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In my last article I spoke about lone parents, and the struggles they inevitably face with childcare, employers’ expectations and coping with the day-to-day routine that is life.
But what is the reality, when a new mum goes back to work? Life is a whirlwind of emotions once you have a child. Your needs take a back seat; you have this tiny person relying on you for everything. After maternity leave has ended, you’re forced to make the decision whether to return to your place of employment or to consider other options.
What can you expect if you choose to return to your old job? It may be overwhelming for you - and your child - to place them in childcare on your first day back at work, without even contemplating the pressures that threaten to return, very firmly, back on your shoulders as soon as you walk through the door of the business.
A word of caution – do not assume that everything will still be the same as the day you left to have your baby. The workplace will have undoubtedly endured many changes while you were on maternity leave. Life changes continually – the only thing we can all rely on.
Staff may have changed, your desk may have moved and there may be a colleague that has eyeballed your job as a promotion for themselves, secretly hoping you wouldn’t come back to work. Worse still, what if you have a new boss?
I’d suggest that this period of readjustment is taken one day at a time. Request a meeting with your boss – even if it’s just a quick coffee - prior to coming back to work, followed up with another meeting on your first day back. Aim for an overview of the business, of staff changes and financial performance - basically, anything that is relevant to your job/department.
It is important that both you and your boss are realistic about each others’ expectations, for example if you used to burn the candle at both ends or took on large amounts of overtime in the past, it’s unlikely that this will still be practical, now you have a child demanding your attention.
Of course, it’s entirely feasible to be Superwoman; juggling, multi-tasking, having a fulfilling work-life, an organised and rewarding home-life and mutually satisfying personal relationships. However, this takes amazing time management skills and determination but it is possible (and usually demonstrated by the mother stood next to you at the school gates).
Know your stress triggers and make new friends in the office; embrace this next chapter in your life.
Finally, I would suggest that, just because you’ve returned to your old job, or equivalent, this doesn’t secure your future. It’s still just as important to write down your goals, relating both to your career and your personal life, so that you stay on-track and focused.
Louise Wightman is a qualified coach and works as a business and social media consultant. She is based in Glasgow and works freelance. Her website is www.approachthecoach.co.uk.
CAREERS NEED NURTURE TOO