Back to Work Guide for New Mums
Back to Work Guide for New Mums
When it comes to returning to work following childbirth it’s all too easy to think there is aRight Way of doing things, and a Wrong Way. However, the reality very much is that there is no One Size Fits All approach. There is only the right solution, often made up of a myriad of compromises, for you and your family. So forget what the Martha Stewart wannabe up to her elbows in glitter is doing, or what Ms. “Baby Fits Into My Life” workaholic is up to. Do what’s best for you.
However, knowing how to broach the Pandora’s Box that is Returning to Work is the first major hurdle. Approaching this new life-change with a strategy puts the control firmly back in your court which, as all new mums will attest to, is a nice feeling to have in these days of random night wakings, unpredictable tears, and developmental leaps and spurts that seem to have nothing to do with any of your labours, and everything to do with Sod’s Law.
Drop the Guilt
All newborn congratulations cards should have an insert that reads: “welcome to guilt”, and returning to work is a big item on the Guilt Agenda. Everyone wants, or needs, a piece of you. Returning to work is going to challenge the Guilt-o-Meter enormously. Are you earning enough? Are you seeing baby enough? Could you have done better on that project if you weren’t worrying about your chickenpox-covered toddler at home?
The chances are, just for good measure, the guilt will be mixing in with a full array of emotions, from elation and freedom, a relishing of intellectual freedom, with the negativesof exhaustion, pressure, or a sense that you’re simply spread too thinly.
But do yourself a favour and drop the guilt. 60% of mothers who have children under three are working (link: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/going-back-to- work.aspx). You aren’t damaging your child. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Getting the timing right isn’t easy either: return to work when your baby is less than 6 months old and
you’re more likely to trigger Post Natal Depression compared to staying at home, but leave it until after baby is 12 months old and staying home in turn could itself now trigger PND
(link: http://www.madeformums.com/news-and-gossip/short-maternity-leave-raises-pnd- risk/28457.html). And there are a great deal of positives about going back to work.
The Pros of Being a Working Mum
It may be financial necessity, or at least include an element of financial need, but there are many other benefits to being a working mother. Increased family finances is good all round for the family who have less worries and more options. Beyond this you are role-modelling adult life fully to your children including financial independence and intellectual worth. Thenthere’s the importance of putting women and mothers on an equal footing with men andfathers. There is also the positive of getting back to work sooner enabling you to build your career with more room and opportunity for progression.
Boost Your Confidence
You’ve undergone an enormous life change by having a new addition. Chances are that’sshaken the ground under your feet a little or even a lot, and you’re feeling less thanconfident about hauling your tired, mummy self in to the work place. This is where distance- learning can come in to help you bridge the gap between your professional life before children to after children.
First, the same job may not suit you anymore. You may be looking at a career change to fit in around family life better, or simply because now is a good time to make the change. Distance learning is a fantastic platform for mums easing their way back in to work andboosting their confidence. Distance learning can be done flexibly around your family’s needswhilst giving you the assurance you have an up to date skill set.
As well as this, don’t forget the skills you’ve gained. Motherhood brings with it a steep learning curve and you’re probably now scoring higher than ever on essential professionalskills such as people skills, creative problem-solving, time-management and multi-tasking.
You may need to start thinking outside of the box to relaunch your career. Think about what you need from work and then work to fulfil that brief. Are finances most important? Or flexible hours because you have a child with frequent medical appointments? What can your partner, family or friends help with?
Once you have your ‘wish list’ then think about what roles can fulfil this. Don’t rule outapplying for full time positions because you may find this is in fact negotiable. Look at different options, again using Distance Learning to bridge the gap from the skills you have now to the ones you need for the future post-baby career of your choice. Keep up to date on the industry so that you know any important developments.
Get Juggling, Get Planning
You’ve probably gone from 0 to 60 on daily planning. Where once you gaily skipped out ofthe house grabbing keys, purse and phone, you’re now there with a military operation withsupplies adequate for scaling Everest. Those skills need to go to a new level once again when it comes to returning to work.
Planning and preparation will make working and raising a family possible. The number one issue here is childcare: get the best, most flexible childcare that you can afford. Then apportion tasks and get delegating. If you have a partner then now might be a good time to re-establish the household share of chores, or better still buy in help.
Once you know what your routine will be, get practicing. You don’t want to be juggling tiredness, return to work angst, and a new routine all at once, for you or your little one.
Know Your Rights
Mothers have never had it better in terms of legal protection when returning to work, but unfortunately you may still need to be your own advocate here. As this article in the Guardian (link: http://www.theguardian.com/careers/returning-to-work-after-children- advice) states, Know Your Rights.
Stick With It
Returning to work after having children is a monumental change, but it does get easier in time. You will all adjust, you will find your confidence, and it will work out for the whole family, even if you have to keep telling the Guilt Gremlin to get back in his box.