Striking the right work/life balance is key for working mums

by: Susie O’Brien, From: Herald Sun, June 06, 20128:31AM

DO you look forward to your bikini wax as “me time”, as one friend said recently?

If so, something is probably wrong with your work/life balance (or you’ve spent too much time reading 50 Shades of Grey).

On the upside, you get half an hour to yourself, but the price you pay is a woman pouring hot wax on your privates.

As a mother-of-three who also works the equivalent of a full-time job in newspapers, TV and radio, I know first hand how much of a struggle the juggle can be.

As someone who can never resist a good story, half the time I end up banging out a yarn or column on my official days off. This often means interviewing someone important with my son in the background yelling: “Finished my pooh mum, come and wipe my bottom”, or something equally embarrassing.

But at least I get the chance to both work and care for our kids – even if it means I’m often emailing at 10.30 at night instead of watching Revengeand moderating blogs on the phone while doing school pickup

mums@work Director Emma Walsh is dead right when she says flexibility is the real life saver for many families.

And yet did you know you have a legal right to ask for reasonable flexibility at work if you have a child under 6 or a child with a disability under 18?

Probably not.

And did you also know that bosses are required to grant such a request unless there’s a genuine business reason to say no?

Probably not.

It’s no wonder that only one in three women ask for change in their work arrangements to make it easier for them to looking after their kids.

But it’s worthwhile asking, given that two-thirds of such requests are granted, according to the latest Australian Work and Life Index survey.

There are moves afoot federally to extend this Fair Work Act provision to all carers and all parents, regardless of the age of the child. Of course, this move is being opposed by employer groups.

However, this is really shortsighted because some of the most loyal, productive employees around are women who are grateful they are able to hold down a decent job and look after their kids at the same time.

Women who work part time or have to leave work early a few days a week to get the kids from school get very good at making the most of their work time.

And if they’re lucky, there’s time at the end of the week for a hot wax torture session – otherwise known as “me time”.