Leeds, West Yorkshire
07703 015334

Sarah Barnett

Sarah has an impressive career as a HR professional and is an expert in Learning and Development, Talent management.

She is Mummy to two amazing small people – Edith (3, turning 4 in November) and George (2, turning 3 next April) – and she has been with her husband James for 13 years. Sarah shares very honestly about her parenting experience with a 16 month age gap – it’s been both brilliant because they’re so close and like similar things, but also one of the hardest things she and James have experienced. She holds on tight to the reassurance from others that it will get easier! Sarah is super close to her sister who also has two children, so between them they have 4 children aged between 1 and 4 …in her own words they are ‘both surviving together’!

What impact has being a working parent had on you? Huge, I remember coming back after both my maternity leaves and being told ‘take your time to get back into understanding the business’. First time I thought, ok that’s fair enough, this is a big change, my priorities have changed. Second time I was told this same piece of advice, I thought hang on, I am different, I have changed, but for the better. By the time I get into work I’ve negotiated more peace deals than the UN, I have a completely different level of understanding of teamwork, I now understand more about how (or how not) to explain things, I can navigate tricky conversations, I know more about how your mind-set, mood that day and how little sleep you’ve had can impact these tiny humans you are raising. Then you arrive at work and have to deal with something completely different, but only because everyone is using bigger words and dressed in ‘work dress code’. And I love work. I don’t mind admitting, I’m engaged by working with others, feeling like I have accomplished something and made a difference. I personally have found the right balance between juggling home and work life and my children know both Mummy and Daddy work to get pennies for us as a family. I work flexibly (4 days) but for me that means that throughout the week my work works flexibly for me. There are peaks and troughs and I manage things in and around that. I’m lucky enough to work for an employer that respects that, trusts you and in turn I probably give more.

Did you always know what you wanted life after having children to look like? So yes, 9 months after having Edith I went back 3 days, I made the decision I wanted more time with Edith than at work (and I knew I wanted to go back to work). That was fine for me then and my employer gave me that flexibility, plus financially we were able to do that, but I know this isn’t possible for everyone. As she grew and had time at nursery and spent time with grandparents I did then decide to increase my days to 4. I was working 4 days anyway and only getting paid for 3, plus I knew in myself I was happy and comfortable to manage it (and not feel guilty!). Obviously, there is always a guilt, and there are always times you’ll need flexibility but as long as you are clear in the reasons why and it feels right for you, then that’s all you can do.

What’s the best thing that parenting has taught you? How much you can love someone / something so small! How it is the best and hardest job in the world. How everyone is in the same boat as you and probably felt the same as you along the way. How you and your partner’s relationship changes, how you navigate the good and the trickier, together. How you become so mindful of the impression you make, or want to make on your children…so I guess that’s a few things then!

What happens when work and home collide? How do you cope? Not that well! I’m a planner, I like to be organised. I know where the kids are going to be, and need to be each day, nursery bags are out and ready to go, clothes and shoes (with spares) are out and ready to go, we know who’s picking up, what’s for dinner, if one of us is staying away with work that we are covered. I recently discovered shared calendars on iPhone….it’s changed my life!
But safe to say, I love Fridays – my day off. When we can stay in our PJs …ok admittedly until about 8am as they get up at 5:30am, but where we don’t have to make a meeting, or start time. We can just sit, play and I can have a warm brew.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself when you began juggling kids and working? You do change – and that’s a good thing! Talk about it when you do go back to work, you didn’t forget your ‘work self’. You just added a whole load of additional skills to that interesting, exciting list

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If you are interested in sharing your experience of work and parenthood then please email us, we would LOVE to hear from you.