I left my job two years ago to stay at home! We had a combined family from the day we got married. I did part-time jobs to help us financially! It’s been 7-weeks since we had our second baby. I struggle emotionally with leaving him at home, but it would be nice to get out and start having normal conversations with adults again. I’m hoping to prepare myself to get back into the workforce successfully. It is the most common story of moms going back to work after a baby.
For new moms, returning to work after a baby can be a tough decision. And you have every right to be nervous about it. You may even feel like you don’t know where to start again. Whether it has been a few years or maybe a few months out of the workforce, here is a list of tips to get you going in the right direction.
1. Preparation is vital
It’s natural for new moms to feel guilt and separation anxiety when first leaving kids for work. Rather than rushing headlong into returning to work and risking burn out, early preparation will make returning to work more sustainable and enjoyable.
At first, ease yourself into the childcare process. Some time apart from your kid is the ideal opportunity to make you mentally and emotionally prepared to have a full day back in the office. Try practicing it over a 2-3 week period, and commit to treating yourself well during those times and not rushing home to do the housework or shopping. Those “Me Time” is important to recharge your batteries before going back to work after a baby.
Also, don’t forget to read some books to make returning to work as smooth as possible. Written by Jessica Shortall, “Work. Pump. Repeat” has some great advices for moms planning to go back to work after maternity leave. They are not only informative but also fun and easy to read.
2. Manage your expectations
You have gone through a massive transition in life, and you now have more to juggle. The first few weeks back to work can be exceptionally tiring. Often, you might feel overwhelmed and depressed about going back to work just after having a baby. The good news is you are not alone. It’s completely normal during the early weeks, and every working mom feels like this!
However, with a little forethought and planning, you can make it through the first few weeks. Learn how to be VERY efficient with your time. Keep your office chitchat to a minimum and get the job done in a timely fashion; so that you can get to spend more time with your family.
Remember to be nice to yourself in those early days. You’re adjusting to a new lifestyle, and it will take some time to feel a sense of normality.
3. Find a support system
Recognize that it’s a change for the whole family and get the whole family on board with that before returning to work. Make sure you have good childcare set up – be it grandparents, a local crèche, or a friend before you enter this new phase of your life. Talking about it and sharing experiences with others who have gone through similar situations is also helpful.
It’s crucial that you don’t feel the burden rests entirely on your shoulders. Trying to balance work, family, and other responsibilities all by yourself can become emotionally challenging and could lead to burnout. Discuss with your partner or support network what happens in the event of the baby getting sick. Having the conversation before it happens takes away the stress of dealing with it at that moment.
4. Decide what works best for you
Try to make time work for you – not the other way around. If it’s more efficient for you to work from home for a few hours and then come into the office, request flexible working during the interview. There’s never been a better time to request flexible working, but the way you approach your request can have a big impact on the outcome. Here are some key pointers to help you seal the deal.
Think about the kind of flexibility you might need
From the school pick-ups to the last minute childcare plans falling through or your child being sick, there are many reasons to seek a little flexible work. There are different types of flexible work for moms out there, which include:
- Part-Time Contract
- Work Remotely
- Work With a Flexible Schedule
- Term Time Only Contracts
- Compressed Hours (A Full Working Week in Fewer, Longer Days)
- Job Sharing
Consider how to ask your boss for flexible working
To improve your chances of success, here are some tips on how to persuade your boss to agree to flexible working:
1) Be confident while asking for flexible work
2) Talk about how they will actually benefit from you working less
3) Emphasize your career plan and remind them you’re still ambitious
4) Anticipate and address potential concerns your boss may have
Once you’re ready to make a proposal for flexible working, approach the discussion with an open mind. Always be willing to try out a trial test before making a long-term commitment.
5. Networking is important
Building your professional network is important for your sanity. It’s your responsibility to let everyone know that you are re-entering the workforce after maternity leave. If you have not created a profile on the professional networking website LinkedIn, then do it now! If you already have a well-built profile and a number of connections, then start networking.
Get in touch with former co-workers and classmates. Before you reach out to anyone, create a brief elevator pitch that sums up what kind of work you’re looking for and what your experience is. Meet for coffee or a drink. These coffee shops meetings can often help you land your first job after maternity leave.
6. List your unpaid work experience
Your hard work as a mom should not go unnoticed. You most likely do not even realize that all the daily tasks you handle could be valuable skills for the workplace.
Just think about it, childcare involves:
- Time management skills
- Money management skills
- Great organizational skills
- Patience and
- Effective multi-tasking.
All these skills are of great benefit to an employer and relevant to many roles. Recording your accomplishments will boost your self-confidence during the job search.
7. Be creative in updating your resume
If you have been away from work for a while, then you will have a gap in your employment history. But most likely you have spent time running the school Parent-Teacher Association, or home-based business or volunteered at non-profits. You may have even organized various local MOM clubs and activity groups. Find a way to give yourself credit for all the unpaid work you did.
While updating your resume, you may need to consider some skills that are important, but you haven’t used it in years. Brush up on these skills before listing them on your resume. You can even encourage yourself to take some classes at the local library or community college.
8. Look for the best companies for working moms in your area
Find a company that appreciates motherhood and can provide — the right support for a balanced life. When you interview, make sure to ask questions about the corporate culture to find out how they are cultivating an environment that is supportive of working parents. You can’t change a company’s values, but you can find a company with values that align with your own.
9. Know your childcare options
Don’t start networking until you have got the right infrastructure to support your return to work. Make sure you have considered your childcare options.
Many companies offer on-site childcare facility. Find out the costs so that you know salary requirements for making your return to work worthwhile financially. Learn about the curriculum, activities, and nutrition that are provided by your childcare options. Also, consider the location, how far away are you from the facility. Then make your choice wisely! Knowing your baby will be well-taken care of, will give you peace of mind.
10. Find a mentor
It can be useful to get in touch with a trusted friend who has been through the same experience or a professional mummy mentor in advance of returning to get a sense of the lay of the land. They can help you prepare the groundwork for the first weeks back.
A mommy mentor can also help you rebuild your confidence after a significant break from work. In addition to setting your career path, a mentor can help you with other common new mom issues like marital or financial problems.
Even though you don’t find a mommy mentor, you will turn out just fine. Try to find other women who are trying to return to the workforce and meet regularly to share experiences and strategies. There is a good chance you will get some valuable insights from your mommy network.
11. Make time for your self-care
You know what a women’s greatest enemy is. “It’s lack of time to herself,” says Brigid Schulte, an award-winning journalist and author of Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Fitting time for self-care and fun activities into a full-time work schedule can be exhausting but doable. Even a small adjustment to your normal routine can work out just fine.
Brigid Schulte recommends making your well-being a priority. Make sure to get time for yourself every day, including focusing on physical and mental well-being exercises and quality time with your loved ones. However, don’t beat yourself up if you occasionally get the balance wrong: it’s not about getting it right every single day. Think about your work-life balance over a longer continuum, rather than striving to hit it daily.
12. Beware of returning to work after maternity leave emotions
Postpartum emotions such as fear, anxiety, or depression are common among moms going back to work after a baby. Unfortunately, a large number of new moms don’t take these emotions seriously because there is little awareness around the issues. Some don’t seek professional help because they feel embarrassed.
Ignoring these emotions is not the ideal way to deal with them. Ignoring them can even make matters worse. However, dealing with them in the early will make the transition easier for you. Here’s how to cope with the emotions.
- Learn to appreciate everything you have when you feel like life is too difficult for you.
- Create a positive little mantra for yourself. Start each day by telling yourself, “you can do this, or you’re doing a great job so far.” This will reassure that you are indeed doing the best you can.
- Look for motivation in everything you do. If you get frustrated with doing the same thing at work over and over again, just try to see the bigger picture of what you will receive in return for your cooperation. Keep in mind that everything you are doing is for your family. Never ever lose sight of the bigger picture because the aftermath of all your toiling is a wonderful and happy life.
Finding solutions that are right for you is always a work in progress. Share what worked for you in the comment box below.