Finding the Balance

Sarah Mitchell - CurrentBody Senior Designer

As we continue our series on women in business, we spoke to our senior designer Sarah. Coming from a traditional design background, Sarah’s career has enabled her to explore a range of working options, from corporate culture to becoming freelance. Here she shares her thoughts on finding the right work/life balance and the benefits of flexible working.

As a working mum, what is your biggest professional achievement to date?

This is a hard question to put into one singular answer, so I’m breaking it down into 3!
Prior to having my little girl, I was a design manager in a large creative department within a huge organisation. I had a team of up to 12 designers, this was a challenge I thrived on. Working with various degrees of experience to encourage growth & experience whilst managing workloads, overseeing creative work & planning & art directing photo shoots.
Once I had my little girl, I had the opportunity to go freelance. This in itself was a huge achievement as I quickly gained loyal clients which gave me a fantastic work/life balance.
More recently, I have taken a full-time, e-commerce senior designer role. This has been a steep learning curve, coming from a ‘classic’ design background. Whilst this has been one of the most challenging roles to date, it has pushed my skills. I feel a great sense of achievement with how much knowledge I have gained as well as making a big difference to the look of the website in a short period of time.

For you, what is the one thing a professional environment should offer a mum?

I think it’s important to a working mum that a company is open to a certain amount of flexibility, helping with the juggle of drop offs, pick ups & ad-hoc childcare issues. In an ideal world, a company should be open to the idea of part-time, or reduced hours, even if this means working at home to make any time up. This would help a working mum have a better work/life balance, therefore have a happier work-life! An appreciation that you can’t work late every night as you have to / want to get home to your little one. In my experience, working mums are excellent at time management (you have to be!).

Working Mums - Sarah, CurrentBody Senior Designer

How do you manage the “juggle”?

Organisation is absolutely key! When I was freelance, childcare was always a juggle as I didn’t always know week to week which days I would be working (thankfully her nursery was VERY flexible in swapping days).

Now that I’m full-time, I know what’s happening with childcare each day.  Each night I prepare for the next day: Where is she going? What will she need? Who will be taking/picking her up?

I also get her clothes ready, although she regularly dismisses my suggestion & chooses her own!

What’s the one secret you think all working mums should know about?

Get a cleaner! Honestly, if you can I’d say it’s worth every penny. Weekends are precious time with your family, you don’t want to spend it cleaning! As I don’t generally get home from work until 6pm, I only have an hour with her before bedtime. I avoid any housework etc until she’s in bed so that hour is quality time spent with her.

What are your future career goals?

In my current role, I want to build a strong team of in-house designers as there is huge potential to really strengthen the creative both online & offline. I love managing creative teams so I have an ambition that the business will grow in such way that this will become a necessity.

In a world of busy online media, do you have any go-to resources to make mum-life easier?

Netmums is a popular site although personally, I keep an eye on local Facebook pages that are aimed towards mums. There are always suggestions of where to go, upcoming child-friendly events, even health-related issues.
Click here to continue the series and read Emily’s interview.
March 13, 2018