After having children, returning to work as a working mum can feel like a bit of a minefield both practically and emotionally! I know because I have been there and done it. There are so many things that you are probably thinking about in terms of what needs to be put in place, what needs to be organised and maybe some worries or anxieties about how it’s all going to work out.
Below are some of the issues you may need to think about, to help you formulate a plan to make the transition back to work as smooth as possible.
Whether you are returning to a previous role, or looking for a new role which perhaps will fit in better with your family, you will need probably need to address the following:
1) Hours – if you are returning to a previous role, are you happy with the hours you previously worked, or is there the option to negotiate more “family” friendly hours. If you are looking for a new job, you need to think about the hours you wish to work and how this will impact on your finances, and family. Remember “Part-time” can include many different options: do you want to work school hours only, do you wish to work every day for a few hours, or would you prefer to work longer hours over less days? Would you prefer to work evenings or weekends or is this a definite no go area for you?
Being clear about this, especially when looking for a new role will give you a much clearer focus.
2) Childcare – Once you have confirmed you hours, you may then need to address the whole issue of childcare. Some parents are lucky and have relatives, a partner or husband who can look after the children for them whilst they are working. Other options may include, a nursery, child minder, nanny or au- pair. I am not an expert on childcare, and it is a personal decision for each parent. The main aspect I considered when I was thinking about childcare was: whether I wanted a more formal setting for childcare, with an educational slant, or whether I thought my child would flourish in a more “homely” /family setting? You may of course prefer your child to be looked after in your own home? The other issues to consider are obviously financial costs, space (if you are having an au-pair), possible financial support for child care and maybe a back up if your child is unwell and the nursery or child minder is unable to have your child.
3) You – There are a lot of differences returning to work for the first time as a mum. You have gone through a major transition yourself, and you may find that what was important to you before being a mum is actually not such a priority any longer. This was probably the hardest bit for me to deal with when I went back to work when my son was 18 months old. The range of emotions I felt; the anxieties about leaving him somewhere without me; having to trust that he was being well cared for in my absence, the conflict I experienced internally trying to balance the responsibility of my job with what was to me the most important role of being a mum, getting myself organised and into “work” mode each morning after leaving my son at nursery or after a sleepless night of being up with him if he was unwell, growing my confidence back in the world of work again and reconnecting with my professional skills and knowledge,( after being at home for nearly two years), working out my professional identity and persona as a working “mum”, dealing with a very “unchild friendly” boss, even though I was working for a children’s charity and finding the confidence to assert my rights in that context – all of this was a major challenge and part of the transition of becoming a working mum in my experience.
One of the most important aspects for me was having the “confidence” to embrace all of these changes and to make this transition. As I had trained many years earlier in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) I was fortunate to know how to “switch on “ my confidence, even if it didn’t feel that it was naturally there, to support me through the challenges of making the transition back to work. I had the tools to manage my state from mum (leaving my son at nursery in the morning and feeling guilty and sad that I wasn’t going to be with him all day and also praying that he would have a good day and be happy. Often in the early days I cried on the way to work, as I really didn’t want to leave him at nursery!) to the professional me, walking into work with my head held high, in professional mode, ready to meet the challenges of the day, focused, calm and in control: looking and sounding confident even thought I had been blabbing only 20 minutes earlier! The good news is that it did get easier and I know that both myself and my son benefited from me working, not just financially, but in many other ways too.
If you are a mum returning to work or even thinking about returning to work at some point, and you feel that you could do with some help with growing your confidence to embrace these changes then you may like to join myself and my colleague Sandra Collins ( An Image and Career Coach) on our one day workshop on 4th October 2012 being held in Ewell, Surrey. In this workshop, we will show you how confidence works and how to “switch on “ your confidence when you need it. We will also share techniques with you to help you build your confidence and Sandra will be sharing with you how to dress with confidence and for success. If you are interested in this low cost, high value workshop (your investment will be only £25 and 3 hours of your time!) please take a look at mum2me.