City Mums & Dads - Is it time to escape?

by Lara Roche

The building anxiety on your delayed long commute home as nursery pick up time gets closer; the lose-either-way choice of that crucial meeting versus your child’s first assembly; the admirable goals of career-climber and involved-parent…and the feeling like you are failing at both.  It’s a familiar story for City professionals who are also parents.  It’s also the reason why becoming a parent is the prompt for an ever-increasing number of professionals to turn their back on the City each year in search of a better way.

I’ve coached numerous City professionals through their transition into working parent, and a significant number plan to continue in their City career and successfully do.  However many either return to the City and find it no longer works for them and their newly-shaped family or don’t intend to return at all once children arrive.  City professionals now often use the life-changing moment of becoming a parent as the impetus to escape the City and also transform their careers.

So if you’re a parent who wants a career but not a City one, are your options extremely limited?  Not at all.  If you think you may potentially be a professional parent City escapee your numerous options include:

  • A similar role closer to home – perhaps the smoothest choice; no need to change your skills, only your location with the bonus of a reduced commute. A decrease in salary is likely but may be offset thanks to the end of your City commuting costs.

    Getting started: register with local recruitment agencies and never underestimate the power of the direct approach, find local organisations you would love to work for and let them know that.

  • Setting up a venture or freelance offering in your professional field –this gives you the opportunity to utilise your expertise and to be your own boss. You’ll need to generate your own business but may well find that the contacts you built during your City career give you a flying start.

    Getting started: research, research, research – are there similar offerings already out there?  What could set you apart?  Is there a market for what you would be offering?  How keen would your existing contact base be to work with you?  Professional bodies, local business and enterprise groups can all be great sources of advice and support.

  • Retraining for a more family-compatible career – possibly the most time-consuming option but the rewards could include family-friendly hours in the form of flexible working, part-time hours or term-time contracts, enabling you to perfectly balance working and family life.

    Getting started:  work out what your areas of interest are, find out the earning potential in each and the training pathway to get there.  The National Careers Service is a great starting point for advice across the full spectrum of career options.

  • Become a “Parentpreneur” – exploit your new-found understanding of children and family life to create a venture that exactly addresses a need for parents and families. You’ll enrich the lives of other families while also maximising time with your own.

    Getting started:  talk incessantly to other parents – what is it they feel is lacking?  What do they find challenging?  What would they love to have but can’t find?  Then when you have identified a possible talk specifically about that – do they like the idea?  Have they come across anything similar?  Above all, would they commit their money to it?

These two City professionals left the City when they became parents and found opportunities that ideally suited both their careers and family life:

Su Brailey – escaped the City as a Senior Fundraising Manager for a national charity to become a Marketing Specialist in the independent schools sector:

I loved my job, but with two young children I began to resent the time I spent commuting and hated that I always had one eye on the clock at work for the mad dash for the train, regardless of whether the meeting I was in had finished – I felt like I was doing a bad job both at work and at home.  I was able to transfer my skills and experience to work in an industry that better suits my goal for a real family-work balance.  I now work in marketing, part-time and best of all term-time!”

Devenia Besant – escaped the City having worked for the likes of Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch to launch her own business ventures including most recently her online hub Epsom and Ewell Families:

“I decided to leave the City behind when I had my second child, simply because I couldn’t see how having a City career would fit with the family life I wanted – even down to the commute and the expense of childcare.  With my own business, I don’t work set hours, I set the rules and I’m around for every school play, sports day and assembly without asking for permission.  I call my working life the Justle as it’s one big Hustle and Juggle – it’s not always smooth-sailing but the rewards and benefits fit my family needs and I absolutely love what I do.”

So if you’re a City professional parent or parent-to-be looking for a better way to balance your work and family, it may be worth considering escaping the City.  As the many of us who have already left Zone 1 working life can testify – there is life on the other side.


Lara Roche is Co-Founder of Parents Inc, a coaching and learning consultancy specialising in successfully combining work and parenthood.  Lara also leads her own people strategy and learning consultancy, The Talent Sphere, using her expertise from over a decade of Board level HR roles in the City to transform individuals and organisations.

Making a career change whilst raising a family is no mean feat, but it’s a lot easier with the support of a like-minded community and guidance from experts.

Find out more about how our Career Change Accelerator can help you adjust your career to your own terms.

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