The juggle – balancing a career with being a mum 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Mette Miersen, Partner at Valcon Nordics, and talked about work-life balance.

How do you maintain a balance between work and family life?

When I joined Valcon, I set clear boundaries for when I would finish my work day to pick up my children, which is around 4pm. Sometimes this means clocking in early or opening my computer for an hour in the evening, but this is something I do not mind doing so I can have this balance. When you have children, it’s so important to structure your life and be mindful of the distinction of being at work or at home. The trick is to plan ahead and manage expectations. Sometimes, the pressure to respond straight away is hard to resist – but it’s okay to hit pause. 

What is the most challenging aspect of balancing work and family life?

In many ways, the real challenge lies in mentally adapting to a different work dynamic and acknowledging that you can’t exert yourself in the same way you used to. This doesn’t mean you can’t excel or be a top performer but there’s something more important which demands your time and focus. Having kids is one of the most rewarding aspects of life. But it also means you have to channel a certain amount of energy towards your family. Sick days and parent-teacher meetings are just part of the package.

How has it changed as the children get older?

There has been a big shift from the daycare days to now, with my kids attending school. Practical aspects have changed, such as children walking home on their own – there is less need for pickups and they can manage a bit more on their own. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to be present with your family – you absolutely do. But their growing independence has provided a new level of flexibility.

Have you ever found yourself having to compromise with your career or family life?

I would rather say that I choose more selectively what I want to be a part of. When I look at my week and see three events I might want to attend, I might prioritise one of them, and that’s perfectly fine. If there are maybe three or four company parties a year, I might attend two of them. I also attend a fair deal of meetings from the car! I also evaluate whether I can work from home. So, it boils down to a lot of acceptance. I don’t feel like I’ve had to compromise much, but there are moments when being at the office for a meeting would have been nice. But if I’m not able to be there, that’s okay too. 

What pieces of advice would you offer to a new parent?

I would say keep two things in mind. Firstly, having children is a phase in life – a period when you’ll find certain aspects challenging. But you’ll get through it, and then things change again and a new phase begins. It’s important to enjoy this time while it lasts. 

Secondly, there is more to life than just work. While getting ahead in your career is important, it doesn’t necessarily need to happen right away. Our industry is hyper focused on progress and trying to achieve everything at once. I share those ambitions too, but upon reflection, I’ve realised that I can pursue a career while raising children, but not at the cost of missing out on their lives.