The Harsh Truth About being a Working Mum in the Events Industry

Balancing life as a working Mum can be challenging.
I am certain that if you got a group of working mums in the events industry together, they would all have at least one war story of how their role as a caring, loving Mum has conflicted (or at least did when their kids were young) at times with also being a hard-working event professional.
They may reflect and laugh at the time they decided to take their newborn along to a meeting and had to ignore the fact the child had spewed down their cleavage and there was a sour smell wafting up as they engaged intelligently with their clients. Or perhaps grimace at the time they were away interstate for an event and their child was rushed to hospital and they were not there to give comforting cuddles. 

I’ve wanted to write about this topic for a long time, because I have seen many women struggle with maintaining the balance. It’s a personal topic, but in an industry full of women I feel it’s important to acknowledge that the harsh truth is, being a working Mum is difficult. Especially when your job requires you to be available – and by “be available” I mean work long hours, work out-of-hours and be responsive at the drop of a hat to client demands and needs. 
I have watched women leave the industry because the roles they returned to after maternity leave were no longer suitable or they were dumped with all the boring tasks in the office no one else wanted to do because they were now part-time. 
I have seen others leave due to stress and find new occupations in other industries. 
And, I have heard of many that changed job roles temporarily for a few years before returning to their original career path once their children started school.
None of this is necessarily bad – finding a balance that is right for you and your family is the ultimate goal. Changing roles for a few years while you have young children is OK, if that is what suits your lifestyle and goals. But what worries me is that as an industry we have been slow to assist women in maintaining an events career when they return from maternity leave. 
There is a need for our industry to be more supportive of part-time roles, job sharing and flexible working conditions. There are some event businesses that excel at this and others that struggle.

On reflecting about what makes it difficult to be a working Mum in the events industry I came up with five (I’m sure there are more!) harsh truths – feel free to add some of your own truths in the comments below. 

Five harsh truths about being a working Mum in the events industry…

1. Before becoming a Mum, you were prepared to give up your ’spare time’ for your job. Working late, long hours and on weekends was all part of the gig.
As a Mum you no longer have ANY spare time to give! Balancing the demands of a busy events role and being a Mum can be challenging at the best of times. 
2. Before becoming a Mum you were able to attend all your own events, plus networking events, client events and industry events. 
As a Mum, you now find yourself declining invitations to some pretty cool gigs. Or, if you’re determined (or contracted) to attend a particular event, you have to prepare your own mini-event schedule with at least a week’s notice to make it happen. And, you can forget about staying back for afterwork drinks or taking long lunches… those days are few and far between. 
3. Before becoming a Mum you had five days (minimum) a week to work and you were always available for your clients at the drop of a hat. 
As a Mum you often have to squeeze all your client-facing work into a few days a week and you’re now just as likely to turn up with a food stain on your clothes and a piece of cereal in your hair! 
4. Before becoming a Mum you thought that tiredness was going to bed after an event at 1am and being back in the office by 9am. 
As a Mum you would now do anything for an uninterrupted sleep that long! There is a new definition of tiredness… it’s called being a parent of young children.
5. Before becoming a Mum you thought travelling for work was great, but sometimes a bit of a drag. 

As a Mum, IF you’re able to find the child-minding support you need to allow you to travel for work – to be away by yourself with other adults in a stimulating environment for even just one night – it’s THE BEST THING EVER!

The good news is that many of the challenges faced by working Mums – time pressure, stress and the need to multi-task at an extreme level – are also strengths that you already likely possess as an event professional. 
  • Working to strict time schedules and preparing for events in advance is a piece of cake for an organised Event Pro.
  • You’ve had years of experience working under pressure in stressful environments, handling problematic clients, negotiating with ruthless suppliers and problem solving like there’s no tomorrow… Dealing with kids should be a piece of cake, right? 
  • Communicating with a variety of stakeholders and keeping everyone involved in the loop… You know you’ll end up running the PTA one day. 
  • Delegating tasks and pulling in external resources to get the job done – you can do it without breaking a sweat. 

So, when it all seems a little tough being a working Mum, remind yourself as you would just before a big event – you got this.

Let’s also start having the difficult conversations - as an industry, how can we be more supportive of all the wonderful working parents out there?

I'd love to hear your comments below...
P.S. I must add somewhere in here that having kids truly is amazing. And how darn cute are they when they’re sleeping?! 😊

P.P.S I want to mention that this balancing act relates to all primary carers – whether Mums or Dads.
P.P.P.S Wishing all the mums, step-mums, grandmothers and carers a happy Mothers’ Day!