At the moment, the role of the working mother is once again the subject of much debate as reconciling work and children is even more difficult to achieve with closed kindergartens and schools than it was before. According to a recent study, as many as 14 percent of working mothers are considering giving up their jobs because of the Corona pandemic.
We have compiled a list showing how mothers at OTRS Group feel about Mother’s Day. They report on the division of work in corona times, the development of traditional role patterns, the re-entry after parental leave and the most beautiful experience as a mother.
Childcare and job are especially tough in these days while most of the schools and kindergartens are still closed. How do you manage this with a full-time job?
Family planning time on Sunday evening before dinner has always been very useful. As much as digital calendars and to do lists are helpful, talking through the week with everyone in once place has always kept us on track.
But, I’m also very lucky because I have a lot of flexibility in terms of when and how I work. This allows me to ask myself each day “how can my energy be most helpful today?” Some days, I know that that’s at an afternoon track meet with my daughter. Other days, I know that it’s by logging back in to email after dinner. Building the habit of checking in with myself each day, as opposed to just plowing through to get everything on a list done, means that I’m able to give each part of my life fuller attention in any given moment. After all, there’s only so much energy, so you have to be specific and intentional about how you use it.
Rachel Minihan – Director Global Marketing
As I see it, companies should realize that, by adapting sufficiently to the needs of their employees in terms of family needs, they gain highly-motivated and loyal human resources.Szilvia Sass, Managing Director OTRS Hungary
In your view, do companies adapt sufficiently to the needs of parents? What needs to be changed — especially in Hungary?
In my opinion, the Hungarian companies should learn from the German companies regarding this issue. OTRS Group is the first job experience for me where the family-related needs are highly taken into consideration, where I am not stressed when I have to take my kids to the doctor or if there is a school activity requiring parents’ attendance during the workday. As I see it, companies should realize that, by adapting sufficiently to the needs of their employees in terms of family needs, they gain highly-motivated and loyal human resources.
Szilvia Sass – Managing Director OTRS Hungary
What has been the most rewarding thing in your mum-job life?
The most rewarding in my mum-job life was that my son, at the age of 8, wrote on a post-it: “Mum, I think you are best mother of the world, but please do not overwork yourself, kiss.”
Carmen Schwarz – Manager Global Human Relations
What is your biggest wish for Mother’s Day?
I do not really have a very SPECIAL wish for Mother’s Day. I am very thankful that we lead a harmonious family life without much quarrelling. Especially in the current situation, where we all have to move closer together and are at home a lot, it is not always easy with a 14-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. Nevertheless, we try not to always take ourselves so seriously and to laugh at ourselves when things get out of hand. And no matter how difficult the situation is, in the end we always stick together and are there for each other.
My wish – besides health, of course – is that we continue to treat each other with respect, meet at eye level, stick together and never lose our sense of humor!
Sandra Grassel – Finance Manager
You just returned to work after having a baby. Do you have any tips for returning to work after parental leave?
Returning to work after maternity leave is tough, for many reasons. Will you be able to jump back in? Have you missed anything important? How will you juggle personal topics, like doctor appointments and breastfeeding? And most of all, how will your baby handle the transition — how much will you miss and worry about your new baby? For those women returning to work, there’s no choice but to move forward. I found it helpful to make a plan, fill out my calendar, and make sure I included me-time each day. To ease my worry, we practiced “going back to work” by having my daughter attend daycare for a couple hours each day, ramping up time spent away until I began work. It was also helpful to think about what schedules would work for me and my family before beginning work and discussing the options with my superiors. And last, drink water! A hydrated body and mind will have a clearer perspective.
Brandy Dent – Manager Finance & Administration USA-MEX-BR
What do you think has changed for mothers in the last decades?
When my children were small, mothers had to conform much more to clichés and the traditional division of roles was respected in most cases. I had (almost) no time for personal interests or hobbies between my job, children and the household. Great to see now that many fathers are taking parental leave and are more involved in households/family. Also, employers are more attuned to parents so that traditional role clichés are slowly being eroded.
The childcare situation has also changed significantly. At that time, there was no state care for children under three years of age: This had to be solved privately. The care situation for school children was also not regulated, so I founded an association with other working parents to look after pupils before and after school. Financial support from the state was also only available for a limited period of up to six months after a birth. Nowadays, mothers fortunately have completely different possibilities.
Gabriele Brauer – Vice President Global Finances
For me, it was always clear that being a mother was my first priority, so I picked working part-time. I accepted that this meant not being able to climb up the corporate ladder, but being there for my children as much as possible was the most important.Nina Brücher, Finance Manager
What has particularly changed in your jobs after becoming a mum?
After the birth of my first child, I was working part-time from my home office for four months until I could arrange in-home daycare for my child. Then, I worked in a media agency with a tough timetable and full responsibility for my customers. That was not easy, because my husband only took care of our child during the weekends when I had to work.
After the birth of my second child, we moved to Düsseldorf, and I stayed at home on parental leave for the complete three years. Afterwards, there was no chance of returning to my previous job. My employer was not flexible enough to enable working from Düsseldorf. Having two small kids and hardly support from my husband, I did not find an opportunity for a new job.
When we moved back to the Rhein Main area, I started a 30-hour part-time job with the support of an au pair for my boys. This was a great feeling and a comfortable situation. I kept this model until the boys were older and needed less support. After my kids finished school, I finally changed my part-time job into full-time one.
For me, it was always clear that being a mother was my first priority, so I picked working part-time. I accepted that this meant not being able to climb up the corporate ladder, but being there for my children as much as possible was the most important.
Nina Brücher – Finance Manager
Do you prefer work life balance or work life blending to combine kids and a job?
The traditional division of work and leisure time has been tested by me since even before I had children. Digital transformation has been changing entire industries and, by decoupling work place and time, is creating completely new conditions for the way we work. If I have to choose between the two definitions, however, then it’s work life blending, because I consider it a good way to live out my own preferences. The merging of work and private life, as well as the dissolution of clearly defined boundaries between the two areas, allows me to create a situation in which both worlds are optimally coordinated. What bothers me about the definition of work life balance is that it categorically presents work as something bad and leisure as something good. But work is what makes a good life possible in the first place. Nevertheless, work life blending also has its limits for me. It cannot be one’s goal to be permanently on duty and not able to switch off your mind. Basically it should be about how each of us can work better, healthier and in a more satisfied way. I think it is wrong to simply reject work life blending and to label work life balance as completely wrong: I think the best results are achieved if both models are allowed their justification and each individual gets the opportunity to meet his or her personal requirements.
Kathrin Triebel – Senior Manager Global Human Relations
Even if the corona pandemic is a step backwards for the compatibility of children and a job, it can be said in summary that mothers find it very enriching to be in the workplace. However, flexible working time models, the freedom to choose where to work and the possibility of flexible parental leave – for mothers and fathers – are indispensable.
It’s good to work at OTRS Group. 🙂