Notes from the triple shift - by Rose Mortimore
Rose Mortimore is a part-time PR professional living in Devon, England with her 3-year-old daughter.
She started blogging when she took on a distance learning business degree to track her progress and share her experiences of studying, working and raising a child simultaneously! Notes from the triple shift aims to explore the quandaries and conundrums of balancing modern life!
Catch up with Rose's story now...
1. Modern life makes us all a Nutty Professor
The larger-than-life Klump family’s tableside bickering, entirely played by Murphy, is one of the more memorable scenes from the comedy and it’s easy to forget that all of the characters are played by the same man. Reflecting upon the many different roles that busy modern life demands, in a way we are all playing different characters, although admittedly the comedic value that results can be varied!
In this lifetime there are more options and opportunities available than ever before which enable the realisation of goals and ambitions. Decisions about jobs and training reflect diverse careers which can span many professions and industries, as well as years, and there is the option to jump back into education at any given time.
Yet this also poses challenges and choices. How does this fit in with the other demands that life presents? Changeable careers can be adjusted and moved around in an order to suit, but there are other elements and responsibilities which are not so flexible, particularly when it comes to partners and children.
Now that I am about to embark upon a three year degree, whilst raising a child and continuing to work, I accept that I will be adding another character to my life: the student.
Eddie Murphy would have enjoyed a break and costume change between characters but this is a luxury that modern life does not afford those who juggle various real-life roles and character overlap seems inevitable!
Although it may be testing at times, development and experience in one aspect of life can not only impact on but also benefit other aspects, whether it be awarding a different viewpoint or gaining transferable skills. Months of bottle and bottom routines meant that when I returned to work after six months of maternity leave, my organisational skills were second to none! And I know that the structured and formal writing I have done at work over the last five years will benefit me when it comes to tackling assignments for my degree.
Now, employment, education and family life are more flexible than ever but life also requires attitudes and ideals which are adaptable and the shift from one character to another on a daily basis.
In 1996, Eddie Murphy almost didn’t get to play the unforgettable Klump family, as the producers of ‘The Nutty Professor’ wanted to hire other actors to play the characters. But the actor wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Eddie Murphy was determined to commit to various characters; would the film have been as amusing or as positively received without his multiple façade?
2. Personal development – why you need a plan
I like to be organised and prepared, which usually results in making a plan or a list for everything I possibly can.
This Christmas I suffered from a particularly bad case of list-making mania. The presents, the food, the family visits, the day itself; everything was subject to a thorough plan, lest I forget the smallest detail and all would be ruined.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”; most of us have heard this expression, which applies equally to our personal and professional lives.
If you miss Great Aunt Doris off your Christmas card list, the outfall could be severe. Spent hours slaving over the dinner but forgotten the bread sauce? Expect to be a family outcast for at least the next six weeks.
At work, we accept that if we don’t prepare for a presentation, we can expect it to go badly. As for interviews – walk into one of those unprepared and you can expect a very uncomfortable experience indeed!
Regardless of the job, preparation in the workplace is crucial; planning is a part of not only getting through each day, but also making sure that we are successful in the long run.
In my role, a PR plan means a well-prepared approach to promoting an event or product; research and article planning help ensure that publication schedules run smoothly and even simple diary management and task prioritising mean that I can get the best possible use out of my time.
In short, if we don’t plan – things don’t go to plan.
The first module of my business degree looks at personal and professional development.
I’m sure there will be many of us who have had a less than positive experience of ‘personal development’ in the workplace; for some managers, it is little more than a box-ticking exercise which results in the annual ritual of sending employees off on a training course for a day or two.
Reflecting on what I have learnt in this module, I realise – I plan, prepare, prioritise and constantly review in every aspect of my professional life. Why don’t I do this better with my own personal development?
Common sense says that you can’t get anywhere without knowing exactly where you want to go and even if you do know exactly where you want to go, you need a plan for how you’re going to get there! Why should personal development be any different?
Personal development plans generally have two obligations – to benefit the organisation and to benefit the employee. Taking an independent approach to personal development means that you can make the most of every opportunity both in and outside of work, with the aim of progressing your own development and bringing you closer to your career goals, whether it be a promotion, a specialist qualification or skills in an entirely different area.
‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’ is a classic interview question which I’m sure we have all prepared an answer for at some point. Answer this question in a neutral circumstance and you may be surprised at the conclusions you arrive at.
Proactively managing your own development requires time and effort and to be fully beneficial, the plan should be regularly reviewed as you will find that your goals and ambitions may change a few years, or even months, down the line.
Ask yourself – when was the last time you really thought about exactly where you want to go? And now that you’ve thought about it – how are you going to get there?
Start planning – your personal life needs it as much as your professional one does. Great Aunt Doris will thank you for it.
8 tips for single mums returning to work
Being a single working mum is hard work but by being well prepared and thinking positively for you and the baby, you can make it work for both of you.
From someone who has been there, done that, got the (puke stained) t-shirt, here are my top tips for single mums returning to work.
1. Spend time figuring out the childcare that is right for you.
There are lots of different options and plenty of resources which give fantastic practical advice on what to consider when choosing childcare and questions to ask when you’re visiting potential providers. Let baby have as many settling-in sessions as possible.
2. Establish realistic expectations with your employer.
It helps to keep in touch with your employer whilst on maternity leave. Make sure you have a direct conversation before you return to work, not only to agree your working hours, but also to manage expectations. Be realistic about travelling, unsocial hours and being on-call.
3. Have a Plan B.
Know what you’ll do if baby is unwell or if your childcare provider becomes unavailable. Friends and family are a fantastic source of support and most employers will allow for emergency family leave.
4. Accept that a routine will take time.
This is a big change for both you and baby and it will be exhausting and seem impossible at first! Make the effort to be organised and prepare the night before – it will make getting ready in the morning a lot less stressful.
5. Be open to change.
When we think about the future, most of us have an idea of how we’d like things to work out, although the reality often turns out to be quite different. Take each day as it comes and don’t be afraid to make changes for yourself and baby. This could mean working flexi-time or changing your work hours or job role.
6. Stay ambitious!
Don’t be disheartened if you pass up career development and opportunities that you may have jumped on before. You will have to explore different approaches to things you want to achieve. Things may come to you more slowly and with more work, but they can still be done.
7. Make time for yourself.
Between being an employee and being a mum, it can be easy to neglect taking time out for yourself. Whether it is exercise, a good book or a night out with the girls, you will function much better if you have had time to unwind.
8. Have faith in the choices you make.
Opinions on parenting are just that – opinions, no matter who they come from. Take advice but trust your own instinct when it comes to making decisions about balancing life and work. This is your life and this is your baby. Remember that no one is in a better position to make the best possible choices for him than you are.