Zoe was made to feel ‘dif­fi­cult’ for be­ing mum who worked

It’s not easy for mums re­turn­ing to the work­force

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

New mums are of­ten ea­ger to get back to work. But with that comes huge changes in terms of work-life bal­ance.

Ac­tress Zoe Sal­dana is one high-pro­file mum who was sur­prised by the at­ti­tude of her em­ploy­ers when she tried get­ting back into the groove.

An in-de­mand star, the mother of 18-month-old twin boys Cy and Bowie was amazed by how she was made to feel when she dis­cussed babysit­ting and her new sit­u­a­tion.

She said: "The tone changed in the ne­go­ti­a­tions. I was start­ing to feel that I was ... dif­fi­cult [for babysit­ting to be] con­sid­ered a perk. No. This is a ne­ces­sity that you must cover for me in order for me to go and per­form my job.

“The fact that there are women work­ing in these stu­dios - and they’re the ones [en­forc­ing] these man-made rules.

“When are we go­ing to learn to stick to­gether?" Not all mums want the Alist treat­ment, and it’s hard to imag­ine many ex­pect­ing babysit­ting to be cov­ered. But the sit­u­a­tion does high­light the is­sues of re­turn­ing to work with a new set of pri­or­i­ties. He­len Farmer is an ed­i­tor, broad­caster and founder of pop­u­lar Dubai-based par­ent­ing blog The Moth­er­ship (the­moth­er­shipdxb.com). Mother of 17-month-old daugh­ter Phoebe, she’s got a lot on her plate. And she couldn’t be hap­pier. “It’s hugely dif­fi­cult,” she says. “How­ever, many work­ing mums need to re­turn to their ca­reer for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, or they re­ally en­joy pro­fes­sional life. Since be­com­ing a mother I feel like more of an as­set - pro­duc­tiv­ity is through the roof, I’m more fo­cused. It has made me bet­ter at my job.”

New par­ents soon dis­cover that they need to be much more flex­i­ble when it comes to their lit­tle ones, in terms of vac­ci­na­tions, doc­tor vis­its and nurs­ery runs.

Un­for­tu­nately. oth­ers may not share such a pro­gres­sive view of pro­ceed­ings. But Ceri McVit­tie, a life and ex­ec­u­tive coach at Your Ab­so­lute Life (yourab­so­lutelife.com) urges em­ploy­ers not to be nar­row-minded in their ap­proach to staffing and re­cruit­ment.

A new mum her­self, she has worked for a num­ber of com­pa­nies who have fam­ily friendly poli­cies, but knows many are still be­hind the curve.

She says: “Some com­pa­nies have the at­ti­tude... ‘you chose to have kids so it is your prob­lem’ (but) flex­i­bil­ity is re­quired when you are a par­ent’.

“Al­ways talk to your em­ployer, if you need ex­tra flex­i­bil­ity you should ask. If your em­ployer is not open to dis­cus­sion, is this the kind of place you want to work? It is not just mums. Par­ent­ing isn’t a 9-5 and, it is im­por­tant com­pa­nies help sup­port par­ents as part of a di­verse work­force.”

He­len agrees: “Mums have an enor­mous amount to of­fer the work­force, and em­ploy­ers in the UAE need to up­date their ways of think­ing, such as more flex­i­ble work­ing con­di­tions so they can work from home or in the evenings, should the in­dus­try or role al­low. I just wish more em­ploy­ers re­alised the value in em­ploy­ing mums.”

WON­DER WOMAN: Ac­tress Zoe Sal­dana (inset) found out that em­ploy­ers aren’t al­ways un­der­stand­ing to par­ents

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