Industry: Service / Careers & Employment
How would you best describe yourself?
I'm Stacey. Boy mum of two (just turned one and nearly five). Wife. Self-employed business owner. Certified Advanced Resume Writer. A poster girl for coffee. Reno show tragic.
I'm your typical workaholic - I'm never satisfied with sitting still! I love solving problems and helping people and this is how I came to be in HR career originally - matching people and skills with jobs was my strength. Fast forward a handful of years, I launched my business, The Resume Creative, in a blind panic from my kitchen table when my eldest was 18 months old. My husband - whose secure income of nearly a decade supported our family while I was on maternity leave - came to an unexpected end with a decline in the mining industry. I had to get scrappy, and with my knowledge of recruitment processes and employer expectations, I began resume writing. I didn't expect my survival job to turn into one that I truly love, and driven to continually improve, I became one of 16 resume writers in Australia to earn Certified Advanced Resume Writer status. I started this study at 10 weeks and finished 37 weeks into a complicated pregnancy... I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I'm so glad I did and survived!
Balancing self-employment while playing Lego and keeping two boys alive has been equally challenging as it has been rewarding... But I wouldn't have it any other way.
How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?
Becoming a mum has completely changed my perception of work. I was raised by my mother who was a sole parent and stay-at-home mum, so I didn't really have an understanding of working mothers or the challenges they face growing up. Motherhood, however, has shaped what I value about work, and given what I do far more meaning.
There's so much pressure on working mums to be the career woman and the stay-at-home mum... all at once. Someone once said "we expect mothers to work like they don't have children, and raise children like they don't work".
What has surprised me the most is the societal attitudes toward working mums. The outdated systems really aren't set up to support them. There's a strange two-speed attitude toward mums; they are expected to work, but also not given effective tools or systems to help them. Among them: discriminatory employer attitudes, outdated parental working arrangements, childcare headaches, wage disparity... the list could go on. The reality of the challenges working mothers face and overcome are both sobering but also awe-inspiring. The fact women with families go out there every day to provide for their families and better their future in spite of the hurdles they face is truly a credit to them all.
After talking with hundreds of mums about their post-motherhood job search challenges (and having experienced them myself!), I decided to put all my knowledge into one place to help them all and created a course to guide them back to the workplace. Any mum would tell you all the reasons why their child is talented, yet doing the same for themselves is such a challenge! I find this totally unacceptable and have made it my mission to help mums both realise and communicate their value and general awesomeness to new prospective employers.
What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?
I'd tell myself that you don't have to have it all worked out straight away. I felt an immense pressure to have all the things running like clockwork on day one back to work. It. Won't. Happen!
Give yourself time to find a new groove and work it all out. There will be teething problems, they are a given, but just like when there were ACTUAL teething problems (hello 1-year-old molars!), it passed. It was a phase, just like when you are first returning to work. Things will get easier with time, you'll work out your new normal as you go.
Take time out, accept that sh*t happens sometimes, and even when all the balls you have in the air fall down sometimes, know it will all be ok and will work out just fine.
What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy / leave / returning to work? How have you overcome this?
I've faced many challenges on the road to becoming a working mum.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my employer told me that my work choices were "full-time or no time"... they closed down 5 months into my maternity leave.
I had a 3-day labour with my first which triggered a host of health issues - thyroidism, adrenal fatigue and a birth injury thrown in for good measure - which heavily impacted me for nearly a year after he was born. My husband became redundant twice before my eldest second birthday. I had a complicated second pregnancy, and again, a tough recovery thanks to that troublesome thyroid.
Two things got me through these challenging times: swallowing my pride and getting help, and turning each challenge into an opportunity to find gratitude.
I didn't have a large family to call upon for help, and my husband worked long hours, so I had to find other ways to tackle the enormous load. If you feel like you're drowning, often it's small solutions that lift big weights. If you're struggling to get a wholesome meal on the table every night, use a meal delivery service. If you can't see the carpet for crumbs and toys, hire a cleaning service to help. Take those time consuming tasks or those weighing heavy on you, and get help. I'll bet for the small cost the freedom from that stress and spending time with your family instead is a very worthwhile investment.
As for looking for the silver lining in each storm cloud... we really don't appreciate what we have until we're tested. It takes practice, but finding positives in negatives is freeing and helps gain perspective when we could otherwise go on a Netflix and Cadbury bender every other day. Always remember that someone else would give anything to have your health, healthy and educated kids, a roof over their head, food in their belly, an income that buys fun experiences and supports their family. Changing this mindset was a game changer and I'm a far happier person for it... Really, when you step back, often what we perceive to be our worst days are someone else's best ones. Gratitude is the key to happiness.
What strategies / initiatives do you use to help you manage the juggle of being a Working Mumma and family?
I take each day as it comes, which is pretty counterintuitive to all that advice that says planning is a working mum's best friend! I'm not saying don't plan anything... Obviously, work clothes and school lunches are non-negotiables, but I'm talking about bigger plans. Financial, health, travel, house, career goals and the like.
I found that planning - or rather sticking to rigid plans - was a recipe for stress and anxiety when things didn't go the way I wanted. And you know what? Things hardly ever do go to plan in life! I didn't schedule in the hospital stays when my son got third-degree burns, or when I got meningitis, or when my husband came home one day, redundant after 10 years in his job. As mums, we become experts at rolling with the punches and facing challenges as they are thrown at us, so if planning things to a T doesn't work for you - don't fight it. As a Type A planner-holic, this was a hard change to accept myself, however fighting to stick to plans while life throws inevitable twists and turns which caused stress, guilt, worry, frustration - I ended up getting nowhere but all twisted up in the process. It just isn't worth it!
Set goals, but be flexible in how you go about achieving them, and forgive yourself if things don't go at the speed you want them to. Slow progress is still progress; you might not reach your goals as quickly as you'd like, however, there's little point in doing anything if you aren't enjoying life in the process.
Be an example for your kids - show them what it looks like for someone to find joy in the process of doing something, just as much as you do when you arrive at the destination. So enjoy the ride, and more importantly, enjoy your family and life you're working hard to create for them.