Returning to work
Returning to work after maternity leave can be daunting. We’ll not lie, there are many, many challenges that parents need to deal with. Childcare, inflexible working hours, no sleep and trying to obtain and keep that elusive work-life balance. All these turn up the heat in the pressure cooker of family life. There are no easy answers, but there are some things you can do to help ease your way back into the world of work, and put your mind at rest in the process!
Count your transferable skills
It is understandable to feel de-skilled after being out of the workplace for any length of time. Months of nappies, feeding and CBeebies will inevitably take their toll. But you’ve got this! You have more transferable skills that you realise. Organisational skills, multi-tasking, diplomacy and patience are just some attributes that you will bring to the table. So, write a list of your skills and talents and stick it on the fridge. That way you’ll see how awesome you are every morning before breakfast!
Avoid taking your work home with you (easier said than done) and set boundaries between employment and family life. This means no smartphones at the table and refrain from checking emails at night. Okay, sometimes this can’t be helped, but most issues can be dealt with during work hours. Blurring those boundaries will not do anyone any favours. You’ll feel as though you have spread yourself too thin, you’re more likely to make mistakes, and your toddler may flush your phone down the loo.
Believe that you are amazing
Of all the challenges many parents deal with, a loss of confidence is one of the biggest, and it can be the most destructive. But it can be turned around. Remind yourself of how amazing you really are. You made a human being and you have given it a loving, comfortable home! You may have even produced the next Einstein or Mozart. Never underestimate your strength. Saying that, self-affirmation is all well and good but sometimes you might need a bit of help. Let your loved ones know if you’re struggling and allow them to help you, even if it’s taking the kids for a couple of hours so you can unwind. And the next time someone tells you how amazing you are, believe them!
Connect with like-minded parents
A problem shared is a problem halved, and this is especially true for parents of babies and young children. There is something very cathartic about sharing your experiences, even difficult ones. Struggling at work as a new parent? You’re not the only one. Feeling that you’re not able to give 100 per cent at work, at home or to your kids? Join the club! Talking things through makes us feel less isolated, and you’re more likely to get some fantastic advice from parents who have come through the other side. And if it’s difficult to get out because of the kids, then there are gazillions of online communities which have served as lifelines to many frazzled parents.
Educate yourself about flexible working
Jobs come in all shapes and sizes. Some lend themselves very well to managing the school run, but other jobs are more demanding and less flexible. Legally, employees have the right to request flexible working if they have been with the organisation for at least 26 weeks and have not already made a request within the past 12 months. There is no guarantee that your employer will accept this, but they are obliged to deal with the request in a reasonable manner. Your employers may already have flexible working policies in place, so it is always worth asking. Believe me, a little bit of flexibility can go a long, long way.
AUTHOR: SIAN OWEN
NEW MUM AND BABY, SURREY
Sian is a social media manager, copywriter, author and huge fan of flexible working. She currently works with Daisy Chain, an online platform that connects parents with family friendly employers, and her book, Social on a Shoestring, is available on Amazon and iTunes.