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An Atkins mum walks us through her ‘village’

Mother’s Day with Karen Blanc, engineering manager

When recently announcing her pregnancy, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern referred to the Igbo saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and I can relate! Delegating wasn’t always a natural strength of mine. But if you’re not going to be around your most precious little people all day, you have to totally trust others to do a great job. And I do. Here are the most important members of my village:
 
My equal partner
When we had our first child, I don’t think my husband will mind me saying, I handled some of the more demanding parts of parenting (bedtime, night wake-ups, illnesses etc), mainly due to his lack of boobs. (Can I say boobs on a work blog? Oh well, I just did!) Now with two children, we split the responsibilities. When it comes to emergency nursery pick-ups we discuss whose calendar can be reshuffled that day, and who will work to clear theirs for the next.
 
Ah grandparents…
Those people who truly have your back, and can do no wrong in your children’s eyes. From supporting daddy when mummy is doing an Atkins’ guest lecture, to sleeping over when daddy is offshore, I honestly don’t know how I’d cope without my mum. I remember tearily trying to tell her that I ‘got it’ after my first was born. I couldn’t get the words out – and still can’t – but I know she knows. (Happy Mother’s Day Gaga!)

My employer
I take it for granted, but I’m learning that I’m one of the “lucky” ones to work for a modern employer, who promotes and values flexible working. A career at Atkins offers all kinds of flexible work options, from part-time, job-share and home working, to agile working and non-core hours. The different alternatives have definitely been major selling points for me, as I balance a young family and career.
 
Nursery staff
I couldn’t feel happier about leaving my little ones with people who had a ‘calling’ to work with children. Not only do they have bags of energy, and limitless patience, they do all the things mummy won’t do. Glittery gluey pasta crafting? No problem!
 
Mum friends
I’m pretty sure the ‘pre-kids me’ would have scoffed at the idea of making friends based on the month we gave birth in. But what an important group our NCT friends have become to me. From early coffee dates with our babies (when just leaving the house felt like an accomplishment), to our supportive WhatsApp group where we reassure each other our children aren’t weird (or that they are, but it’s fine!) – they’re an endless source of strength.
 
Facebook forums
This is where I’ve found my parent-tribe! For me, this means a few breastfeeding support groups, and some ‘gentle-parenting’ groups. It’s also a place to ask questions in the middle of the night and share experiences with others, hopefully offering them reassurance that they’re not the only ones.
 
ParentNet
Atkins’ very own (gender-diverse) version of MumsNet! We are avid Yammer users at Atkins, and one group I love is the ParentNet community. It’s a space for parents and parents-to-be to support each other. And it’s easy to see why it has quickly become one of our most successful internal networking groups at Atkins. It’s a really valuable and supportive group where parents can ask about anything from childcare vouchers and paternity leave, to 4th birthday parties and high school subject choices. It’s a great, encouraging place, and it has really helped me feel connected and supported as I returned back to work after both maternity leaves.

CBeebies
My husband calls this ‘le troisiemme’ parent. Obviously I’m only kidding about this one. Sort of…

Happy Mother’s Day from the team at Atkins.