Thursday, August 23, 2012

Living on top of the World: one woman has it all

Krithika Hansen is the Learning and Development Manager for Pitcher Partners, guessed it! A working mum! She has been kind enough to share her story with us. She tells us about her working life before and after kids and how she manages that infamous work/life balance. Enjoy!

Prior to having kids, I worked at DeakinPrime as a Programs Director within the former Coles Myer Institute. Currently, my role is the Learning and Development Manager at Pitcher Partners.

As the Programs Director, my role involved working with the GM’s and HR Managers of various divisions to consult, design and develop a range of people development initiatives ranging from Coaching Programs to Talent Development Programs.  Prior to having children, I worked full time and didn’t think twice about working longer hours or having meetings after 5pm to get a project completed. I had a very clear career path that I wanted to pursue and was very happy to put in the extra effort to achieve my goals.  I loved what I was doing and it was in this role that I felt my real passion for Learning and Development/Organisational Development start to flourish and bloom.

In my current role as Learning and Development Manager, I am involved in a wide variety of projects that have a strong strategic link to the overall people development framework.  I work 4 days a week and I have to be disciplined with my time to make sure I get my work done ideally within the 4 days.  Many would argue that working 4 days is like working full time and I would say that I do take on a number of projects that keep me challenged and busy and could very easily fill in 5 days and more.  The way that I manage it is by looking at timelines and having conversations with my stakeholders to determine how the project will run and what resources are available to help get the work completed.  This process not only allows me to be involved both at a strategic and operational level but also provide opportunities for growth and stretch for members within the Learning and Development team.  There are the occasional times when I do have to work longer hours or take work home, but I find overall the balance is really good and it’s a matter of me being realistic with what I can achieve considering there is a family involved.

When I was looking for a change, I was clear that I wanted to work part time in a role that provided challenge and opportunity and one where I could add value with my experiences and background.  I knew I couldn’t commit to more than 4 days and shared this up front with all the people I spoke to as part of my job search.  I was pleased to hear how supportive everyone was and felt that it was a realistic request to make to my future employer.  Pitcher Partners has been a very supportive of me as a working mother. 
How do you successfully juggle a successful career and family life? How do you make it work?

I have 3 children – Noah 5, Toby 3, and Maya 2.  It’s crazy in my house as you can imagine.  My husband has a very full job that requires him to travel and work long hours.  With no family support in Australia, I have learned to ask for help.  We have a nanny who helps us out 2 days a week and my husband and I arrange our schedules so we can do drop offs and pickups at school and day-care the other days.  I am lucky to have a lovely group of friends who are there to help if we ever need it and treat us like we are part of their extended family. 
We have a planning session as a family every Sunday morning over breakfast and talk through what’s coming up for the week and how we will manage it.  The kids are fantastic at throwing in their suggestions (realistic or not) as they understand that it’s just the 5 of us and we have to work together to get the tasks done.  We can’t always have dinner as a family every night so in our house, we have breakfast every morning.  It requires us to get up earlier so we can have this time together, but the effort is so worthwhile as we start each day together.
Even though both my husband and I have busy jobs and interested in growing our careers, we make sure we have time for each other by having a monthly date night and protect our weekends to make sure we are able to spend time with our kids and doing what they are interested in doing rather than filling it with various activities.
I still have my overall career goals from my pre-children days that I am pursuing. The difference is the pace in which I’m pursuing my goals. I have had to learn to accept that I can’t work the long hours and still be able to be there for my husband and children. I have had to make peace with the fact that it will be a slower journey and once my kids are at school then I can re-evaluate where I’m at.

Krithika Hansen
Learning and Development Manager
Pitcher Partners

Published by mums@work



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Balance it All: A Guide for Working Mums

Have you come across the burden of balancing it all as a working mom? I am referring to the burden and guilt trip we give ourselves each day over our attempt and quite often failure to balance all aspects (working mom, caretaker, professional, student, friend etc.) of our lives.  I call it the Balance Burden and, truly, I spent my first year- and- a -half of motherhood often riddled with guilt because I couldn’t seem to juggle it all.

It wasn’t until the birth of my second daughter (18 months after my first) that I finally threw my hands up and admitted defeat.  With the slow realization and acceptance that balance was unattainable came a sudden relief, and the mommy baggage was quickly lifted off my five- foot, two- inch frame. 

In the days (specifically 20 months) since becoming a mom of two amazing, extremely energetic, and willful little girls, I have learned a few things about the best approaches for me to manage my multiple roles. I learned most of these lessons come the hard way. Read, coming home from work stressed about an undone project, only to be a bit cranky and short-tempered with my family followed by a sleepless night feeling downright crummy for not being a better worker, spouse, and namely mom.

But since then I’ve tried and erred and discovered that these five tips which work for me:


Create a priorities list and re-evaluate it monthly

Take stock of what you value and write it down. Make choices on how you spend your time based on that priorities list.  This list can change as your work goals change, seasons pass (take it from a Californian living in the Midwest, summer outdoor adventures are a must) and kids’ extracurricular activities and hobbies change.

Take charge of your schedule

I, for one, have been notoriously terrible at saying no. Just ask the professional association that asked me to be a board member and waited for weeks for my reply. I am learning, slowly, the art, beauty, and necessity in saying no.  Decline requests that don’t fit into your priorities list. Say no kindly but firmly and embrace the freedom of having something off of your plate.

Give your kids uninterrupted time

When I initially went back to full-time work after working part-time for two years, I would walk in the door at the end of the work day and be greeted with a cluster of hellos, cries, questions, “mommy, I need” etc. I tried to manage it all by tending to my girls’ needs while inquiring about my husband’s day, and making dinner all at the same time. How did that work? Terribly. Usually one of the girls threw a tantrum and I felt more stressed than ever. Now, when I come home, I stop and sit with both daughters for 30 minutes playing, reading, dancing, doing whatever they choose. After this time devoted to them, I then think about dinner, pick up toys, or chat with my husband.

Give yourself me time

Ok. So I am no pro at this. I write it because I know that when I make time for myself I feel like a better mom. I’m kinder, more patient, in general, I feel like me. I just don’t put it into practice nearly as much as I should. One piece of advice I received not too long ago was to put it on the calendar. If my Outlook calendar says yoga, well then, I am more likely to pull out my mat and work on my yoga warrior pose.

Stop comparing

This is one that is really deeper than the work/life balance issue. Really, it is about embracing and accepting who we are as women, mothers, and professionals. Unfortunately, girls are taught at a young age to compare themselves to the females around them, from the classmate with the better math test grade to the supermodel on the cover of the tween magazines. This self-comparison carries itself into motherhood and we are constantly contrasting our mothering skills with those of the stay-at-home mom down the street, or the VP who seems to have it all. Stop it.  Embrace yourself in all your glories and flaws. Your kids, your spouse, your boss only want you and no one different.

What balancing tips do you have for working moms?

Source: Workawesome:

Posted by mums@work:

Photo by monkeybusiness.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Did you know...Paid Parental Leave Scheme & Baby Bonus are mutually exclusive?

In January 2011, the Paid Parental Leave scheme was instigated to provide financial support to eligible working parents of children born or adopted from 1 January 2011. From January 2012 the Baby Bonus (*means tested) allowed parents of babies born or adopted from that date to claim $5437 to go towards that crucial first year, and is paid in 13 fortnightly installments.

However, what many families may not realise is that the Baby Bonus and the Paid Parental Scheme are mutually exclusive – you cannot claim both for the same child.

It's also worth noting that the rates are changing. For anyone claiming the Baby Bonus up until 31 August 2012, the current rate of $5,437 applies, but for anyone claiming from 1 September 2012, the rate drops to $5,000. So if you're eligible to claim, get in quick!

The Baby Bonus scheme has been designed to make sure that stay at home mums aren't penalized or worse off than working mums of the same family income levels, because they can't claim the paid parental leave (currently 18 weeks at National Minimum Wage and taxable), unless your employer has a better scheme in place.

Hence, even if you qualify for the Baby Bonus with the means test and other eligibility questions, and you also qualify for the paid parental leave scheme, you may not claim for both for the same baby. So which is better? In order to calculate whether it's more beneficial to you to claim the Baby Bonus or the Paid Parental Leave scheme, check out the department of Human Service's Comparison estimator here.

Baby Bonus Eligibility
You may be eligible for Baby Bonus if:
  1. You are eligible for Family Tax Benefit (FTB) for the child (disregarding the FTB income test) within six months of the child's birth or after an adopted child enters your care before turning 16 years old; or
  2. You are claiming for a child other than your own and you started caring for the child within six months of the child's birth and are likely to continue caring for the child for at least six months; and
  3. You or your partner are the primary carer of the child; and
  4. You meet the residency requirements for FTB within six months of the child's birth or entry into care; and
  5. You meet the Baby Bonus income test; and
  6. You have not received Parental Leave Pay for the child; and
  7. You make your claim no later than one year after the birth of the child or after the adopted child enters your care.
Paid Parental Leave Eligibility
You may be eligible if you:
  1. Are the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child from 1 January 2011 (A child's primary carer is the person who is most meeting the child's physical needs. This will usually be the birth mother of a newborn child or the initial primary carer of an adopted child. You are considered to be the primary carer of your child even if your child is in hospital); and
  2. Are an Australian resident; and
  3. Have met the Paid Parental Leave work test before the birth or adoption occurs; and
  4. Have received an individual adjusted taxable income of $150 000 or less in the financial year before the date of birth or adoption or date of claim, whichever is earlier; and
  5. Are on leave or not working, from when you become the child's primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period.
  6. Full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract, and self-employed workers may be eligible for the scheme.
For more information contact Human Services on

*Those eligible for the Baby Bonus must have a taxable family income of equal to or less than $75000 in the six months before the birth of the baby.

Source: Care4kids:
Posted by mums@work:

Simple steps create a positive parental-leave experience

The parental-leave process can be fraught with confusion and misunderstandings, but according to return-to-work expert Emma Walsh, employers can take simple, inexpensive steps to make the transitions easier for everyone.

Walsh's first tip is to make sure policies and procedures relating to parental leave are clearly articulated and understood by staff in advance. 

"Sometimes organisations have loose policies and processes around what needs to happen during parental leave. [Then] someone falls pregnant and the person and their manager go, 'Oh, what do we do?' and they have to scout around and try to get information."

Walsh, the founder and director of Mums at Work, recommends devising a simple toolkit that outlines key information for managers and employees. It could also offer information about anything from childcare through to flexible return-to-work options that might interest employees.  

Don't make assumptions


In the lead-up to the leave period, managers should ask employees about their initial thoughts on returning to work, Walsh says.

A manager in this situation should be mindful of anti-discrimination legislation, and should avoid making assumptions about what leaving work to have a child might say about the employee's career motivations.

"It's really easy to apply your own values to that situation," Walsh says.

"The manager might say, 'Oh right, you're having a baby now, great! I guess that's going to be your priority and focus.' And maybe they don't say it, but sometimes they think it, and I think that's the key thing: not to assume as a manager that you know what your employee is thinking and feeling about their career now that they're going on parental leave. You should ask.

"Sometimes managers feel uncomfortable about asking because they don't want to appear to cross the line or be pressuring someone into making a decision about what their goals and ambitions are, but often - and I talk to a lot of parents who are going on leave - it's a really great time to do a bit of an audit and a review on your job and your career and where you've got to thus far."

For example, an employee embarking on leave might think, "I've been in this job for the last five years; I've enjoyed it, but maybe when I come back I'd like to be doing something a little different", she says.

"Everyone's going to have a different situation depending on where they're at in their career and how much they're enjoying their current job."

'posted by mums@work': .