Barely a day goes by currently without another story focusing on how mums are struggling to re-enter the workplace, agree flexi-working with their employer or are fighting to make ends meet with rising childcare costs.
Having just come back after 15 months off following the birth of my second, being given the opportunity to flex hours, working days and support my family without being made to feel guilty is more important than ever. Being a parent is hard and it’s not like a whole host of skills aren’t developed and honed during maternity leave that are crucial for the workplace. With a newborn and a toddler hanging around I’ve learnt how to multitask like nothing I’ve ever experienced and add to that enhanced skills in negotiating, time management and activity planning to name a few!
Mums should be welcomed back with open arms by employers. We’re excited to return and hope that enthusiasm is matched at the prospect of getting a trusted pair of hands back in the company. With that said it can also be really daunting. So, here’s my top tips on returning to the workplace, getting the balance you need to thrive doing what you love, while ensuring you have enough time to spend with your children.
- Agree your working hours and day – Spend time considering what hours you need to work to cover your expenses but also the things you really don’t want to be missing out on to help you find a balance. For me, dinner is one thing I want to be around for. It makes me happy to catch up with my boys after a long day. Speak to your line manager and HR a good few months before you’re due back to agree new hours and working patterns.
- Preparation is key – Whether it’s working out meals for the week to save an end of day rush, who’s doing the nursery pick up/drop off, or what you’re going to wear the next day, prep can save you time so you get an extra few precious moments with your child and remove unnecessary stress. It takes a while to find your new flow so this will help.
- Go easy on your first week – I was exhausted after week one. Clear your diary, organise a chilled evening on the Friday and put your feet up.
- Don’t ever say sorry if something crops up – Kids fall ill ALL THE TIME. Never apologise for needing to care for your little one. Or if you’ve been asked to switch your days and aren’t able to. Be honest and open about your options – or lack of them.
- Be kind to yourself – A lack of confidence and imposter syndrome are so common when you return to work after such a long time off and having had your sole focus on your little one. Give yourself time and it will come back. In the meantime, factor in a little longer to complete tasks, ask colleagues for support and don’t be afraid to have open conversations with your line manager
~Lauren Salmon, Senior Account Director