Let me start by saying that I really admire stay-at-home mums – it's a tough gig that doesn't get nearly enough recognition. I almost wish we had enough money so that I could be a full-time mum, too. I say 'almost', because I do enjoy working, too. I have skills, knowledge and decades of experience, and it feels a waste not to use them.
We live in an era where we're told men and women are equal. Generations of women before me have fought to ensure that we have a choice. No longer are you automatically chained to the kitchen sink the minute you say "I do". Married women can work. Mothers can work. If they want to - it's your choice.
Yet working mums are often overlooked in the workplace. Even worse, we face resentment over leaving work on time (as agreed in our contract) to collect children, fears of sudden days off to care for them if they're sick, or worse, daring to have another baby and subsequent time off work.
If mums return to work full time then we feel guilty about neglecting the children, seeing them only for a rushed breakfast in the morning and an equally rushed dinner, bath and bed in the evening. We worry about missing out on major milestones, not to mention the astronomical cost of childcare.
Don't miss... Kirsty McCabe "I'm not just a mother. Going to work keeps a little bit of my old identity alive."
In order to strike a work-life balance and to actually spend some time with our little ones, the ideal solution is to work more flexibly often by going part-time. But you can forget applying for promotions along with a whole host of benefits that are only applicable to the full timers.
Why are the same concerns never levelled at working dads? It really frustrates me that employers don't utilise the potential of working mums and all the collective knowledge, ability and skills we have. Usually we are in fairly senior roles when we have children, should we simply throw all that away once we become mums?
What's more, having children has given us new skills to bring back to the workplace. We are the masters of multitasking, we work hard in order to get the work done (no idle Facebook-ing in order to be seen at our desk way past normal hours) and time spent with toddlers has honed our skills in diplomacy, negotiation and even first aid.
What do you think? Are you a working mum? Are you worried about returning to work, or taking maternity leave? Let us know by commenting below...
We can budget, we're always prepared for any emergency and we can deal with cr*p. Literally, though we'd rather only have to deal with that from our own offspring. From sous chef to personal assistant, there are very few tasks that we cannot do single handedly, and by that, I mean literally with one hand (as the other is holding a baby).
When it comes to small businesses I can understand the reluctance to employ somebody who might disappear to have children on and off for a few years, leaving them to fork out maternity pay and their replacement's salary. But the government repays statuary maternity pay (at 103% I believe) so that cost is covered. Yes, it can be a hassle to find maternity cover, but it could also be an opportunity to find another great employee or test somebody at a more senior level with a view to future promotion. It shouldn't be an awful thing.
And let's look at some basic facts here. If no more children are born there will be nobody to look after you in your old age and nobody's earnings to tax and pay for your pension/healthcare etc. The only people who can have children are women. Very few women are physically or mentally ready to leap back into work a few weeks after giving birth and most will need some time off. Some might not return to work, but many want to do so.
Rather than penalise working mums, let's help make it easier. Every workplace is different but it's time we thought outside the box as to how we could use working mums. From more affordable childcare, to flexible hours or even more options to work from home. My kids think I'm amazing (I'm aware this changes once we get near the teenage years), so why can't employers recognise how great mums are, too?
What's more, better working arrangements shouldn't just be confined to mums. It's time we all improved our work-life balance.
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine every Friday to join in with the conversation
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