Article from The North East Times

Is it possible to juggle parenthood and work?  Gywneth Paltrow recently commented: “women who want children should be stay at home mothers”. Although her statement suggests Gywneth is somewhat divorced from the reality of most people’s lives she sparked off renewed debate for parents: to work or not to work.

After having my first child seven years ago I have worked part-time and flexibly to various degrees. There are frequent articles in the media suggesting that the drop- out rate for female lawyers in the big companies is high suggesting that the demands of the job are incompatible with having a family life. This does not have to be so. At Major Family law, several of us juggle parenthood and working. A number of factors can make this work and work well.  Of course the needs of different firms and individuals differ but with good communication arrangement can easily be put in place with benefits for the firm and the employee.

Improvements in IT mean that, if necessary, staff can work at home; increasing reliance on email enables work to be done remotely and at any time. Having excellent administrative support is vital. Equally a close team of colleagues with a willingness to assist each other is also essential.

Clients know I can be contacted if necessary if I am not in the office and likewise my colleagues. A willingness on behalf of employer and employee to be flexible is mutually beneficial.  If a meeting is scheduled on a day not normally worked it is often possible to readjust the working week.  Equally when there are school events on a working day a similar approach can be taken. My children are aware that there are ‘home days’ and ‘work days’ and rarely have I had to miss an important event. All these factors go towards reducing anxiety and boosting morale in terms of balancing work and family life.  Such an approach is motivating for staff who know that a value is placed on their family life which in turn increases productivity and commitment.  Good flexible working practices mean part time working can be effective and certainly not a compromised position. Major Family Law is a good example of demonstrating that with a bit of imagination and understanding a fulfilling career without diminishing one’s role in family life is entirely possible. And for many working Mum’s I am sure the words of Margaret Culkin Banning ring true, “She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.”