How to make the transition, plus staple workwear
Returning to the workplace after becoming a mother is a huge transition. Your priorities will have shifted and you now have a small person to consider when making decisions about your career. Whether you have been on maternity leave for a few months, a year or longer, we have listed the important points to consider when heading back into paid employment.
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It’s important to consider how the demands of your role will fit with motherhood. A few points to consider include:
- Does your role include travel or shift work or require you to regularly work overtime, or late into the evening?
- Are your hours compatible with your childcare arrangements?
- Does your employer offer flexible working arrangements? Can you do your job from home, job share or work flexible hours?
- Resuming your role after maternity leave? Your rights on your return will depend on the country you reside. That said, in most countries it is against the law for your employer to refuse to let you return to your job. If your role no longer exists, you are also usually legally entitled to return to a position for which you are qualified and suited, which is nearest in status and pay to your previous job.
- If you are returning to work but still want to continue breastfeeding, ask your employer for a private, safe and clean space to express. In most countries, your employer has a responsibility to provide a suitable area.
- If you are planning to ask for flexible working arrangements, whether this is part-time, working from home or amended hours, ensure you have all the details worked out before you approach your employer. Be prepared to argue your case.
- You will need to decide how your child will be taken care of while you are at work. Whether their carer will be a nanny, a nursery, a childminder, your partner or a family member, it is paramount that you are happy with the childcare you have chosen. If you know that your baby or toddler is content and well looked after, you will be able to ease back into work more smoothly.
- Deciding on childcare arrangements can be a complicated process. When choosing the type of care that works for you, factors you will need to consider include:
- The age of your child
- The cost
- Your working hours
- The distance the place of childcare is from your work and your home
- Your support network.
- Finding the childcare arrangement that is right for you and your family can be time-consuming. While looking into childcare before your baby is born might sound pre-emptive, if you are returning to work when your baby is only a few months old it is a necessary step. Even if you are taking extended maternity leave, competition for places at popular nursery or day care centres can mean that waiting lists will sometimes run to over a year. Being proactive will mean that won’t have the added pressure of time constraints.
- Even when you do find childcare arrangements that you are completely happy with, don’t be surprised if you experience a severe tug on your heartstrings when it comes to handing over the responsibility for caring for your baby. Conversely you might feel bad for finding your time at in the office easier than looking after a little person. Becoming a mother means that your life has changed irrevocably so it makes sense that returning to the workplace can bring up mixed emotions.
- Ask any mother the secret to the perfect work/life balance and they will tell you it doesn’t exist. There is no one ideal formula. What works for one women would be completely inconceivable for the next. The key is finding out what is best for you and your family.
Time management is something all mothers struggle with but planning ahead can help minimise the stress that comes with juggling children and work (sometimes on only a few hours sleep). Work out your priorities and devise a morning and evening routine for you and your little one that you can follow every day.
Here are a few time-saving tricks from the NINE IN THE MIRROR team…
While being organised will help you stay on top of things, don’t be too hard on yourself if you have days where everything goes wrong. Life with children is never perfect, so if you end up leaving the house with your toddler wearing odd shoes or forget that it is non-uniform day at your child’s school, know that every mother has these #MumFail moments, and tomorrow is another day.
Words by Amanda Woodward-Brown