Returning to work after maternity leave? ‘Maternity leave? What’s that?!’ This is what Victoria Beckham famously said on returning to work straight after the birth of her fourth child.
Well, it’s ok for some (who have an army of nannies), but returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting prospect for most mums, especially if the career break you took was longer than ten minutes postpartum.
A recent survey by the National Childcare Trust (NCT) found that mothers rated personal finances and ‘being pushed out of the loop’ in their career as the main incentives to going back to work.
The study also found the two biggest worries mothers have on but returning to work after maternity leave are:
- The cost and quality of childcare.
- Lack of flexible or part-time hours.
So there’s a lot to think about before you even dust off your CV, especially if you have had an extended career break. You may fear that you have lost your hard-earned skills, leading to a lack of confidence.
Add that to weighing up your finances with childcare costs and it seems an insurmountable task.
Don’t lose heart. Here are six career advice gems to get you back on that ladder:
Returning To Work after Maternity Leave – Top Tips
Give yourself time to think
What do you want to do? Basically you have two options: Go back to what you were doing before or try something new.
As well as being daunting, returning to work can also be an incredibly exciting time. Even if it means starting at the bottom, you may hit on a new job you really love.
Brush up on your skills
Do an IT course or voluntary work to get yourself up to speed and back in the company of adults. If you want to start something new; research training courses. Make sure your CV shines by using online resources. Get up-to-date with what is happening in your industry.
Don’t underestimate yourself, raising kids is not ‘time off’ but really hard work.
Work for yourself
No flexibility from employers? What if you employed you? Nowadays you can work at your kitchen table in your pyjamas – making money from home whilst being a stay-at-home mum. From writing to design, there are hundreds of options for freelancing online. Be bold, striking out on your own may be the best thing you ever do.
Get out there
Perhaps the most important tip of all. You may be buried under layers of Play Doh but networking is key to getting back on the ladder.
Reach out to other people. Women are especially good at empowering other women, so network with working mums online and at the school gates.
Contact anyone you knew in your former life, you never know what they might send your way…..Ask advice, even from strangers, most people are happy to talk about how they got to where they are.
Investigate childcare by talking to other mums. Try to negotiate flexible working, can you push five days into four? Don’t rule out applying for full-time positions, you may be able to haggle the hours down. Look into part-time and job sharing.
Remember that 80% of the British workforce are parents, they know about juggling hours and family.
Don’t give up
It can be disheartening when another rejection letter drops on the mat, or you’ve returned to your old job to find yourself pushed out.
You are not alone, many women have been in your position and have gone on to be stratospherically successful. Don’t think your first job back in the saddle will be your last, it could just be a stepping stone to a better one.
Remember, the average British woman lives until 84 – you have time. Check out our handy guide on smart ways to save on childcare costs.
What are your experiences of returning to work after maternity leave or starting a new career after having kids? Care to share? Care to share? You can leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!