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How Atkins has helped me celebrate family

by Samantha Symes, regional HR advisor

Real commitment to family
Just after I had my daughter, I remember one of my antenatal friends bursting into tears at a baby group. She was having to face her first interview in 15 years. Her employer had refused her request to return to work part time. So the latter half of her maternity leave was clouded over by the stress of updating her CV, job searching and trying to go for interviews while caring for a 10 month old baby. I was appalled that she could be treated that way. In contrast, I counted myself lucky at how I was welcomed back to work after maternity leave. I was using my Keeping In Touch (KIT) days, had been in regular contact with my line manager and colleagues throughout my leave, and my request to return back to a three-day week had been accepted. No stress.

Thriving as a mum. Growing at work.
After returning back from maternity leave, I found I had a great work-life balance. My daughter was a toddler and at nursery for two days a week and at her grandparents for one. I was loving being back at work, while also being able to meet up with friends and go to baby classes. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on my child’s younger years, or that my career was being disadvantaged. And because Atkins is a flexible employer, I was also able to swap my work days when it suited my mum and dad.

My parents drop a bombshell
And then last spring my parents announced that they were selling up and retiring to the coast. Up until that point they had lived around the corner and were my on-call babysitters. Rather than be happy for them, my first thought was, WHAT WILL I DO ABOUT CHILDCARE? Upping my nursery days to 3 days a week at our private nursery was going be out of the question.

Difficult times call for flexible hours
I soon found a wonderful pre-school close to work, the only downside was that they operated during term time and school hours. Atkins came to the rescue with its amazing approach to work hours. I put in a flexible working request that would spread my hours, allowing me to do school drop off and pick up. It was approved. If anything the flexible hours have worked out better for my colleagues, as now I’m in the office 4 days a week, instead of 3.

School holidays
Our most recent challenge has been juggling the school holidays—there seems to be one every 6 weeks! But again, with the option of being able to buy annual leave, Atkins has been a huge help to us. My next challenge is the 6-week long summer holidays and I’m open to any suggestions. Mmm… well at least with my parents settled in their home on the coast, my daughter will have a great place to spend the summer…

On International Family Day I want to say, thank you Atkins!
Being a parent brings so many challenges, but I can’t thank my management team or Atkins enough for the support they’ve given me whilst trying to juggle being a working mum. I know I’m very fortunate to have an employer who really takes care of working parents. They’ve made it possible for me to be there for my little family, AND to carry on being valued at work. It’s true, with part time work comes a part time salary, but being able to be a present mum to my daughter, means everything to me!