FOUR MUMS SHARE HOW THEY’RE ROCK­ING THE SOLO WORK­ING MUM LIFE

Lift Magazine - - Contents -

RE­BECCA COATES (31)

Tell us about your ca­reer...

I’m a so­ci­ol­o­gist. I an­a­lyse so­cial sur­vey and cen­sus data for re­search into In­dige­nous so­cial strat­i­fi­ca­tion. I write aca­demic jour­nal ar­ti­cles, re­search re­ports, do a lot of project man­age­ment and some lec­tur­ing.

How many days per week do you work?

Five days. In aca­demic re­search you have to get your own fund­ing. It’s very com­pet­i­tive I wouldn’t be com­pet­i­tive if I was work­ing part-time.

Do you have shared care with your co-par­ent?

Yes, we have one week on, one week off.

What qual­i­fi­ca­tions do you have?

A PHD in so­ci­ol­ogy

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I feel in­cred­i­bly priv­i­leged. I get paid to think about the so­cial world. I get to cre­ate knowl­edge, not just han­dle sta­tis­tics.

In­ter­est­ing. Do you know of any re­search that’s been done into sin­gle work­ing moth­ers and their chil­dren?

Re­search shows that, with all things taken into ac­count, chil­dren of women who work and are sin­gle moth­ers don’t do any worse than other kids. They just need sta­bil­ity.

What is your big­gest chal­lenge with work/life bal­ance?

Prob­a­bly fig­ur­ing out what’s im­por­tant. I still have trou­ble get­ting our day started on time or stick­ing to bed time rou­tines, but to me it’s more im­por­tant to me that Toska knows I’m here for him than hav­ing a strict rou­tine and I fig­ure it’ll all bal­ance out. Some­times we cre­ate ob­sta­cles for our­selves and recog­nis­ing which we need to dis­miss and which we need to face is really im­por­tant. For ex­am­ple, some­times I’ll get really ob­sessed about some­thing I need to cook or get­ting the house­work done and then I re­alise that that’s not really that im­por­tant. It’s an ob­sta­cle that’s been put in my path to achiev­ing hap­pi­ness. When I re­alised that, I had power and stopped putting so many rules on my­self.

What do you think the key is to ca­reer pro­gres­sion?

It’s so im­por­tant to have a men­tor. Some­one to talk to about your next step or even han­dling your ca­reer with moth­er­hood.

Where would you like to see your ca­reer in 5 years?

At the mo­ment I’m work­ing on some­one else’s project so I’m pro­gress­ing their idea. I’d like to se­cure fund­ing for my own re­search.

HAS ONE CHILD, TOSKA, AGED 5

WHEN SHE’S NOT BE­ING A SOLO MUM, SHE’S A POST-DOC­TORAL RE­SEARCH FEL­LOW IN SO­CI­OL­OGY

Tell us about your ca­reer...

I started in in­dus­trial de­sign and then went back to uni to get a mas­ter’s in PR with the ul­ti­mate idea of pro­mot­ing Aus­tralian de­sign. I achieved that fan­tasy when I was pro­duc­tion man­ager of the Na­tional De­sign Cen­tre. Then I had ba­bies so I started writ­ing my own blog. It wasn’t un­til last year that I ap­pre­ci­ated the skills I ac­quired from blog­ging were ac­tu­ally use­ful for some­thing other than blog­ging! And it wasn’t un­til I was forced to re­assess my fu­ture fi­nan­cial state as a sin­gle mum that my ca­reer op­tions crys­tallised – un­til that mo­ment I had won­dered if my next ca­reer choice would be work­ing at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. It’s really hard to put your­self out there with con­vic­tion af­ter you’ve taken a “break” to raise chil­dren.

How many days per week do you work?

Two but spread over three so I can man­age school drop off and pick ups. My mum helps too and some­times their dad but his work is un­pre­dictable so my mum is the per­son I rely on.

Do you have shared care with your child’s co-par­ent?

On av­er­age the kids spend two nights a fort­night at their dad’s and he’ll pick them up from school once a week for din­ner.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The peo­ple I work with – it’s a bit like a re­la­tion­ship, if you have noth­ing in com­mon and you con­tin­u­ally mis­com­mu­ni­cate it won’t mat­ter how awesome you are, at some point it’s go­ing to im­plode. Oh, and peo­ple thank me for stuff at work too. It took me a while to ac­cept that, and I still get a warm glow to be ap­pre­ci­ated!

What is your big­gest chal­lenge with work/life bal­ance?

It used to be guilt, but now it’s fit­ting ev­ery­thing in. I am ter­ri­ble at say­ing no. I try to do ev­ery­thing and have a bit of FOMO!

Where would you like to see your ca­reer in a year?

I am really ex­cited about the space I am work­ing in now. I would also love my blog to take my fam­ily on more ad­ven­tures be­yond Mel­bourne and Vic­to­ria .

How do you start an av­er­age work day?

I’m usu­ally out the door by 8am and in the of­fice hav­ing a cof­fee by 10am and then work, work, work to wrap things up by .

How do you end your day?

I’m a hope­less night owl. I get into my blog and be­fore I know it, it’s mid­night.

KATE NEL­SON (43) HAS TWO CHIL­DREN, AGED 7 AND 9

WHEN SHE’S NOT BE­ING A SOLO MUM, SHE’S A BLOG OUT­REACH DI­REC­TOR AND RUNS HER OWN BLOG WWW.MEE­TOO.COM.AU REC­OM­MEND­ING AWESOME AC­TIV­I­TIES FOR CHIL­DREN AGED 0-12 AROUND MEL­BOURNE AND BE­YOND.

Tell us about your ca­reer...

I work for the Cli­mate Change Author­ity which pro­vides in­de­pen­dent ad­vice to the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment on a range of is­sues re­lat­ing to cli­mate change. We are cur­rently un­der­tak­ing a Spe­cial Re­view for the Min­is­ter for the En­vi­ron­ment on emis­sions trad­ing and what ac­tion Aus­tralia should take to com­bat cli­mate change.

How many days per week do you work?

Four

Do you have shared care with your co-par­ent?

My lit­tle one’s fa­ther lives over­seas cur­rently so he sees her when­ever he is in Aus­tralia (which is a few times a year). We have a good re­la­tion­ship. He’ll Skype once or twice a week when he’s not trav­el­ling and I go to a lot of ef­fort to keep him in­formed about her life.

What qual­i­fi­ca­tions do you have?

An hon­ours de­gree in me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tions and a mas­ters in pol­icy stud­ies (both from UNSW). I’ve also com­pleted an ad­vanced cli­mate course with the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A mum. And in high school I wanted to head up the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I work on an is­sue I’m pas­sion­ate about and I get paid to do work I would (and in the past did!) do for free.

What is your big­gest chal­lenge with life/bal­ance?

Time poverty. I could eas­ily work a fifty hour week in my job as well as hap­pily be­ing a stay at home mum. I con­stantly feel like I do nei­ther well! I’m also about to fly to Beijing next week and pitch for a $1 mil­lion RMB to co-start a busi­ness called elu­min8 which aims to cre­ate the ipod of en­ergy in Aus­tralia and China. All the work on elu­min8 hap­pens on the tram or af­ter hours when my daugh­ter is in bed.

Where would you like to see your ca­reer in 5 years?

Ideally I would still be work­ing on cli­mate change, as a China spe­cial­ist, hav­ing worked on poli­cies that sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced Aus­tralian/global emis­sions...de­spite the ruth­less of­fice hours and sleep de­pri­va­tion of sin­gle moth­er­dom!

CHELL LYONS (33) HAS ONE CHILD ANNI, AGED 3

WHEN SHE’S NOT BE­ING A SOLO MUM, SHE’S THE AS­SIS­TANT DI­REC­TOR OF RE­VIEWS AT THE CLI­MATE CHANGE AUTHOR­ITY.

How does your av­er­age day look? Why don’t we pick a day for you to run us through? Let’s say yes­ter­day.

6:15am: Get up, shower, get dressed, make lit­tle one’s lunch, wake her at 7am, get her dressed, eat break­fast, get in trou­ble as we are out of home­made straw­berry jam for her toast (her favourite which I have been mean­ing to make for days de­spite hav­ing bought straw­ber­ries es­pe­cially), grab left­over risotto for my lunch and head out the door by 7:40am

8am: Drive five min­utes to drop Anni at day­care lit­er­ally as it opens, drive to park near my tram stop, sprint to the tram. I use the com­mute to catch up on emails and lis­ten to my new favourite pod­cast: startup. I get to my desk about 8:45am (hur­rah – on time!), then check emails and scan my cal­en­dar for the day.

10am: At­tend a two hour tech­ni­cal work­ing group meet­ing for the elec­tric­ity sec­tor mod­el­ling that we’re do­ing.

12pm: De­brief on meet­ing out­come with con­sul­tants. Quick lunch at my desk get­ting ready for a pre­sen­ta­tion on how the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment pre­pares emis­sions pro­jec­tions (my old job) with my old boss. It’s great to see my old boss and catch up on what’s been hap­pen­ing with my team back in Can­berra. (I’ve re­cently moved to Mel­bourne).

2pm: Fin­ish a pre­sen­ta­tion on how the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment projects Aus­tralia’s emis­sions and fi­nally have time to check emails. Check per­sonal emails and find out elu­min8 needs to sub­mit a busi­ness plan the next day as part of our pitch which we’ve only just been told about by the con­fer­ence or­gan­is­ers. Sigh. All chance of watch­ing trashy tv af­ter lit­tle one goes to bed tonight is now gone. Forget about that for later and be­gin eval­u­at­ing graphic de­sign pro­pos­als for the Spe­cial Re­view ahead of the panel eval­u­a­tion I’m chair­ing tomorrow.

4:30pm: Rush out of work and run to the tram. Ar­rive at day­care at 5:30, col­lect lit­tle one. Drive home. Cook din­ner, bath, sto­ries, bed.

8pm: Skype with elu­min8 team (while making straw­berry jam). We dis­cuss gaps in our cur­rent busi­ness plan and al­lo­cate work. I’m up­dat­ing sec­tions on mar­ket re­search and im­pact and draft­ing some mar­ket­ing text about elu­min8 and the team for the con­fer­ences’ of­fi­cial brochure. We agree to draft the changes tonight and send them around for re­view tomorrow. Bot­tle jam. Spend a couple of hours draft­ing changes then send to team.

11pm:

Bed. Ex­hausted. Set alarm for 6:15am to do it all again tomorrow.

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