A Message from Dutyfy Founder, Kat Alder
It seems to me that a strange thing happens when a woman starts to consider parenthood. Options start to narrow down into two camps: being an ambitious mother or privileging career over everything else. There is no obvious happy medium.
While both of these options are widely talked about, with plenty of online resources telling us how to fill and perfect these roles, there is little talk of women who don’t feel comfortable in either camp. Since becoming pregnant, I have become increasingly frustrated with my own quest to find a middle path; one that fulfils the desire to be a good mother while continuing as a career woman, without sacrificing what is important to me.
Having built up my career over the past 10 years, it is important to me that I maintain that, and continue to enjoy the satisfaction it brings me. Equally, the ability to be the mother that I have always hoped I could be is essential. That includes my desire to be very hands on, with full, uncompromised involvement.
Like most people, I have always enjoyed activities and goals outside of work, and while my career is a vital piece of the puzzle it is certainly not the only one. Maintaining a ‘middle’ path requires cooperation from my partner and my work environment.
Unlike Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, whose book ‘Lean In’ has generated much debate about ‘having it all’, my ultimate ambition is not to be at board level of a FTSE 500 company, nor do I define success in that way. I have no desire to work 16-hour days, and I don’t believe many people really do. I have neither the funds nor the inclination to hire a full-time nanny and I want to play a full part in my child’s early development. Consequently, I feel Sandberg’s advice to ‘Lean In’ misses the mark for me and for many other women.
As such, I began to consider what solutions would be available to me. How could I make this work? Could I bring my newborn into the office? Could I work from home? Surely I’m not the only woman asking these questions, I thought, hence my desire to open up the discussion. If we share ideas, experiences and expertise perhaps together we can reach positive conclusions and open up more options.
So, what is Dutyfy? Through Dutyfy we want to challenge conventions, particularly for employed mothers. We will offer support, through networking, events, and online content to those who are seeking a sense of balance in their lives, who don’t want to sacrifice completely one part of their life to feed the other. We don’t believe celebrity endorsements, or the examples of extreme high achievers urging us down paths that seem totally unattainable, is relevant for conventional working women. We feel real-life stories and practical ideas will prove more helpful in trying to manage our lives and a career. Through our networking and events, we want to push for new ways of thinking within the workplace and parenting environment.