Guest blog post by Sarina Bellissimo. This post originally appeared on The Bellissimo Files and Sarina has kindly allowed us to share it here.
The above picture is what people saw on their TVs this morning if they were watching “Ireland AM”.
It looks like things are all under control, just as we are about to go to air.
What no-one sees (or hears) is what’s going on behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes, in the lead up to this segment (which I love doing), was mental. None of that had to do with the professional sides of things, it was that way because of my personal life.
This morning, as well as trying to juggle getting myself ready and organised to talk about one of my favourite Golden Globes ceremony in a long time, I also had to wake the kids early, get them fed, dressed, and make a school lunch.
I am not good at asking for help. But on Friday, I decided that help is what I would need if I am going to be able to get any work done this week and also be there for my kids. You see, my husband is away for work at the moment so it is just me looking after them.
During working hours, it is fine, because I have the most incredible crèche that helps us mind our children and the kids love being there. The problem is what to do when the crèche isn’t available. That’s where asking for help has to come into the plan.
I am getting better at asking friends/family for help – and they are incredible at coming through with the support (taking my two when I work on a Saturday) but when it comes to colleagues I am not so good.
I realised that part of the reason I wasn’t so good was that for such a long time, I would never acknowledge, in the work place, that I had kids. I would almost apologise to those around me for having kids.
What was that all about? My work place never asked me to do that, yet I acted like they were my dirty little secret. I was afraid that if I spoke about my kids, people would deem me as not being committed to my job. I would be passed over for jobs. The day I realised that, I was so upset at my carry on.
My being a mum isn’t something to be ashamed about. It doesn’t lessen my worth or make me more worthy. My kids are little people I am so proud of.
Since that stark realisation, I have vowed to never again apologise for being a mum. I have vowed to ask for help (that one is a work in progress). I have vowed to make the work place a better place for all females. I have vowed to help us smash through those glass ceilings. We can have it all – whatever our individual “all” is.
So back to today. Instead of hiding the fact that I have a responsibility to my kids, I told the amazing Katriona (“Ireland AM” producer) of my predicament. I thought her response would be, “well you stay with the kids and I’ll find someone else”. But no. Katrina’s response was “Bring them in and I’ll mind them while you’re on air”.
Immediately I felt my load lighten and also felt that my contribution in the work place was worthy. I am worthy. My kids are worthy.
True to her word, this morning, Katriona came down from her very busy office and minded my kids while I was on air.
Before I went on air, the beauty magician that is Michelle, did my hair and make up while my one year old was on my lap and my six year old was admiring herself in the other make up chair and she never made me feel like a burden.
While on air I was able to do my job, and enjoy it, because I knew I had colleagues that have my back.
Many people will say this is an unfair situation to put my colleagues and my kids in but this is not not the norm. It’s an extraordinary situation.
While I don’t expect work to fix my personal life, I think in this day and age it is time for the work place to be more flexible. Flexible to all of its workers’ needs – not just parents’. We all have personal needs/wants that sometimes overlap into our professional life, and flexibility in the workplace would give us all a dig out and make for a happier place and workforce.
It’s also time for us to ask for help and to have each other’s backs because as we have seen, it is in fact our small actions that can lead to massive change.
Sarina will be speaking at Mum Talks Dublin in March, watch this space for further details!