For those who don't know, Katie is our wonderful Account Manager here at GEL Studios. But she also has another very important role - full time Mummy to 3 beautiful children; Taylor (7), Oakley (5) and Summer (4). This is her take on life as a working mum, and her recommended top tips to help get that work-life balance right.
Life in a creative agency.
My role has evolved a lot since starting, but my days always fly by with the variations of work that come into a creative agency. I answer the phone and it could be an enquiry for web design, branding or support for an existing website - no two days are ever the same. I also love having the opportunity to get involved with what the team may be working on. Whilst I may not be in a creative role, or qualified in website wire-framing and developers code - the team always ask for my opinion on things, to see if I have ideas which will help. It would also appear that I've developed a new skill when it comes to creating social media posts for GEL Studios - using a play on words for witty captions has proven to be quite entertaining for the team, so I shall be adding that to the CV!
I have such an active role, that involves working with with lots of different people. From local businesses enquiring, to my regular calls with our retainer clients and partners in the print industry - whoever they are, wherever they are from, we build relationships with them. We learn about them, where they have come from and where their journey is taking them.
From Mum to Account Manager - and everything in between.
I joined GEL Studios just shy of 3 years ago. Summer had just turned 1, and I had been working evenings and weekends in retail to fit around the children. However, with Taylor now at school and Oakley about to start pre-school, I felt ready to go back into the 9am-5pm office working life.
My background had always been admin. I joined Nationwide as soon as I left school, where I worked my way up to PA, and I was there until I had Taylor - so 11 years in total.
I started in a job sharing role, working 2.5 days a week. Wow - was it a shock to the system! Working during the day, then coming home to reading, spellings, washing, dinner, packed lunches, cleaning... the list goes on, as many working parents know! Even fitting in catch ups with friends was a reminder on my phone. Eating dinner was getting later and going to sleep was just an inconvenience. And on top of all that? The constant guilt. Am I spending enough time with the children? Am I being a good mum? Feeling bad for raising my voice, all because they were trying to ask me a question whilst I was trying to do a million other things.
However, as time went on this got easier. I began to realise that GEL was my working family and whatever I was going through or feeling, they were there for me. If I needed to leave early, attend an assembly, parents evening - it was fine. I didn't need to fear asking, I didn't need to stress about making it up because they 'got it'. Graeme taught me that family comes first and as long as I live by that, I will always be a success... and this is the reason GEL is so successful. The work ethic that the team is built on allows flexibility and trust and this in turn increases productivity and morale.
As time went on and the children's school patterns changed, I was able to change my working pattern to suit the needs of my family life. I didn't just change it once either... as the team will tell you - I don't think they even knew my working days at one point! But Graeme and the team allowed me to try several different patterns, until I found the one that gave me the right work/life balance.
3 years later, and I think this is the longest working pattern I have stuck to - it works just fine for us as a family. I work Monday-Friday, 9am until 3pm. I get to drop the kids off at school, pick them up and still have time to do homework, dinner, baths and bed - whilst still having an evening to myself.
I love my role at GEL. I feel accountable and I feel like I can be me for that part of the day, before returning to being Mummy. Feeling like you are a person is so important to anyone, not just parents - and GEL has allowed me to be that person. Allowed me to grow and realise I don't still have 'mummy brain' and I am worth something.
I still get to have time off with the children on school holidays, I never miss an assembly and I am always there to cheer them on at Sports day. For this I am forever grateful to my GEL team, my GEL family.
5 tips on creating (and surviving) that working mum life balance:
1. Take time for yourself.
You are only human. You can't do everything and sooner or later, you spinning all those plates will cause one to drop. Remember what is important, and burning yourself out means you will be no good to anyone. Take time for you - go for a walk or run, have a break and write a list - because well, who doesn't love a handwritten list?!
2. Choose your why.
The guilt is kicking in - you have a project with a deadline that you need to stay on and work late for. You haven't been able to ask the kids how their day was, you're tired and snappy, but it was something you wanted to get right and do for yourself. Whenever the guilt kicks in, I always think of my "why?". Those three little humans that need me, who will one day realise why I do what I do. Children don't think the way we do and they will always forgive you.
3. Don't compare yourself to others.
It's ok, to not be ok. We all lose it now and again and it's completely normal. When you're running to the school gates (because you're late yet again), with your hair looking like a birds nest and your clothes barely hanging on (or is that just me?), you look over and see that mum - the one with the perfectly straightened hair, contour is on point and her clothes are on trend. Well, believe me when I say, she also loses it, as well as having "mum guilt" and a million things to do. Never compare or judge, as we are all in the same boat - we just all deal with things differently.
4. Don't feel bad for wanting to be you.
I love being me and not "Mum" for a few hours. Never feel bad for wanting to be you. Enjoy the break being at work, and not talking about the kids all day long. Enjoy smiling, having a laugh and wanting to strive to achieve goals outside of being Mum.
5. We all drink coffee and wine.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, relying on a caffeine boost is ok! Have a coffee when you get to work - it will set you up for the day and also help you relax after getting over the traumatic morning you have just had of "I'm not wearing my jumper" or "I don't want that for breakfast" or "Mummy I've lost my shoe". Equally when you get home, don't be afraid to pour yourself a glass of wine (or Blue WKD in my case!) - because you have survived another day and you deserve it.