Can you be both a mother and a career woman?

mother and career woman
Rebecca Driscoll HR Manager | Operations Team

Sam Love shares her journey on getting back into work after maternity leave

The working environment is constantly changing. At Rawnet, we support our team with a range of fluid working options, whether that’s flexible hours or remote working.

These options have been particularly popular with our working parents, enabling them to better manage their time to fit in around their lifestyles, without compromising on their careers. I spoke to Sam Love, who has recently been promoted to Account Director, on balancing the two sides of her busy schedule and her hopes for the future.

Q. Tell us more about what do you do in your role at Rawnet

As a member of the Account Management team, I consider myself to be the eyes and ears of any of my clients. My role is full of variety but with my clients at the heart of it all. I ultimately want our clients to be heroes, for their businesses to grow commercially and therefore being able to work with them to embrace the use of digital and drive success for them is paramount. Another passion of mine is customer satisfaction, so any contact I have with my clients is done with the utmost respect.

Q. How long was your maternity leave?

I was away from work for a total of 13 months - with holiday either side, I was able to enjoy the full year of maternity leave and some!

Q. How did you feel about returning to work?

I was genuinely excited about returning. As cheesy as it sounds, from the moment I walked in on my first day back, I felt like I had come home. I have been at Rawnet for nearly 7 years, so it's become a massive part of who I am. Our staff turnover is low, so coming back and seeing the same friends and colleagues that I worked so closely with before I left was awesome and comforting at the same time.

Q. Did you return to work on the same hours?

Initially, I returned to work full-time, whilst using holiday to enable me to work four days a week. Two months after my return, I permanently moved to a part-time role working four days a week. I now work Monday to Thursday and enjoy every Friday with my little girl. I was also able to change my working hours to suit nursery hours, so I work 08:30-17:00 every day (instead of 09:00-17:30). One of my considerations when changing my hours and days was whether this would work with my clients, and so far it’s worked well.

Q. What were, or are, the biggest challenges you faced going back into the workplace after having your daughter?

A lot of the challenges I faced were psychological. Mentally, I struggled to comprehend leaving my young toddler at nursery and in the care of someone else. I found I was really quite anxious about it and often got upset at the thought of leaving her but thankfully we have chosen an awesome nursery where she is really happy and simply LOVES going. They are really diligent with their care so it really put my mind at rest relatively quickly. I'm passionate about digital, it’s what I studied at uni and it’s been my career until now, so I know how quickly it changes and progresses and being away from it all for a year really worried me...could I quickly pick it back up?!

My other big concern was getting all my work done in a four day week but I have never been someone who simply does my set hours. Before maternity, I would always stay in the office until I felt I had finished all my work to the best standard and to crack on a fresh the next day. I would log-on at night to check emails and get on trains or in the car super early for a client meeting somewhere (sometimes staying away for a night if it was warranted). These have never been demands of Rawnet, it's something I take on myself to feel satisfied with my work. My worry was being able to still maintain that flexibility when I had nursery runs to do and a child to look after when I was at home. Would I still be acknowledged as a valued employee? Would my standards start to slip? Would I struggle with feelings that I wasn’t achieving my normal standard of work? 

Q. How do you juggle being a career woman and mother?  

I thankfully have the most supportive husband and the care of our daughter is totally 50/50, so I know that I can work late some nights and I know that if I need to get to London for a full day meeting, he will do the nursery runs and be on call for any emergencies (which has happened a few times!). I’ve realised I do not need to be 100% in control of the care of our daughter, we share it. This has been a massive thing for me to realise. I’ve NEVER been good at delegating, I always want to do everything myself both at work and at home, which became even more prominent with a newborn. I have also found that having a full year of maternity leave and now every Friday off, I have had - and continue to have - headspace to think things through with work. I can think of new ideas for clients or review the way I work and reason with myself a bit more, so that upon my return to work the following week, I am ready and raring to go and make the most of my working days. It’s as if I am no longer in a constant full-time working cloud which I think I became somewhat accustomed to. I have that space to be creative, even though it’s just by thinking! We don’t get that when we work full-time and are always on the go.

Managing my time outside of work is important, I no longer fully book my diary with dinners with friends, nights at the pub etc.- As boring as it sounds, my week is primarily focussed around working and being a mum and wife (with a night of netball thrown in for good measure!). I am not exhausted by constantly being on the go. I am also incredibly lucky that I have a daughter who loves sleep as much as her mum. I get a full night’s sleep every night, which helps with good wellbeing, both mentally and physically.

Q. What are your favourite things about being a working mum?

A big thing for me is that I really want our daughter to grow up seeing her parents working, and for her to see that she can have a career and be a mum - if that’s what she would like to be! I’d like her to learn that you have to work for things you want but you can really enjoy the work you do at the same time. I love having time out from being Mummy. As much as I love my daughter, I have realised that I need to be around other adults, to have adult conversations and to be challenged in the way that only comes with working on something unrelated to anything I would typically do at home. I find it makes me a better mum, as the time I have with my baby girl is so much more precious and I make sure it’s always jam packed full of fun.

Q. What are your future goals in your career path in the next few years, what do you hope to achieve?

I want to continue to grow within my role. To learn new skills, to push boundaries and to drive growth for Rawnet, as well as myself.

Q. Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a parent, from that prior to the birth of your daughter?

Mentally, no. I still feel I can achieve anything I could before I had her but I feel I have had to tell myself that I actually may need to reign that in a bit, as my priorities have changed. My daughter will always be my number one and, rightly or wrongly, I feel that I have to be realistic to say that if push comes to shove, my career would take a hit if I was put in a position where I had to dedicate all of my time to her. I have someone dependant on me now, so their wellbeing is the most important thing in my life. However, I will always have goals in terms of my career which I feel is healthy for me to aspire to.

Q. As a working mum, what is your biggest professional achievement to date?

I was over the moon to have been promoted to Account Director recently, eight months upon my return to work following maternity leave. Moving from Senior Account Manager into this role is really gratifying, as I feel I have worked hard since returning and I am so grateful that Rawnet has acknowledged my growth with this promotion.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice about being a working parent, what would it be?

This is tricky because each and every working parent is in a different situation, whether that be their employer, number of children, size of their family etc. I honestly feel I am not worthy of giving out advice on this, everyone is different. People say ‘you can achieve anything you set your mind to’ which is great and all that, but is it realistic? It’s all relative. Just be happy in what you do and how you do it, whatever that may be :-)

What I would say though, is that I feel INCREDIBLY lucky to be a part of Rawnet - I am fully supported as a working mum and if I have any worries or anxieties about my performance at work, my Line Manager, our Director and our HR manager are all available for me to talk to and work through my concerns. I really do not expect any favours or special conditions as a working mum, just to be a part of the team again and be treated as I was before I had my little girl. I genuinely feel I am more than that, I am a part of the Rawnet fam!