Earlier this year I left my job and soon after me another one of my closest friends did the same. In the last week another two of my friends have told me that they are leaving their high flying corporate jobs to spend more time with their families and follow their passions. So why are such talented women leaving the careers they worked so hard to get? Time as always seems to be at the centre of these decisions.
Having been a working mum up until recently I had, like so many do, made the assumption that most stay at home mums were women who had not wanted to work. They were women who wanted to stay home to raise their families without the stresses of work or further study. I was wrong.
There are many women I am meeting through school, sports etc who are not just highly educated but many are highly skilled professional with many years under their belts. I have met lawyers, doctors, accountants, scientists and senior managers – all who have spent many years building up their credibility in their chosen fields. All who, at some point in the last few years have turned around and said “you know what, this just isn’t worth it, I would rather spend time with my kids and following my passion than spend another day doing this”.
Why are we doing this? When I speak to my friends the answers are fairly similar – there is no balance, the stress is too much, my kids are getting sick too often from all the long hours they are spending in care, we are all exhausted and my work just doesn’t get that I don’t want to spend my day tied to my desk – that I actually have a life outside of work. All of this aside there is one goal we all have in common – we want to spend more time with our children. We want to help them do their homework whilst they are still fresh after school, we want to go on play dates at the park as it gets closer to summer and we want time to sit together to eat dinner without rushing through it all because it is nearly bedtime and we have to do it all again tomorrow. And some of us want the time to actually follow our passion – the thing we’ve always wanted to do but never got around to it because we were too busy working.
But what does this mean for businesses? Business is loosing talent, talent that is not easily replaced given the years it takes to build up and talent that costs a lot of money to replace. I don’t have the answer for businesses – there are certainly many discussions that pop up on this topic but as yet no one has hit on what actually needs to be done to retain these talented mothers. The emotional pull from our children and our passions are too strong to keep us in the rat race and yet our expertise is a lot to be lost by businesses across the country. I am sure some day someone will come across the answer but I doubt that it will be in my working lifetime. In the meantime I will be the one enjoying watching my kids grow slowly day by day.