Return to work mums is a phrase that seems to conjour up judgement in some circles for a strange reason, especially if you’ve ever been on a internet parenting forum. However, the higher cost of living and the increasing divorce rate has meant that stay-at-home mums are becoming a rarity. While it does feel a bit like this has been the case forever, it is still a relatively new phenomena and one that requires some ironing out.
As a society, even full time working mothers tend to shoulder the majority of the household organisation, even if not always the actual doing. That is a longer issue than I will get involved in during this post so I will just say, as a working Mum, it is possible to sync your child’s needs with your work life and achieve a routine that makes your life balanced and stress-free.
Preparation for Work: When, Where and How
Make your own decision about when it’s right to return to work: The best advice on this will come from within. Every baby is different and every mother is different. When the time is right, you will know so don’t set yourself any hard and firm rules. The timing on returning to work is also dependable on what type of work you do so take that into consideration and don’t forget you may have the option of easing back into things with a part-time role or job share to start.
Make compromises with your employer to create a workable solution: Remember that being a working mother is very different to working when you do not have a child. Gone are the days where you can drop everything to come into work or stay back late (daycare fees if you don’t manage to get there on time are astronomical!) Speak to your employer about your circumstances and be completely honest with them to ensure you find a solution that works for the both of you.
If you are trying to find a new employer, explain the gap in your work history. If it’s been a significant amount of time since you last worked, you may feel uneasy about submitting a job application with a large gap in your work history. Honesty truly is the best policy in this scenario. Explain yourself clearly, unapologetically and in a concise manner. Mention in your cover letter that you are keen to return to work and make it clear you are psychologically and logistically ready to take it on and looking forward to a new career opportunity.
Getting Rid of Guilt
Often mothers feel extreme guilt when returning to work. This can be due to many factors, but common ones are when you feel you need to return to work before you are ready due to finances, or the flip side that you are wanting to return work for your own wellbeing. The best way to deal with guilt is to address it head on. Explain to your children (if they are old enough) and your partner or husband why you feel it’s necessary for you to start working again and discuss what you plan on doing.
It is important not to listen to anyone who is being unsupportive or judgemental.
No matter what you do as a parent these days, someone will always think its the wrong option. Remember that feeling guilty does no good. If you are doing what is best for you and your family, it will make for a happy and less stressed mum in the long run. If you’re organised and scheduling family time, you have nothing to feel guilty about, so just leave the guilt behind and enjoy the balancing act!
The Balancing Act
Make your partner do more: When you’re a stay at home mum, everything regarding the home and kids tends to be lumped onto your shoulders. If you are deciding to head back to work, make sure your partner (if you have one) understands that they need to shoulder some of the responsibility now. And this doesn’t just mean doing a bit more housework, but the organisational baggage as well, such as organising what the kids need for the week ahead, meal planning etc etc.
Set yourself goals: Become more organised than ever in your work and give yourself a list of achievable goals for each day. This will help you to ensure you’re not wasting your time so you can get home from work on time.
Find good help: If it is necessary for you to get a cleaner, nanny, baby sitter or any other help, find someone you can really trust so you truly don’t have to worry about it while you’re at home.
Working from home: If you work from home, create set hours when you work and set hours for family time. This will ensure you’re not just physically there but emotionally there for your children.
Use your support network: Bond with other working mothers and friends and agree to help each other out when it’s necessary. If you’re desperately in need of help, don’t be afraid to ask. There will come a time when you can repay the favour.
It’s a big deal adjusting to being back at work, particularly after your first child, so if you’re finding it all a bit challenging don’t worry it will get easier.
By following these useful and practical tips, your decision on returning to work will be made with minimal stress and worry!