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I’ve crossed over to the darkside? Why I’m hiring a virtual assistant.

iStock_000025613584SmallI never thought that my life or career ambition would end up by being a working mum.

I had bigger ambitions than that.

A job in the world of F1 Motor Racing, maybe Lewis Hamilton’s PA, the first female to play for the all male england cricket team, a features writer for a big magazine.

Such were my heady delusions of grandeur.

Instead I find myself a working mother of two children, a business owner, a life juggler extraordinaire and a skilled negotiator in the art of how to keep two boys from wanting to kill each other when my back is turned.

Being a working mum is a proper job, it may not be in the same league as an astrophysicist, meteorologist or a Doctor but it carries with it great responsibility and tenderness.

There is no three year course at university and no qualification at the end of it nor does it require you to sit an exam to prove you are an effective working mum. It’s on the job training by the seat of your pants.

Women are definitely working longer and harder and I don’t need to prove it with statistics just open your eyes and it’s evident to see.

As a working mother and business owner I, like many other women contribute to the economy by generating taxes and along with my husband am responsible for raising two children and yet, in spite of this, working mothers receive no recognition for the work we do.

I’m confident that I am not alone in expressing this sentiment.

The office of national statistics reports that 13.8 million women represent almost half of the UK’s workforce.

Outsourcing ConceptIn sharp contrast, 1.2 million mothers have chosen to stay at home and raise their children because of spiralling childcare costs.

Women are having to work longer due to the change in pension age but the increase in women working is also as a direct result of the UK’s economy.

Men and women are having to generate dual incomes for their households many of whom are struggling with the increase in living costs, child care fees, salary sacrifices and a significant rise in the standard of living.

It’s hardly surprising that women are taking on and juggling more tasks than at any time in their career.

When chancellor George Osborne made his infamous remark that stay at home mums are making a lifestyle choice he couldn’t have been further off the mark.

I wanted to be a stay at home mum and I was for the first five months following the birth of my children but work and financial commitments meant that I didn’t have a choice without our lifestyle being downgraded.

Childcare fees at the time were affordable as I was only working three days a week and childcare gave me the opportunity to work and have time with my babies. Anger

On reflection I do believe I got the balance right.

As my earlier blogs have alluded to, the difficulties of balancing motherhood with work and career are immense.

Women continually weigh the scales: can we really manage a home life, family, children, social life and career?

News just in: we can’t!

I can’t!

It is a daily struggle to get the balance and without trying to be super ‘mum’. I want to be able to work, sleep, eat and pray not necessarily in that order without collapsing in a heap at the end of every working day.

But like most mums I’m permanently exhausted my mind is like my favourite app ‘evernote’. It is a list of work related tasks that need to get done followed by the personal tasks that lay incomplete.

Arrange dinner with friends who invited us for dinner back in August 2012 or, pop over and see my non-working friend for a coffee who is just over a mile away from my offices, arrange to meet lunch with a girlfriend who I last saw in November.

It’s not that I’m disorganised, I can’t find the time in an otherwise jammed back work diary.

I’m exhausted by the time I’ve finished with dinner, sorting another round of dirty washing, school stuff like form signing to give permission for events or planning who does the parents evening, who picks up who from where and when, responding to important but non urgent emails that by the end of the day the prospect of calling or texting to arrange a get together, lunch date, dinner ensemble I’m done, finished for the evening and all I want to do is get to bed.

The “no matter what I do, what I say, I never seem to make everyone happy, yet I’m working really hard to do the best that I can and still it all falls over” rings true to life.

My idea of an exciting night in is to be in bed by 8:45PM and not for some tantric illicit sex, god knows my husband tries but for that elusive yet essential elixir to life S.L.E.E.P.

I admit sleep rules my life, I’m sleep deprived and have been since oh, let me guess fourteen years ago when my firstborn came along and I’ve been catching up ever since.

I can’t get enough sleep, my beloved wishes I felt the same way about sex!

My eldest son is often the last one to turn out the lights and put the house alarm on.

iStock_000019461855SmallRecently something happened, I had one of those light bulb moments.

Why don’t I get a VA – a virtual assistant. Outsourcing all of those non essential, but important tasks to a VA. For the last twenty years I’ve been extolling the virtues of outsourcing. How the benefits save an organisation in time, money and resources by outsourcing non-core business activities.

Even if you are brilliant at party planning,  shopping or ironing if spending your time on a more valuable activity means you get more out of life and feel less stressed than it has to be worth it.

The benefits far outweigh the cost if you get more time to do the really important things. I have decided to outsource my ever increasing long list of important business and project tasks that sit there waiting to get done.

As part of the process I’ve been researching companies across the globe from India, Australia to the USA.

A VA based in any continent makes no difference as it’s all virtual.

There is one flaw in my carefully thought out plan, my wardrobes won’t get organised, my kitchen cupboards won’t get cleaned but I guess at some point there will be an app for that too.

I’ll let you know how I get on in my quest for Virtual Assistant.



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