On Flexible Working And Equality

will we ever be equal

“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes,” says Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In. But with flexible working often seen as being acceptable for mums but not dads (how many dads do you know who look after the kids two days a week?) it’s fair to say we’re still a long way off Sheryl’s dream. Which is kinda depressing.

But (and it’s a big but) we’re starting to move towards it. It’s definitely becoming more acceptable for dads to work flexibly and on June 30th, the government introduced a change in law which allows anyone to request flexible working (Peninsula Financial Services have written a white paper on this, if you’re looking for details on it). So for the first time, employees without children or caring responsibilities can ask to work in a way that suits them. The rules are also being relaxed on the process that companies have to follow, making it easier for them too. Which, in theory, should mean that more people ask to work flexibly.

It’s a brilliant step forward and I’ve got high hopes that if more non-parents request flexible working, it’ll remove the stigma attached to it. And however you look at it, there is a stigma attached. Back before I had my daughter, I’m ashamed to say that I was that person doing a secret eye-roll when a colleague had to leave at 5pm to pick up their child from nursery. Ignorant? Yes. Happening in workplaces all over the country? Absolutely.

Never mind the fact that generally speaking, parents who work flexibly are paid accordingly and actually probably work harder than some of their colleagues, to ensure there’s no room for criticism of their performance or effort.

And actually, it’s in an employer’s interest to help employees achieve a work/life balance. They’ll have employees who are indebted to the organisation and who are really thinking about productivity. It’s a win/win situation.

Next year, there’s also going to be a change to paternity leave – dads can currently take up to 26 weeks of additional paternity leave before their baby turns one and once their partner has gone back to work. And there are plans to introduce shared parental leave in 2015 which will allow dads to take leave at the same time as their partner and at any time after the birth. Which is GREAT NEWS.

If we have another child, I will be well up for sharing some of my maternity leave with Mr P. I get that breastfeeding means that for most mums, it makes sense for them to be the one who is at home with their baby. But I stopped breastfeeding when my daughter was six months old and so after that, it didn’t matter who was looking after her – me or her dad. I think sharing some of the leave would have helped my PND and actually, it’s just fairer. As a couple, we do things in a pretty equal way, so why should caring for a young baby be any different?

What do you think? Do you imagine more people will request flexible working now? And will you be pleased to see parental leave come into force next year?

• This is a commissioned post


Retro Wrist Candy

A recent conversation with friends on Facebook led us to reminisce about the fashion from our childhoods. We pretty much all wore shell suits, bum bags, t-shirts with Kylie Minogue on them, and we thought it was a real treat if our mums bought us something from the market (the market had SUCH COOL stuff!)

The other must-have item back then (I’m talking circa 1990 here) was a Pop Swatch. Any Swatch watch was cool but the Pop Swatch was extra lust-worthy…

Pop swatch love!

It had a fabric strap, was always bright jazzy colours (yep, I just said ‘jazzy’) and the BEST BIT: the watch face popped right out! And you could even take the plastic clip off the strap and attach it to your t-shirt. Although I never actually did this.

In the days when my biggest aspiration was to be just like Six from TV Show Blossom, the Pop Swatch was everything to me. I was so happy to get one for my birthday one year. Continue reading



Pink Nike Air

It’s six weeks since I blogged about being Too Fat For Zara and guess what… I’m still too fat for Zara.

BUT…. I’m really proud of the little changes I’ve made to my lifestyle in that time. I’ve basically stopped eating my way through the day. I probably ate chocolate every day back then (I say that, like it’s years ago…) and my food choices were determined by which item looked the yummiest, which meant that anything carb-loaded, cheese-loaded and salt-loaded went in my gob. In the evenings, our idea of cooking was putting a pizza in the oven. We ate so much processed food, it’s not even funny. Never mind five a day, I’m not sure I was getting five a week.

It’s easy to get into a vicious circle of ‘well I’m overweight so I may as well eat ALL the burgers’, isn’t it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of diets. I spent far too much of my 20s on Weight Watchers diets and feeling miserable at the weekly weigh-in when I’d only dropped half a pound despite having struggled through the week, counting points and eating those (gross) microwave meals they sell. When I look back at photos of me, at that time, I look slim! Why was I beating myself up about my weight?

Thankfully, at around 28, I realised diets are pointless and a negative cycle to get into. It’s all about adopting a healthy lifestyle, right? Which is all well and good, if you actually do adopt a healthy lifestyle. Which for the last few years, I haven’t.

Last year, when friends and colleagues were banging on about the 5:2 diet, I rolled my eyes and stuffed another cupcake in my mouth. And another. But really, was what they were doing any worse than what I was doing? Probably not. Continue reading

Beach Life, Stationery Shopping and French Plaits… (AKA What We Got Up To This Week)

Well, that was the weekend. How was it for you? I’ve been hanging out with my family doing fun things (isn’t that what weekends are all about?) We had friends over for a BBQ. I rustled up some Jamie Oliver salads and we sat in the garden drinking Pimm’s and cider until the heat became unbearable. So we retreated to the cool living room to watch Frozen and drink Champagne. As you do.

I’ve been reflecting back on the last week too. In the past week…

We packed up the car and drove out to the coast.

There were grey skies but it was still warm enough to sit on the beach so we made for the seaside. A few hours of sitting on the sand, building sandcastles, paddling in the sea and collecting shells is good for the soul. Oh and we also might have eaten a mammoth portion of fish and chips… and an ice cream. Healthy eating begins again tomorrow, yeah?

Minni Bay beach huts

Minnis Bay beach huts

Fish and chips Continue reading

Summer Dress Masterclass

One of my favourite things about summer is my summer wardrobe – and adding to it. My summer staples this year are denim shorts, boyfriend tee, statement necklace and Birkenstocks but for really hot days (hello muggy weather we’ve been having recently!) or for days when I want to look a bit smarter, the summer dress is everyone’s best friend. You can wear one with some flip flops for a picnic or day at the seaside or wear some bejewelled sandals and a statement necklace and it’ll be office-ready.

George at Asda have asked me to pick out my favourite dresses from their Summer Shop… this is how I’d wear them…

The maxi

There’s something about any print that vaguely has a hint of Missoni about it, that appeals to me every time. This maxi dress just needs a slick of bright lippy, sandals and a denim jacket to make any picnic or BBQ a style hit. Add a fedora hat if it’s really sunny.

Maxi dress from George at Asda

Printed maxi dress, £12

Buckled sandals, £10

Mid-wash cropped denim jacket, £18

Rimmel Kate Matte lipstick in 110, £5.48

The midi

This outfits screams ‘summer date’ to me – whether you’ve managed to blag a babysitter or you’ve got a night out with the girls planned (cocktails and cinema is always a winner with me) the combination of cotton midi dress, leather jacket and embellished flats will see you right.


Gorgeous summer outfit from George at Asda

Embellished dip hem dress, £18

Faux leather jacket, £30

Gemstone sandals, £12

Wasp necklace, £4 (has an air of Alex Monroe to it, don’t you think?)

The classic

I love a stripe – especially when paired with a statement necklace. But for this look, I’ve gone for a print clash (something I learned from my friend Erica) by choosing a floral kimono in similar colours to wear over the dress. Add a pop of colour with some bright nail polish and trainers (or if you’re going for a more dressy look, block heeled sandals would look ace.)

Striped summer dress - George at Asda

Stripe sundress, £10

Floral print kimono, £16

Max Factor mini nail polish in coral, £1

Canvas slip-ons, £6

Which look is your favourite?

• Thanks to George at Asda for collaborating with Not Another Mummy Blog!