Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have spent the past nine months bonding with your baby, if you are lucky you could have taken extended maternity leave to 12 months or even used your annual leave entitlement to extend it. Whether you are deciding on becoming a stay at home mum, working mum or a combination of the two, you have to be comfortable in your choices and not feel pressured.
I chose to take 12 months off although this wasn’t my original plan. I was to return to work after 4 months (please bear in mind that I was clueless about babies at this point) Isabelle’s grandmother who no longer works had offered to look after her during the day. Obviously with me being a work at home mum now this arrangement never happened. I chose to stay at home with my little girl after my maternity leave had ended due to childcare costs and I wanted to spend time with my little girl and watch her grow.
I’m lucky in a way that I can work when needed and stay at home with my little girl, although I do miss going out to work and that adult interaction and to be honest I wouldn’t know where to start now if I chose to return to work.
Technically I did not return to a workplace but I am a working mum, I just work from home which makes things a little easier.
So why return to work?
Many miss the financial independence like I did. As much as the Mr had said “it’s ok” when I have used his bank cards to purchase myself new things (it doesn’t/didn’t happen very often) it always felt wrong, like the money belonged to him and that I should be doing something myself, earning my own way which is silly as I was raising his child. It was a joint decision
Some find that they miss going to work, they need space from their home life and actually enjoy going to work.
There are also occasions when employers do not want to lose their employees and take extra measures to allow their employees to return to work after having a baby. These can range from flexible hours to part time hours to help balance family and working life, this makes returning to work for mothers a smooth transition. Sadly this is not always the case and employers can make it difficult for employees to return to work and there are no regulations to say that they have to. Be it they do not understand the needs of parents or that the changes would not benefit the company in any way.
What happens if you decide not to return to work straight away after your maternity leave like I did but it is something that you want to do in the future? The likelihood is that you will have to search for another job. Now it’s not as scary as it seems but a lot of ladies like myself lack the confidence after having a career break to have children. Especially as industries are constantly moving at a rapid rate, what if we aren’t able to keep up? Don’t worry about it, take a deep breath because there is help at hand.
The government is willing mothers to return to work and I can understand why. If I didn’t have my own business then I would have to return to work myself. You’ve brought a child into the world and successfully gone through the hardest months so give yourself a pat on the back. Its a huge accomplishment (now I apologise if I sound as though I am giving a self help/self improvement seminar, I do not mean to) what I am simply trying to suggest is that bringing up a child is possibly one of the most challenging roles you will ever face, and to be truthful it’s not a piece of cake.
So here are my little snippets of advice
1) Do not underestimate yourself and your skills
2) Take a look at what you have done previously and decide if you still want to continue down that route. There’s nothing worse than hating what you do, if you fancy a change then now is the time.
3) Update your CV and give it a revamp, yes you have had a while off work but it’s out with the old and in with the new. Also get somebody to look over your CV, you can pay professional services for this but the majority of the time a friend or family member will do.
4) Take a look at help available, these website offer some great advice Mum & Career, Working Mums, Emmas Diary & Direct.gov.uk
5) Remember you are entitled to request flexible working hours from your employer as you employer must consider your request and respond to you in writing.
6) Don’t feel pressured into becoming a stay at home mum, introducing your child to childcare early has its benefits.
7) It’s always worth looking into help with the cost of childcare. Visit Direct.gov.uk for help with this
8) Have confidence in yourself
Actually searching for a job that will suit your requirements is now a lot easier, with access to the internet there are many job board websites where you can single out suitable job roles in all sectors, even specialist roles. Try to keep up to date with your career industry so you don’t feel so out of the loop and when contacting employers remember there’s nothing wrong with having an informal chat about job roles before you apply.
So if you fancy a change in career or are looking to change your working circumstances when you return to your employer there is always help at hand.