Single mother of one. Children & Youth Dance Manager at The Place (Job Share), Parent Governor, Board Member for State of Emergency, Administrator for Yorke Dance Project
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
I’m not sure it’s just working in dance, but the notion of unsociable hours and the need to be ‘flexible’ with your schedule is the most challenging to me. The change of meetings last minute, the odd evening show and long weekends… when you have children who also have their own schedule of activities, arranging the changes to childcare arrangements can be tricky and very time consuming. There is this on-going feeling of guilt that is difficult to shift. It’s never ending… my daughter is 10 years old now and every month/year I think ‘this will get easier’ but it hasn’t yet!
My current boss is also a parent so I feel like she understands and as is very supportive generally. This helps the situation a lot. I have had to miss meetings, sharings etc. BUT the answer I’m convinced is to have a job share with someone who is also a parent! They understand when you have to opt out, sometimes at the last minute and you have cover when/if needed… so long as this partnership has equal and mutual respect it works great!
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
I was freelance when I was pregnant, so not applicable.
Do you think being a dancer made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?
I danced until I was 4 months pregnant but I ‘retired’ after that and have not danced since. I don’t think I felt differently about pregnancy because I was a dancer, no.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
I wouldn’t really give any advice as I think this is such an individual thing….. I think we can far too judgemental on parents for going back to work or not going back to work. I guess I would just say to ensure that they know what leave they are entitled to; make sure you check your contracts so you know what you are entitled to before signing!
I was freelance and was able to take as much time as I wanted as I was financially supported by my partner at the time. I went back to work part-time, locally to me, so I could be there for my daughter as much as I could.
What changed most for you on your return to work?
When I did work part time it was the difficulties to be flexible with my time. The challenges of organising childcare to accommodate work commitments and also the issues (guilt!) around taking time off when your child is unwell.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Interestingly having so much contact with so many different types of parents, makes you much more aware of how you behave as a parent! I feel I am able to empathise with parents regarding issues with their children although I’m not sure if this is just because I am a parent too…
It’s always useful to be able to say ‘I understand I have a child too’! I also feel like all the management training I have undertaken is also relevant in parenting! The same rules often apply at home and at work!
Does dance help you in your parenting?
Well I did win a parent dance competition at Haven Holidays last year, about which my daughter was overjoyed! I’m not so sure this would go down so well in the next few years though! I think I am also very aware of body image issues with girls particularly having been involved in some situations at work with disordered eating.
I’m not sure its done anymore than that really…. I have learnt on the job as it were, as parents do I believe!
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
I suppose it’s worth mentioning that often women are having babies and taking time out of their careers generally to raise them…. If more men considered doing the stay at home bit to help this maybe more women would be CEO or Director level maybe?