Family & Work

Back to School

So, we made it. The children are back at school – all kitted out smartly with new Clarks shoes, Smiggle rucksacks and Messi football boots (as in Lionel Messi, ‘the greatest footballer who ever lived’ as my son tells me; not an old pair of boots still baked in mud from last term) – and another Summer Holiday is over.

It’s always a strange time of year; these first few days just after the six week break. I was going to say six, long weeks – and there’s the contradiction.

The Summer is a wonderfully enriching time for mothers, giving us so much time to spend together with our children, but it is a busy and exhausting time too, as the practicalities of organising clubs, day trips, sleepovers and family holidays gradually takes its toll.

But now school has started we are ‘free’ again between 9 and 3.15, Monday to Friday, and, as our own person, we quickly and guiltily start to enjoy this freedom. You go for coffee, catch up on emails in the Moondance Cafe (that’s where I go), listen to the chit chat of sun-tanned mums (“where did you go?”), and start to relax into life sans children (“we went to France”).

At home, you really sense and enjoy the calm and the quiet that suddenly descends. The house feels silent. In the kitchen you can hear every tick of the clock, every text message ping and, for the first time in weeks, every word Jenni Murray says on Woman’s Hour.

The house that appeared to be – no, was – turned upside down in July and August is restored to its ‘Homes and Gardens’ glory once again in less than a day, when you’d convinced yourself you needed to bring in a construction team to cut into the grime that six weeks of children at home had created.

As you pack away the toys – the Monopoly and the Cluedo that you reached for during those rainy days, and the snorkels and masks from those beautiful days in the sun and the sea in Kefalonia, Majorca or the Isle de Re – warm and wonderful memories surround you, like a great family party, as your mind drifts back to the summer you have just had. No matter how exhausting the Summer holidays might be, of course you’d swap your new-found peace and quiet in a heartbeat to wind the clock back to July, to be with the children once more and ‘do it all again’ – packing the bags, getting up at 4 in the morning to catch the bargain flight, finding the hire car, finding the way out of the airport, going past Hertz for the fifth time as you try to find your way out of the airport, then finally arriving at your holiday home – your dream villa – with a pool that is about to splash with noise and laughter for two weeks, and a balcony where you’ll sit back with a book and a glass of wine at the end of the day. But, in early September, ‘doing it all again’ is not an option, which makes you miss the little ones even more. Back home, if you work your routine kicks in and the demands of your job take over. But if you’re not working right now, like I said, this can be a strange time of year.

I’ve always struggled with the concept that the time we spend on holiday is more precious than our everyday lives. It’s not. It’s a real treat to go to Greece, or Italy, or France, but we should value our everyday lives – our working life and our family life – in the same way.

That’s why flexible working is the perfect model, where you can build your career around yourself, your family and your clients. Flexible working is a real option if you want to combine the best of the Summer months – spending more time with your family – with the best of working life – stimulating challenges and real rewards. With the children now back at school, and the house restored, there is no better time than now to make your first move.

The benefits of working flexibly for you and your family are life-changing – allowing you to control the amount of hours you work. And the benefits for you and your clients are equally impressive. Statistics show flexible working boosts productivity, saves costs, attracts real talent and leads to healthier employees. That’s why business and society is really waking up to this modern change in working life.

In the legal sector Obelisk Support is leading the way in making flexible working a way of life for mothers, families and clients. Over 800 lawyers are now on the books, making Obelisk the largest pool of talented ex-City lawyers in the world. The company, which was founded in 2010 by Dana Denis-Smith, herself a mother and an ex-Linklaters lawyer, offers two ways for you to get back into work, and to perfect the art of flexible working.

First, you can join our team of talented lawyers. Obelisk is always on the look-out for great lawyers – from corporate and commercial to sector specific. If any of your friends are finance lawyers who are looking for exciting opportunities, then Obelisk would love to hear from them. Contact Jane, Recruitment Coordinator, on [email protected].

The second step you can take is to register for Obelisk’s Refresher Course, which helps women plan and prepare for returning to work. The course covers a range of key issues, from reminding yourself how to prepare for interviews and introducing yourself to potential clients, to what story you should tell people about you and your skills, to re-booting your confidence in the workplace, including style advice on what colours and clothes suit you best.

So, we no longer have to live with the extremes we feel at this time of year; that sense of loss after spending so much time with the children, mixed with enjoying the calm and quiet. Flexible working gives you family and career at the same time, all year round.

By Naomi

Naomi is a former BBC Producer, working in Documentaries, History and Current Affairs. A mother of three, all under 10, today Naomi runs Footprint Media, working with inspiring start-ups, and some of the world's largest brands, telling Business stories about innovation, sustainability and change.