You’ve been at home with your precious offspring for what seems like forever. You’ve just about had your fill of peekaboo, finger food and Mr Tumble. It’s time to think about going back to work, or to quote Lily Allen – initiating the ‘Mumback’.
For a lot of mums taking time out to have children, the thought of going back to work after you’ve had your baby is comfortably enough in the future not to spare a thought about just yet. But before you know it, your career break is at an end and you must take a long hard look at the mechanics of going back to work. And there is a lot to think about.
The reality of returning to the workplace is often very different from expectation. In the time you’ve been away, the familiar faces at work have been replaced with fresh young meat who clearly regard you as some sort of fossil with no idea on how to work the new photocopier. There may also have been changes within your role, which mean that the job you are coming back to is not quite the same as when you left. The truth is that in some sectors, employers don’t expect people to come back to work after taking time out to have children. It may be that you left your previous role to have children, and are now finding yourself trying to secure interviews with new companies. It can be a very daunting time, and can be even more stressful for parents who have had even longer out of the workplace than just the standard maternity leave.
Not only are you out of the loop in the workplace, you also have the added worry of trying to find childcare and working out whether your finances can cope with the fees that come along with it. There are a lot of parents out there lucky enough to have family and friends around who are willing to help, but for most mums and dads they have to find a suitable setting for their child that is not going to require a second mortgage to pay for.
Crippling childcare costs (which average £11,000 a year for most nurseries) and trying to navigate the new workplace can often put mums off going back to work. There are many different options to consider, including nursery, childminders and nanny’s. They all have their own pros and cons and you must seriously consider which option would work for you and your child.
Flexible working is something that is becoming more and more commonplace. Every employee now has the right to request flexible working, whether you’re a mother or not. Obviously, this does not guarantee a right to it, but merely opens up the lines of communication between you and your boss to try and come to a mutually beneficial agreement. It is worth writing down everything you would need to be able to work flexibly and still complete your workload efficiently, and an employer must seriously consider this. Flexible working is not just ‘part time’ hours, there are a whole host of different options available to you that will be of benefit to both you and your employer. These can include condensed hours, part time hours, working from home and job shares. Employers must have a sound business reason for refusal.
A flexible working environment will allow you to fully integrate back into work while also being able to do school drop offs and pick-ups, or having those few days a week off to spend with your child. It’s all about creating a work-life balance.
Once you have your childcare and flexible hours sorted, there is also the issue of getting back into the swing of the working environment. You may have lost your confidence somewhere along the way, and be finding it difficult to settle back into a work setting. There may be changes in your role that you are trying to get your head round, or you may find yourself trying to prove yourself to a new boss or employer.
The key to combatting all these issues is confidence. It’s all about selling yourself to your employer and making it blindingly obvious that you are and always have been an asset to their business. Whether you’ve been out for 9 months on maternity leave going back to your old role, or 5 years raising a brood and are looking for a new position, there are always skills that you have learnt whilst away that you can repackage and sell to an employer. There is help out there if you need it, including CV writing services, career coaches and confidence development workshops. Just have a search online in your local area.
The bottom line is, no matter how long you’ve been out of the rat race, there is always an opportunity somewhere for you to get back in there and build your career whilst juggling your growing family. Looking at flexible working options, different types of childcare and remembering that you have the skills and experience that an employer is looking for and building your confidence can help you on the road to a phenomenal ‘Mumback’.
For help and advice on flexible working, help finding a suitable role, childcare, and return to work skills get in contact with Simply Mums who can guide you through the process from start to finish.
Amy Southby – Simply Mums
Our resident blogger Mammysaurus is a working mum of 4, read her personal experience of returning to work after children here