Advice for working mums

Caroline Cassidy

Juggling family life and work commitments is no easy task and many working mums feel as though they are struggling to cope with the balancing act.

But it is possible to enjoy both - here are our tips for making the most of life as a working mum.

Working mum
Working mum

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Career options

These days, businesses are more open to the idea of flexible working and there are now more opportunities for employees who have children. So what are the options?

Job sharing is increasingly popular amongst employers who must now look seriously at flexible working opportunities. A job share means that the responsibilities and hours are divided between two people, but it is not for everyone.

The flexibility allows you to spend time with your children but it is vital that you are compatible with your job share partner. For instance, are you happy to let others take on a project that you started and will you be able to adapt to another's way of getting the job done? It could prove the perfect situation but if possible, speak to others who have job shared to find out more about it.

Some employers instead offer staggered hours, which allow parents to work the same hours each week but at times to suit you, ie. you may be able to start later in the morning (in order to do the school run) and work later (while your partner picks up the children) or vice versa. This is an ideal situation if your partner's work schedule differs from your own.

Alternatively compressed hours mean you are able to work the same hours but within a shorter period of time, ie. work a four-day week instead of five. To be eligible though, you must have worked at least 26 continuous weeks and have a child under the age of 17. Employers do have the right to refuse if there is good reason. For more information visit

Home-working may sound like a dream come true for many working parents and employers are increasingly offering work from home opportunities. But once again, you'll need to be sure that it's right for you - self-motivation is of paramount importance and many miss the social interaction of office life.

Of course, for some working part time provides enough extra income and, with many businesses keen to cut back on wages, there may be more part time opportunities available during these difficult financial times.

Tax credit
Benefits are available on the state for parents, both working and non-working. Families who have a combined income of £58,000 annually usually qualify for child tax credits, meaning you can still earn and claim as long as you care for a child under the age of 16 (more if your child is under one year old).

Working tax credits are also available - how much you receive will be paid according to means testing but it is available to those who work 16 hours or more each week. Check with HM Revenue & Customs to see whether you can claim.

If you are a working parent or would like to go back to work, why not visit the exhibition at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. This brand new event will give you the opportunity to meet family-friendly employers, get tips on childcare and financial matters and even advice from experts on retraining or going back to work.

The exhibition runs from 10am until 5pm on Tuesday March 8.