YES: Becky Considine, virtual assistant (freelance administative expert), mum of two

Oxford Mail:

SINCE the age of 16 I’ve worked, although I had always wanted children, I wasn’t blessed until the age of 40.

In those 24 years not once did I think about how I would manage work and children.

After having my first daughter in 2010, I took a year out to devote time to my daughter, then returned to my NHS executive assistant position on a job share basis reducing my hours to 22.5 per week.

This seemed manageable with early mornings getting Mia to where she needed to be and a quick dash home to try to maintain her routine that had been formed.

The 22.5 hours flew by each week, neither enabled me to give 100 per cent as I was always rushing around to get things done.

After a few months of being back in the working environment I discovered I was pregnant again, and after the birth of my second daughter Isla, decided again to take the year out.

Coming towards the end of my maternity leave I had to make some serious career and life-changing decisions based around my family.

I decided to utilise my skills and set up my own virtual assistant business, OXVAS (Oxford Virtual Assistant Service), enabling me to work from home, be around for my family and see my daughters grow, whilst being in control of my own career and destiny.

I am not and never could be a stay at home mum, it’s just not me.

I have more to offer and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to be shared and utilised.

I need to work not only for financial reasons but because I enjoy it and love what I do. By choosing to become a Virtual Assistant I am not restricted to a nine to five schedule I have flexibility in the days and hours that I work and this can include evenings and weekends.

By doing what I do, it enables me to spend quality time with my girls, doing the school run, going to sports days, eating together, school holidays and so on, and still be financially independent.

I have been nominated for the Venus Awards Business Mother of the Year – what a fantastic accolade if I were to make it to the finals.

Because I work is that justification for an award? No, but if you were to ask how do you manage your work, change career, start a business, stay motivated and still be there to nurture young children then yes possibly.

I am proud to have had the courage to change my career for the benefit of my children.

‘Business or pleasure?’ I would happily be able to say I have a great balance of both.

NO: Stephanie Ballard, mum of three 

Oxford Mail:

I AM a stay at home mum with three children; Max, aged eight, Josh, seven, and four-year-old Lacey.

I chose to be a stay at home mum after having Lacey, before that I used to work during the day and my husband Barry would work nights.

This meant that our children only saw one of us at a time and we never had any family time.

It also meant Barry and I rarely saw each other, so when I found I was pregnant with my daughter we decided I was going to stop working because his job brought in most money.

Because I was going to be having a baby, it made more sense for him to carry on working – however we decided that he needed a job throughout the day.

He found a better job that could support us all.

Being a stay at home mum is the best thing I have ever done.

It means I am here to ensure my children eat good home-made meals, prepared with time and love.

I also pick them up and take them to school and I have time to take them to after- school clubs, youth clubs and any other activities they want to do.

This has created a fantastic bond between me and my children.

They understand that dad works to bring in money and mum makes sure the home is clean.

They never have to go to childcare after school, they can come home and spend time together.

You could argue this is anti- feminist, but it makes sense this way. If I earned more money it may have been the other way around and we would have been happy with that too.

Being at home does not make me lazy it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world and you do it for love not money.

With being at home I have been able to pursue things I enjoy doing. I make cakes for people and I have also set up a community group, which I am very hands-on with, so I don’t sit watching television all day. I work really hard voluntarily for my community.

When my daughter is in full-time school when she turns five, I have the option of working term-time only with hours that suit me, but I will not jeopardise my children’s happiness or health.

After all, they are only children for a small part of their life and there is plenty of time when they grow up for me to work.

In the meantime I am happy to be a good mum – one that’s willing to make sacrifices to ensure my children are taken care of by their mum and not in child care or being pushed from pillar to post.


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