Christmas - when two worlds collide
A shoutout to all working parents at this joyous time of year!
Rosie Anderson, Cyber Manager at Outsource UK, writes:
"I have always loved Christmas; the festive feelings, the time off with family and friends, the songs, the food and drink you associate with Christmas, the will it/ won't it snow, and the goodwill to each and every one!
For the past few years in the Cyber market there is a ramp up at this time; clients need to use up their budget, or headcount targets, and clear their desks with roles for the new year (which then means the beginning of Jan is also manic!) Then there’s Christmas lunches or drinks with candidates and clients and a festive buzz in the office with Secret Santa’s and Christmas Parties - which are always fun but which can mean long days and overnights etc.
I may be a seasoned Recruiter, but I'm relatively new to the joys of nursery/ school age parenting. My child is 3 and I work full time but this is the first year I've experienced the Christmas parties at nursery (with parental invitations), the visits with Santa, the Christmas photos (why do they tell you on the day?), the week of Christmas clothes or Christmas jumper day (is this special kind of hell reserved for only our nursery?), and the Christmas cards for class mates (Seriously?! I don’t even write Christmas cards for my office mates!) and then there’s the presents for the teachers. There's also the germs at this time of year - if it’s not office cold and flu, it’s Norovirus or Chicken Pox going around the nursery and a prayer to the #workingparentgod that neither of us succumb! Not to mention fitting in the Christmas shopping for said 3 year old (which can't be done at weekends with said child who still believes Santa is bringing them all down our chimney on Christmas Eve) and then lots of other lists of ‘to dos’ I have at this time of year. And on top of all that, I am well aware this will become more demanding with school plays etc. as he becomes school age, and I only have the one child to navigate around.
I've read recently that we are expected to work like we don't have children but parent like we don't work, and although I don't agree 100% with this I think this is something for employers and colleagues to consider for any working parent, especially during busy periods. I don't know if it is a generational thing, but my parents and in-laws don't always understand why I choose to work full time (and then some) and in a demanding career that means pressure, targets, taking calls out of hours and attending events over evenings. Is this the curse of Generation Y? Are we trying to do it all and do it all perfectly? And if we are, maybe we need to take a leaf out of Gloria Steinem’s book “You can't do it all. No one can have two full-time jobs, have perfect children and cook three meals and be multi-orgasmic 'til dawn”.
I am sure that Recruitment isn't the only career like this, and I'm lucky to have a supportive and flexible employer and more to the point, I love being in recruitment; constantly learning about the market and helping candidates with their careers and clients with their hiring headaches. I love the feeling of job satisfaction I get when I place a great candidate, but there's also lows like in any job (and any working parent will tell you that coming home and resting after hard day just isn’t an option.) I also love being a parent - my little boy is at a fabulous age where Christmas is magical and he's changing every day and I know this magic won’t last forever. But being a working parent can be taxing at this time of year, and there is constant guilt - Are we missing out at home? Does he keep crying after I leave him at nursery? Are we doing enough in the office? Am I pulling my weight in the team? Will he be the only child with Grandparents at bring an adult to Christmas lunch day?
According to a Harvard Business Review study quoted in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In; there's no need to worry. “...parents who work outside the home are still capable of giving their children a loving and secure childhood. Some data even suggest that having two parents working outside the home can be advantageous to a child's development, particularly for girls.”. Great - nothing to feel guilty for! But that guilt often comes from the judgements of others.
So if I had one Christmas wish it would be that we're kind to each other. Everyone is juggling multiple commitments at this time of year, and you never know what your colleagues are battling with, so please be kind to your colleagues and to your employees. Look out for one another, and be aware of the colleagues that seem quieter than normal with the "stiff upper lip" as this may not be the case. The joy of the holidays can be stressful, not just to working parents but to anyone who's lost a loved one or struggles for any reason at Christmas.
At this festive time, in a world where you can be anything, please, at the very least, be kind!"
Outsource UK - taking care of everything - and Season's Greetings to you!