We have a thought-provoking guest post today from a high-flying career woman, MagficFM radio presenter Angie Greaves, who chose to give up a prestigious job to stay at home with her children. Having left the world of work to stay at home full-time with my children, I heartily agree with her. If we choose to have children then they should come first, no question. What do you think?
Why I believe women should put family ahead of career – and what happened when I put my children first…
by Angie Greaves, radio presenter MagicFM
As a woman I am passionate about women being empowered to have the career of their dreams. And as a mother I strongly believe that women should not feel guilty if they decide to adapt their careers in order to put their children first.
I believe that parents have a responsibility to their children to give them the best start in life and, in order to do that they need to be there for them, so flexibility in the work place is a must if women are to feel empowered as parents as well as professionally. For some there really isn’t an option, but hiring a nanny and disappearing off to work is not giving children the attention they need and deserve – having done this myself earlier in my career, I have seen the effects first hand with my own children.
The common practice is to “be there” for your children when they are little, so ensuring that pre-school, nursery and reception through to Year 6 is covered, and then we causally let them “grow up” when the high school years kick in.
I’m all for that, however, additional support is required by parents as the transition from Year 6 to high school Year7 can be difficult. Upon leaving Junior School Year 6’s they are the eldest, and boy do they let you know it, however, once they step over the threshold into the world of the high school, they become the youngest and a new set of life skills and social skills need to be adopted. This is when a different relationship between parent and child arises. It can be extremely overwhelming for an 11year old to walk down a corridor with 16year olds - who can look huge and quite intimidating!
A parent’s physical presence cannot not be replaced and is essential, nothing can take the place of a mother actually being there – nothing at all. With bullying on the rise, a child coming home to an empty house at 4pm which remains empty until after 7pm, 8pm or even 9pm can lead to increased loneliness. This is especially the case when physical and verbal bullying has taken place at school and then continues into the evening in the form of cyber bullying. Unless we are present as parents how can we monitor changes in our children’s behaviour, language, dress sense, eating habits etc?
In my career I decided to adapt my work life to function in harmony with my role as a mum to two girls. I presented the prestigious ‘Drivetime’ slot on Magic Radio, which was the most listened to in London and I was honoured to be the slot’s first solo female presenter. The Drive Time show starts at 5pm and finishes at 8pm.
I loved my time hosting the Drivetime slot, but with that job came unsociable hours especially including travel time, which can make home life challenging when you have small children to look after, so I made the decision to hand over the Drivetime crown and embark on a new challenge looking after the early afternoon slot, which enabled me to do the school run in the morning and be there for homework and family time in the evening.
I understand that some parents don’t have the option to change their work around their family life, however if it’s possible, I believe it can make a substantial and positive difference to the happiness and wellbeing of your brood. Now I’m able to be home and enjoy quality time with my family as well as have a fulfilling and flexible working life.
In my opinion having the flexibility to make your professional life work around your family is the perfect mix and will hopefully give our children the best start in life.
When I shifted my career in favour of my children I saw a complete change in both my daughters. The transformation was amazing.
My younger daughter blossomed in her performing arts classes and I’m convinced that my elder daughter passed all 10 of her GCSE’s because we were engaging earlier in the evening and then she went on to do her homework. It was as if me being there gave her the opportunity to share and offload her hectic day at school and she could then take on her work load with a clear head.
There is so much distraction for teenagers, and they may find you challenging, annoying or even boring – so it’s good to give them the right amount of space to develop and grow. However, being there and your children knowing that you are there to support them is the key.
So don’t neglect your children in favour of your career. As a parent our biggest responsibility is to our children while they are growing up – so women should not feel guilty about making changes in their careers in favour of time with the family – especially when you have teenagers!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angie Greaves is an Award Winning and Sony nominated icon of British radio with over 25 years’ experience. Angie currently presents one of London’s most popular afternoon shows; ‘Afternoons of Magic’ on MagicFM, and on Saturday evenings Angie can be heard presenting ‘Soul Town – the best of Motown and Soul’. Angie has won the CTO Caribbean Tourism Organisation Award for her radio show on British Airways and her services to travel and promoting the Caribbean as a tourist destination. Angie is a working mother and is keen to encourage women not to feel ‘down-graded’ if they decide to re-position their career in order to put their family first.
For more information see www.angiegreaves.com or find her on Twitter.