Flexi-Star series pt 5: Helen Bryce, Cheerleader for Women @ The Guilty Mothers Club

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What do you do when you've moved to a new area and want to make a difference for working Mothers...set-up a fantastic community just like Helen, founder of The Guilty Mothers Club did,  providing support for those Mothers wishing to return to the workplace....flexibly!

Here's Helen telling us more about the Club and how it continues to grow...

Q1. 1. Tell us who you are and a little about yourself… 

Hi, I'm Helen. Mum of three (7. 5. 3) soon to be four (due in October). I live with my husband in Manchester. I founded Guilty Mothers Club around 3 years ago now with the aim of supporting more women in returning to work after maternity leave, changing career and finding that elusive work - life alignment. I'd experienced maternity discrimination, moved to a new area where I had no real community and was feeling totally lost and frustrated about the whole thing. What started with running small in person workshops and the odd supper club locally has now grown to an online membership community and a range of online courses which I am so proud to say are now helping more mums have a better experience than I did. Over 100 have now done Game Changers and switched things up on the work front, I get giddy talking about this. I am exceptionally passionate about changing the current crap working mums often face and often can be found boring people stupid with my feminist rants and enthusiasm for change. 

Q2. What’s your flexible working purpose? 

Our flexible working purpose is in helping more parents in applying for and making flexible working work in reality (within our Rock your Return programme). Also, for those who decide returning to a current employer isn't the right thing, or who are feeling lost or frustrated or stuck, to find a new way of working (Game Changers). For some this means switching roles or departments within their current employer, considering new ways to work flexibly (which has at times meant moving to a new employer) and also plenty deciding to start a business, go freelance or retrain in something new. We talk a lot about portfolio careers and how to really understand what it is that you are brilliant at or passionate about. Understanding this and what the ideal work / home set up might look like is key. 

Q3. What encouraged you to start your flexible working journey?

Actually, when I started Guilty Mothers Club I was already working flexibly after returning from my first maternity leave part time for a large corporate in HR (talent management and leadership development).

However, this still meant long hours, a long commute and I found sadly that in doing so I also gave up all chances of further progression (something I know can be frustratingly common). I really felt the overwhelm which I also know is common for women in particular, from trying to do and be everything in such a small amount of time. Over the next few years and for a variety of reasons we made choices and decisions to try and change some of this. I now work for myself 4 days a week and feel like I have more work:life alignment than ever before. My husband works flexibly too, he is now fully appreciating and enjoying the benefits flexible working can bring and our lives are very different to eight years ago. 

Q4. What’s your top tip for those seeking flexible work or those who need to ask for this at work?

My top tip would be to try and find out as much as possible about what is on your employer's mind and have as much informal discussion as possible prior to making a formal request. A KIT day can be a great way to do this because you hear more about projects that are happening, who is currently doing what and can scope out and chat to potential job share partners or just test the waters of what could be possible. If your line manager describes some potential hurdles then you know to really focus on how these can be overcome within any request you make, which I think can be more effective than just sending something in cold. 

Register here to attend our National Flexible Working Day on 12th September to join in the conversation around flexible working, see how it works in action and talk to business' who are doing this already. If you can't attend in person, why not join in online, posting your comments and questions (and we'd love to see your pictures too) using our hashtag #LetsAllFlexTogetherDay - see you there!