Celebrating mums on the front line

We love working mums! Never ceasing to amaze and inspire us. While Mother’s Day might look different this year, mums need the recognition now more than ever as they fulfil the roles of mums, stand in teachers, wives, cleaners, chefs, and employees. 

Across our circle of customers is an expansive group of extraordinary mums playing active and valuable roles in response to the global pandemic. We celebrate their contribution to the delivery of essential services and business activities that provide uninterrupted support, care and supplies to their communities.

At Visy, employees are working harder than ever to produce the packaging that keeps our supermarket shelves stocked and our communities fed. 

Programmed’s highly skilled and medically trained teams offer uninterrupted specialist in-home nursing care and disability support services to ensure people get the helping hand they need at such a critical time.

Over at Arup, their healthcare teams are working on the rapid adaptation of existing spaces for medical use, modular designs for intensive care beds, and investigating the conversion of industrial oxygen for clinical use. 

And with the increasing number of people working from home, Western Power’s function to maintain power supply in Australia’s west is now more important than ever.

To celebrate Mother’s Day and the incredible achievements of mums on the front line servicing our communities and supply chains, we asked different mums how they’re coping through the crisis and for their tips to thrive.

Top tips for keeping a positive outlook from a field-based working mum

Mum-of-one Jessie Ellis works as an apprentice for Western Power, having just returned from parental leave. With her partner working FIFO (fly-in-fly-out), Jessie runs solo most of the time and her days are hectic: early starts, working full-time, and chasing a toddler outside of work hours. We asked Jessie what are the biggest challenges and positives that have come out of this situation?

Jessie: As a front line worker on the tools, I don’t have the option to do a 50/50 work from home roster like our office staff, so I’m faced with sending my son to childcare during a pandemic. We’ve ramped up our cleanliness at home with extra washing and disinfecting to try to give us the best possible chance. These habits are also something I maintain in the workshop. 

My already time-poor week is being stretched with added shopping trips, as we’re unable to do our fortnightly grocery shop online. I’m also at a higher risk of exposure to the virus due to being out in public more often than I would usually need to be. Getting essential items like toilet paper has been a nightmare for us like most people, however we’ve been very fortunate that nappies in my son’s size have not been an issue to source.

After I collect my son from childcare, I literally only have about an hour with him to give him dinner and a bath before bedtime. Due to our early mornings, the little guy must be in bed around 5pm to get enough sleep. This is hard for me as a mum. I do try to make that time as hands on as possible, but the reality is that time is also needed to get his bag ready, and prep my lunch and work gear for the next day. However, I run off what he needs: if he wants me to just sit and play or cuddle, I down tools and that is exactly what I do.

As far as the positives go, I have been living vicariously through those who have found ways to enjoy their isolation at home. I know this sounds a bit odd, but as a front line worker, not much has really changed for me.

Seeing more people out walking their dogs, gardening, or finding creative ways to stay connected has been really wholesome to see. I do hope that these positive changes in the community stay when all of this blows over.

1. Keep sight of the bigger picture: Remind yourself that you’re doing your absolute best and this is out of our hands. 

2. Focus on the things you can control: Be proactive in the things you can control and wait it out with the rest.

Three tips for thriving as a working mum from a full-time general manager

Angela Kranjcic is GM Sales & Business Development at Visy Logistics, and a mum-of-three. During the pandemic, Angela is working long days from both home and the office, balanced with some early morning exercise and a little ‘me time’ in the evenings. Household chores and supervising her kids’ remote learning round out her days. We asked Angela what are the biggest challenges and positives that have come out of this situation?

Angela: The biggest challenge is managing a sales team across Australia New Zealand remotely, and changing the way we do business. People adjust to change in different ways, and in their own time, so it’s essential to manage people and situations individually.  

Personally, losing my social interactions, and a lack of control of the situation have been challenging. As has staying strong and supporting my children through this. 

The biggest positives from a work perspective are the amazing people and customers I work with. It’s a reminder that we are human, we have children, we are all struggling and adjusting to the situation, and strength, resilience and leadership come from different people in any role. 

From a personal lens, I am spending more time with my children, especially my two teenagers, and creating precious memories. In self-reflection, I realise what is sincerely important to me: to be the best I can as a mother, daughter, colleague, friend and sister, and, most importantly, for me. As much as it pains me how much I have slowed down, it has given me this chance to stop, breathe, reflect and just be.

1. Lower your expectations: Juggling work, cleaning, cooking, home schooling and a range of other everyday tasks is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. Instead of striving for perfection, it’s okay to stop, breathe and give your own self-love. The washing and ironing can be done tomorrow. Ham and cheese toasties are okay for dinner. Go for a walk instead of a run. 

2. Seek emotional support: It’s okay not to be okay. Most other people are feeling the same way. Just make sure you’re speaking to someone so you can release the anxiety that you may be feeling. Find a group of women that can support you, lift you up and talk through your concerns and down days. 

3. Adjust and reflect: Take this time to readjust and design a schedule that will work for you when we do return to ‘normal’.

Three tips to boost your wellbeing from a health professional and mum

Erin Lepik is a mum of three primary school-aged kids and a Programmed Health Professionals employee. Before Erin’s work day begins, she goes through the daily remote learning schedule with her kids, and communicates her own WFH schedule. Typically, she charges through her work until lunchtime (with the occasional child knocking at the door for help) when she checks in with and feeds the kids, before getting back to work. Erin’s work day is interspersed with a few family breaks, “even if it’s a lap around the house, watering some of the pot plants, getting some sun on our faces, or playing scrabble on my phone so I don’t burn out!” We asked Erin what are the biggest challenges and positives that have come out of this situation?

Erin: The biggest challenge is not expecting too much from myself. Yes, I am a mum, a stand in teacher, wife, cleaner, cook, employee/worker, etc, but to expect that I can do it all and do it well is unrealistic, and coming to terms with this was a big hurdle to get over and accept. 

One big positive is spending more time with the kids, getting to see their day-to-day work and how clever they are, and watching their independence grow and flourish. Another positive is that I have never noticed so much wildlife and insects/butterflies, etc around my home and property. You really get the chance to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and appreciate the small things in life, and that’s been something that has greatly helped my mental health in all this.

1. Just do your best: Whatever your day looks like, however it turns out, it is okay. It’s perfectly okay that there are tantrums, mishaps, lost papers, interrupted phone calls… At the end of the day, we are all doing our best and we cannot expect more than that from ourselves.

2. When it’s all too much, engage your senses: If it gets too much, take a walk outside and focus on one of your five senses: take a deep breath in, feel the grass under your feet, and let the stress and worry leave your body with your exhale.

3. Be kind: We all need to be a little kinder to ourselves and others, as this is a unique and challenging time!

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