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The millennials’ conflict: Marriage, motherhood & careers

perfect happy family with woman doing and having it all

We want it all. In fact, some of us are encouraged to go for it all. Why not aim high? Aim for the husband, the babies and the top position in that company and all before you’re 35. There are women out there doing it. Why can’t you?

Can we all do it all?

It would seem that more and more, Western millenials want to know that we’re financially secure before we settle down and therefore also before we have children. Chasing the money tends to affect when and if we settle down unless we decide to aim instead to find life partners who are financially secure enough to take care of us so that money is never a worry. Interestingly, millenial men are also looking for women who can do it all – make money to help support the family and have as many children to carry on their legacy as they’d like.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

We know women do manage to do this but are all women capable of it? Might it be asking too much of some women? Despite battling with these questions, the majority of women largely still see marriage as a goal to be attained. It’s funny then that even if we do aim for marriage, a lot of females would choose to remain single and take care of themselves if we are wealthy enough to do so.

We’re all narcissists

Studies are blaming narcissism for this. We’re apparently the “GenMe” bunch. That’s difficult to argue with. In these social media’d out times, where you’re made to feel like your brand is more important than your soul, it’s hard for us to dedicate ourselves to anything that won’t bring us some form of instant gratification. You might have heard that marriage is hard work. Well, it’s true. It’s about two people and the average millennial may be too wrapped up in themselves to do the hard work that’s required to keep a marriage together. Narcissism could be to blame for the rate of divorce appearing to increase globally each year amongst us millennials. I don’t know about that explanation though. It might be a bit too simplistic.

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

It can be a lot

Before you have children, you can think you have a concept of just how tough it can be; but you don’t. To mother and partner at the same time isn’t easy especially in the earlier years but throw in managing a career as well and it can start to feel like too much. Being a mummy on social media myself, I would say that a more honest narrative about motherhood is being pushed lately because I see more photos on IG, for example, of mothers in real life – bed hair all day, vomit on clothes and a less-than-tidy home are all being shown online. I appreciate photos like those because it’s important for younger females to see that #momlife can’t always be glamorous. Most of it isn’t.

Sometimes though, I’m not sure if I’m seeing these realistic images because I go looking for them. Maybe young women are still being presented with an effortless looking, picture perfect version in squares (IG) of successful women with their husbands and children. It’s concerning to think that any younger women are basing their decisions about when or if to settle down on the images that are pushed at them online. We should never be fooled into thinking it’s easy to “have it all”.

I know the fight is conventionally for women to have it all but apart from wondering whether we can do it all, I sometimes think, do we still really want to have it all?

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How to decline requests for professional help

professional meet up for a coffee

One answer: be empathetic.

It’s a privilege to have someone reach out to you in a professional capacity for advice, guidance or to share ideas. It shows that you’ve proven you’re an expert in something. They think they can learn something from you. Enjoy the feeling. Let it get to your head if you want but don’t let it end there.

LinkedIn message

No need to treat people like they’re a bother. In the photo above, my friend reached out to someone twice and that was the person’s response. A few weeks after the first message. If you’ve seen the message and know you’re going to have the decline to meet up, for example, don’t wait two weeks to send your reply. It’s unfair and unnecessary.

He wasn’t about to ask for a mentor as such. It was more of an idea sharing session that he wanted. That response would have been fine if it, say, went on to offer the name of someone else who might have been able to help my friend or asked him to write to her again in X number of months when she may be less busy. My friend made it clear exactly what he wanted to discuss with her but in a case where you’re unsure what someone wants to professionally meet up for, don’t be afraid to ask them to explain or specify. Let them know that should you manage to meet or mentor them, it will help you prepare useful answers for their questions. You can then use their reply to decide whether you want to accept their invitation.

One thing you mustn’t do in these circumstances is to say an outright no and leave someone with nothing but a shutdown. For a lot of people, it takes courage to reach out like this. At the very least, close off the message with some encouraging words and no, “all the best with your entrepreneurial activities” is not good enough.

Oh, and if it’s someone of the opposite sex reaching out to you on a site like LinkedIn as it was in this case, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the message is anything but professional. There are people who use LinkedIn as a dating site but I’m sure the majority of people are there to make career connections.

While this person owes my friend nothing, I still find it very disappointing. What do you think?

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5 Steps to the Perfect Job hopping CV

It’s easier to find a job independently in some parts of the world than it is in others. In those places where you can find multiple job options online, it may seem like an attractive option to move between jobs till you find what’s best for you and I wrote about that here a while ago. Yes, if you’re like me, adjusting to a new work environment ever so often is not daunting if it’s for a great reason like better money or a higher position in your field.

However, it’s not easy to do. Like applying for any job, at any time, and even with the perfect qualifications and experience, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a call back for interview. UNLESS you do the following:

  1. Highlight any accomplishments. Dazzle your potential employer with what you’ve achieved so far. This takes the focus away from how many roles you made those achievements in. The important thing is what you can do, not how many places you’ve shone in. In fact, create an achievements section on your CV if you have enough to make a list and let that section take the lead.
  2. Tell the truth. This should go without saying. Your potential employer is not stupid. While you don’t want them to think you only care about money, you also don’t want to seem like you’ve been switching jobs frequently for no particular reason. Give a good, solid and truthful reason for each move. Especially where you were forced to switch through no fault of your own, for example, a downsizing, be sure to say so.
  3. Pay attention to your employment dates. Much like the first point, there’s no need to draw attention to your length of stay at each job. Use years only and not exact dates. This gives a CV reviewer a fair idea of when you were in your previous roles but it shouldn’t be until they meet you that they have the chance to delve into exact dates and why.
  4. Have a clear and succinct personal statement. Say exactly who you are based on your work experience, what you can offer and exactly what you want. Don’t be shy. For example, if you need a part time role to fit your mummy life, state so on your CV – “Searching for a part time role…”. You are very unlikely to get what you don’t ask for.
  5. Skimp on the skimpy information. What I mean is, it is unnecessary to list two waitressing jobs you had for a total of two weeks while looking for a job in your engineering field. They’re irrelevant to any recruiter or company looking at your CV. Take those off and bring them up in interview if you think you need to. Also, go ahead and combine two roles if they were consecutive and made up of exactly the same duties.

You may notice that the basic message here is to not waste any reader’s time! Let them know within a minute of looking at your CV that they at least want to meet you, even if not give you the job on the spot.Ideally, you should also be editing your CV to suit each role you apply for. In the process of editing, one thing you mustn’t forget is GRAMMAR. This is so important for any CV…

It helps to have a second eye and I can help with that. If you’d like a brief CV review as a job hopper or even a contractor looking to go permanent, send your CV through here and I will get back to you ASAP with some suggestions!

In the meantime, share this post with any job seekers you know – hoppers or not!

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Strong Mama Moves

Do you remember feeling an immediate bond with your baby

I spoke to Ruby as soon as I knew she was in my tummy (4wks preggo) so yes, I felt like she was my best friend who I had to protect with my life from then. ️

Breastmilk vs. formula 

Fed is best for sure.  I was very fortunate to find breastfeeding easily natural to me and managed to maintain breastfeeding until 8 months through terrible chronic insomnia and post natal depression and mourned breastfeeding when I had to stop. I combination fed my daughter from 6 months to take some pressure off myself as pumping just garnered next to zero milk for me.

Mental and emotional welfare post-baby

I had a really rough time as a single mum who’d lost both of her parents and eventually had to become estranged from remaining family who abandoned me in post natal depression.  I fought hard to get the support I needed as there were quite a few balls dropped in the early days.  I have a blog that talks about my struggles in pregnancy and postpartum: https://beingmamabearuk.blogspot.com) I swear by exercise, eating well and a chosen support network plus counselling to get through tough times. I’m developing a programme on this (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strongmamamoves-on-introducing-myself/id1457458172).

Sleep deprivation

I developed chronic insomnia leaving me sleeping 2hrs a night from the emotional pain of being left alone in pregnancy. The best way to deal with sleep deprivation is to fake it till you make it, understand you will sleep again and you will survive on that little sleep even if it feels rubbish. If you keep exercising and eating well you can much better manage your moods and wellbeing.

Weaning

My daughter is 13 months old so yes she is weaned.  My thoughts are to just do your best. They will eat what and when they want so try not to panic if they have days they’re less hungry. They may have sore teeth or be feeling off.  Easier said than done.

How did you turn to personal training as a career? 

I’ve been a personal trainer for a decade, so I was a trainer long before becoming a mother. I love feeling strong and fit and I enjoy helping others to enjoy fitness and eating well as much as I do by helping in changing people’s mindsets and taking away ridiculous diets.

Your experience as a single mummy thus far

I’ve been a single mum since pregnancy, of course it is hard work but it’s also hugely rewarding.  I’m lucky to have a good support network around me but it has been rocky at times.  At the end of the day, motherhood is tough for all of us. It’s relative to what we know 🙂 From working closely with other mums, I know that we’re all doing the best job we can.

Amanda and 13 month old Ruby are based in Aberdeen, Scotland
Follow and learn more about her
here and here
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How to be taken seriously at work

Despite what some people may say, being a woman in the corporate world can be challenging. I could tell you some horror stories of colleagues and friends being treated in the most outrageous ways in the workplace. They were usually left wondering what they might have done or said to make people think they were easy targets. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for people to think they can disregard anyone but it’s important to handle it especially well in the workplace.

As I said in a previous post, I’ve moved around quite a bit. This means that I’ve had the opportunity to observe the way that women – including myself – are viewed in the various places I’ve worked in. I’ve learned a few lessons about how to attempt to be taken seriously.

Things you should avoid
  • Sucking up. To some extent, asserting yourself at work can look like sucking up but there’s a big difference. While this may get into the good books of a certain kind of boss, the more emotionally intelligent individual may well be put off by it. Some of your colleagues, even if they’re amused by it, will also probably find you annoying because of it. Even if they’re doing it too. It can be very easy to see when someone is being false to get in their boss’s good books.
  • Mixing business with pleasure. Certainly it’s important for team building to get to know your colleagues on a bit more than a superficial level. Yet, you have to draw a line! Don’t get drunk with your colleagues if you can help it and absolutely don’t go sleeping with anyone you know you’ll have to see at the desk next to you at 9am tomorrow morning! Unless you’re already married to them…
  • Saying yes to everything. People will respect you more if you’re able to respectfully but firmly decline tasks that mean you overbook yourself. It’s all part of time management and prioritisation. As much as it feels good to agree to help everyone with everything, it’s also unrealistic. Also, be willing to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed.
  • Excessive displays of emotion. Okay so this is very subjective. I’m a bit cautious with this one because I’m against anyone stifling their feelings. I’m especially against women stifling their emotions for any reason. Perhaps the key is rather to be careful with how you communicate your emotions.
  • Gossiping. It’s so easy to get drawn into this. Especially if you like a bit of chin wag or are genuinely chatting with people in small groups in an effort to figure out the dynamics of a new job or team. It helps to keep in mind that if they’ll gossip with you, they’ll gossip about you! If you have issues with anyone, take it up with them directly and privately.

Things you should do

  • Speak up about inappropriate behaviour towards you. If you are certain it is inappropriate. Use your common sense and be discerning but don’t be afraid to let people know if you don’t appreciate some attitudes or actions towards you. Stand up for yourself.
  • Please don’t be that chatterbox at work who goes on about each and every thought that enters your head. Honestly, I’ve found such people entertaining at work but not everyone does. You’ll gain more respect if you speak more when you have something valuable to say. Watch what you say and who you’re saying it to.
  • Be quick to take up any opportunities for employee development. It shows your possible dedication to the organisation and makes you a valuable employee as you’re constantly building on your skillset.
  • Look professional. Even on a dress down day, don’t go to work looking like you just got out of bed.
  • Find a mentor. Look for someone who’s at thee level that you want to get to and figure out how they got there. Better yet, get them to teach you how.

Do you have any additional tips? Or have you had any experience with not being taken seriously at work? What happened and what steps did you take to change things?