journalism for 7 years and it was (and still is somewhat) my passion.

    After baby, I did go back to journalism but that career didn't mesh as well with the family life I wanted so I started teaching. Now, I have the best of both worlds because I teach communication and journalism which I find rewarding. I teach part-time. This means I sacrifice some of the perks and financial pluses but in the end it also means I have a flexible schedule and am available for my son much more than I would be if I was working full-time in my original career.

    I can still pursue writing and I'm still involved in that arena but it is somewhat on the back burner. I bring in extra income for our family and to me, working outside the home is more productive and effective than going to therapy--for me work is therapeutic and for that reason alone it's so healthy that I went back to work.

    I am a MUCH better mother and wife just by working part-time.

  3. #11
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sai Kung

    i agree 110%! i LOVE being a mum, but i KNOW i'm a better mum because i work. i know myself well enough to know that although i love spending time with my kids i would go crazy if it was for an indefinite period of time. i enjoy every minute of it when my helper goes away or when i take the kids to canada on my own. BUT, i love it so much partly because i know i'll be getting back to work soon.

    for me, i changed from running my small beauty salong and teaching privately to openning my own playgroup centre. when i openned it, neither of my kids was going to school, but by next september, both of my kids will be in school full-time. i'm planning on expanding my business (hopefully) by then.

    because i run my own business, i spend the vast majority of my time working from home doing admin and planning. i still teach some of the classes, but since i've hired a wonderful part-time teacher to take some of the stress out of my week, i've been enjoying my life even more than normal.

  4. #12
    TheQuasimother is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Hong Kong

    It was hard in the first year. I went back to work just a little less than 6 months after birth. It almost broke me. I was also in a job I did not like. Now, however, it is different. I love my job and the people i work with. I'm now pregnant with my second child and the support I am getting is WAAAAAY better than even back home.

    Every school holiday, I get the experience of being a stay at home mum and by the end of it, I desperately want to go back to work! This was very much evident when I had to stay at home for 2.5 weeks during the last CNY break.

    My current job stimulates my mind. Keeps me sane with adult conversation not just idle chit chat or kid-talk. This has definitely made me a better mum. Going back to work too doesn't mean you need to go back to what you were doing before. So I agree with Thanka2.

    I do make sure that my child and I have special moments together. He knows the days and refers to them as mummy and ... days. These moments are so precious to me. My colleague who has grown up with a working mum had days like that too with his mum and he said that those days/moments have carried on from when he was little. So imagine the future... your children and you... when they're teenagers, adults... continuing this tradition with you not because you want but because they want to. This keeps me going.

  5. #13
    sherwes is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    This is a really interesting thread and it's good to know that there are other working mums out there. I am a lawyer by trade and have two children (8 months and 26 months). I have had 8 months maternity leave for each baby (very lucky I know) and return to work after baby number 2 in 2 weeks.

    In my view the keys to making it work are:

    - working part time if at all possible. I am very lucky that I can work only 3 days per week.

    - if that's not possible working flexible hours in the manner that LeahH has described.

    - having an understanding boss who realises that you may need time off for family issues from time to time. My boss has 5 young kids so knows what it is like to be woken up at night!

    - having a great helper or nanny who you trust implicitly and who your children adore. My helper is fantastic and my son and daughter love her so I know they receive the best of care whilst I am at work.

    - acknowledging that you probably won't be on the same career trajectory as your were previously and making peace with this (others might disagree with me on this one). This was very difficult for me as I used to be a very ambitous person. However, I work in the front office banking role and I simply can not compete anymore when I only work 3 days a week, leave a 5.30 and don't do any work travel. I have accepted that I may not be promoted again until I am using a zimmer frame whilst my colleagues who are willing to work the long hours and do the travel will be promoted ahead of me. In a few years I will be working for colleagues who used to work for me.

    - making an effort to be the "Comfort Shelter" for your baby (as Ox Jess said) - i.e be the one that comforts him at night and when he is sick.

    - acknowledging and accepting that you won't really have any "me time". Between working and spending time with my children I don't have any time left. I even feel guilty if I go to the supermarket without taking one of them and I won't tell you how long it has been since I have had a haircut!!

  6. #14
    NewMommie is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Hong Kong

    This is indeed a great thread - thanks for posting it! So many former lawyers! I'm a lawyer by trade as well - one of those 100 hour work-week types, and an expat at a US law firm - no other ties to HK and don't speak the language of the locals. Even though my firm offers part-time for the first year I return from maternity leave (which will be in a few months), I already know from talking to others that that version of part-time is not going to work and quite honestly, I'll probably be laid off within the year if I tried to hold them to the part-time schedule.

    My question is - how did you guys find jobs in HK that worked for you? I wouldn't even know how to begin a job search out here. And for anyone that went back to work after taking a year or more away to take care of your bundle of joy, were employers understanding about your absence or was it held against you? Thanks!

  7. #15
    jane01 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Hong Kong

    I can really relate to everything you're saying. I am an accountant with a Big 4 firm and 6 years ago was one of the first part-timers in China or HK in our very large organisation. To start with it was all very under the table, don't tell anyone, etc. Now it seems to be a bit more accepted, although there still aren't many part timers and those that are, are usually expats. There are no part time partners and it was made very clear to me that partnership is not an option if I am working part time.

    Some things I've learned along the way:
    * whether part time works totally depends on your boss. Some are accomodating and don't care, so long as you get the work done. Others are more high maintenance and need you in the office 24/7.
    * 3 days is easier than 4 days. In 4 days you are given a full time workload. In 3 days you are given an almost full time work load. Having said that, I'm working 4 days now, and yes, it is very full on.
    * My work colleagues (all full time) joke that the only part time about my job is the salary, because I do the same amount of work as them.
    * If you are part time you need to be 110% focused on the job when you're there. There is no slacking off, no Starbucks runs, no long lunches. You really need every minute to get the work done and get out at a decent hour.
    * After being very career minded, it is hard to step back and accept that I'm never going to be promoted. It is hard to see others get ahead of you (especially people you've trained). I can't help feeling let down by this. I am the same person I was before I had children - the same qualifications, experience, ability and potential. The only difference is that I don't have the same amount of time to devote to work. Having said that, I see female partners with young children and don't want their life. They say they are connected to their children, but really, they aren't. They are kidding themselves, although I'd never say that to them.
    * I've gone from client facing work to an internal role and that makes the balance easier. The work is more predictable.
    * You need to be flexible and move your days off around to suit the business.
    * My company would never employ an outsider part time. You would need to work full time for at least a few years to prove yourself then make a business proposal for working part time.

    Even with the downsides, I absolutely recommend part time work. It is totally worth it to touch base with other parents at school, the teachers and do drop off and pick up. My girls really look forward to it.

    I also strongly believe that all mums need to be able to support their families. Even if your husband earns a good income, there may come a time when he is sick, unemployed, etc. Financial security is everyone's responsibility.

  8. #16
    plumtree is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Hong Kong

    Hear hear for everything said, especially that said by Jane. I work part time in a law firm and can identify with everything she said except that there aren't any female partners with children in the Hong Kong office. (Or if they are, they certainly don't do anything with them because no one knows about them!) It's Friday night on my day off, and I'm working!

    There are far fewer options for family-friendly work in Hong Kong than in other countries, but, judging by this thread, I'm actually quite surprised at the number of women there are who have been able to find semi-suitable jobs. I guess the message is that they do exist so don't give up!

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