SARAH BALMER REFLECTS ON RETURNING TO WORK AFTER BABY NO.3 AND THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF RUNNING A BUSINESS WITH THREE CHILDREN UNDER THREE
If you had told me just four years ago, that by 2022, I would have a seven year old digital marketing Agency, I would have been delighted, proud and excited. If you then went on to say, I would meet my husband, and give birth to three children (currently under three) and get a dog – I would have cried, then laughed hysterically and gone to bed for a very long nap.
It was only five years ago that I had an Agency which mostly employed contractors. I had freedom and time. I was single with no house, no children and no pets. It’s amazing how things can change.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
My journey began a long time ago. As a born worker and problem solver, I’ve had some great and not so great jobs. At the ripe old age of ten, I was flogging my homemade wares at our local markets. At twelve, everyday after school I worked as a mothers helper. Then by fourteen years and nine months, I was falling over myself to work at Donut King; who doesn’t like a donut?! After working in a lot of retail stores, pubs and restaurants while completing university, I arrived in London with my first professional gig at Channel 4. While I stayed in the UK as long as my visa permitted (two years), it would not be my last stint away from Melbourne. In my late 20’s my working ambition propelled my career to Dubai (three years), then onto Sydney for five years to work at American Express. With a healthy balance of client side and agency experience, I returned to my home Melbourne in 2014, where Balmer Agency was born.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
Balmer Agency has taken many forms over the past seven years, and will no doubt take on many more. When I came up through the ranks, over two decades ago, digital marketing didn’t really exist, project management was excel and working until 7.30pm was considered a half-day. Work experience was about time in role (less than two years was a shameful blight on the CV), pregnancy was pretty much career ending, and #metoo was swept under the carpet. Barriers, boundaries, flexibility, perks and support in the workplace were unfortunately non-existent. I find the shift towards employee wellbeing over the past two decades not only overdue but also essential.
It goes without saying, as a mother and small business owner, some days are trickier than others. I have returned to work five weeks after baby number three, she is now four months old. This is sadly my longest maternity leave of the three babies. My early return was driven by COVID, resourcing, and the general rollercoaster ride of running a small marketing business. It has however shown me that, despite the sacrifices, with a fabulous team, the nicest clients, a truly supportive husband, wonderful family and friends, anything is possible.
Childcare with three children under three was always going to be a struggle. We have been so lucky to have the help of the children’s gorgeous grandmothers, which has allowed me to alternate between cuddling my babies and working throughout the day. Once they are a bit older, paid daycare has become a necessary ingredient in keeping this whole thing afloat. Where possible I try to make sure that the children don’t do super long days with external care. I make up for the work when everyone is in bed. I know I’m not alone in the ‘night sprint’, my three sisters and I all do the same thing – endlessly trying to get the time back as we juggle work and family life.
Working hard has been something I was brought up to do. Something my parents instilled in me. I believe you can have ambition, a career and a family. My team is a testament to this – 75% are parents, and over 80% are females. I believe that says a lot about our culture at Balmer and who we are as a business. Over the years I’ve been determined to create a family friendly agency, with a fabulous ego free team, loads of integrity, and a portfolio of clients that we are truly invested in. The past seven years have been all about getting to this point and I cannot wait to see what the next chapter brings.
Balmer Agency began in Melbourne in 2014, when businesses were trying to navigate the uncharted digital landscape without much luck. The market was cluttered (and still is!) with cowboys who over-promised and under-delivered, all the while making the process more complicated than it needed to be. We saw an opportunity to create a full-service marketing agency with integrity. We keep it simple and totally transparent.
We have extensive experience in creating and managing marketing strategies for some of Australia’s most successful companies. We partner to deliver marketing solutions that help you achieve your business goals and objectives.