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Doors to Manual: Motherhood and Returning to Work

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Kids don't come with a manual. Seriously, my dishwasher came with more instructions than the human that came into our world (WTF). If you're heading back to work or jumping into the workforce after welcoming a new family member then here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.


Flexibility

You may have a plan to work X days a week or what your return will look like. That all sounds great, but things don't always run to plan. It's helpful to line up a couple of alternative scenarios in case those situations crop up. Childcare might be lined up but things change if you rely on family or friends, or if your provider doesn't offer the daycare schedule you need. Over-plan your childcare. It's much easier to pick your kid up early from a full day daycare setting than to be running late as your provider closes mid-afternoon. Trust me I've been there.


Policies

There are lots of policies in place (within UK work environments at least) to support you. So do engage proactively with your HR provider to find out what happens if you need to step away from your work at short notice for childcare issues. This is particularly helpful (albeit not perfect) if your little one has more caring needs. https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave/entitlement


Maternity Leave

Motherhood is challenging so go easy on yourself. If you've had a difficult maternity leave its worth opening up to your line manager or a senior leader in your business that you trust alongside HR. It can really help to ease you back in and on the days where things get all too much things can be handled more sensitively. Most humans will have empathy (beyond the workload) and if you're employer is smart about it they will see the rewards of that in your commitment and loyalty to them. If they're not then it's time to plan your next move.


Your Career Future

Just because your on the mum shift now doesn't mean it's game over for your career. It's all about thinking strategically about what you need to achieve at work and what your goals are at home and work. You have zero time for faff. Heading back to work with a clear view of your ambitions/goals can help you navigate those early workload conversations - its your best tool. This will enable you to make sure you are working on the right projects that will deliver for your boss but that lean closer to what you want (whatever that looks like for you). No matter how tricky your work environment maybe there are always solutions in or outside of that environment. It may take a bit of time but remember that things are only for a season.


Outsource

Start from where you are. If you're pressured on time then it's time to figure out what you can let go of. Skip the ironing - that's 4hours+ that you've got back in your pocket. Figure out what tasks you have at home and ask yourself if they are really essential. Remove one thing from your to-do list each week - figure out a smarter way to get it done or work around it. No matter your income or lifestyle there is always something that you can do - you just need a bit of thinking time for a solution. Hard cash helps of course it does but smart thinking is pretty damn good.


We support working mums from all walks of life design a career on their terms through:

  • Coaching - get back in control of your career

  • Newsletter - tips to support your work-life

  • Talks - working with organisations and groups supporting new mothers entering or returning to the workforce

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