So the time has come. You have been off on maternity leave, enjoyed lots of cuddles and amazing times, as well as some exhausting ones. But your time is now up – so what do you do.
I think I cried for approx. a month when I realised I had to go back to work after my my first son was born – I went back to work full time when he was 9 months old. I was going to take a full 12 months of maternity leave but needed to go back earlier for financial reasons. I think when I left work I secretly thought perhaps I wouldn’t go back. Not to the same place anyway, but perhaps to a new employer. My reality was a bit different to my dream.
Depending on your circumstance here are my top 5 things to consider when returning to work.
- Do you need to/want to go back.
For some mums, once they have a baby and spend time with them – they really want to keep it that way. So if this is you, and you have no barriers, then good on you. That is fantastic and I am sure if/when you decide to re-join the workforce it will be great!
For other mums they want to stay home but need to go back to work – either for financial reasons or perhaps they just need to for themselves. A person’s identity can be intertwined with their career. Perhaps you just need to feel normal again – the normal you felt before babies – at least between 9am-5pm. If you need to return for financial reasons then this can be hard – because your heart just isn’t in it. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Whilst you will miss your baby immensely, sometimes we need to make hard choices in order to create brighter futures and for some, this is that choice. I am not going to lie it will be hard initially, but you will find your groove, you won’t miss out too much (they will be in school very soon anyway) and the cuddles you get after a long day at work are super special.
For a lot of mums they cannot wait to get back into the workforce. Being a stay at home mum just isn’t for them. They love their family to the moon and back – but having a career is also fulfilling to them and something they have a strong desire to do. Good on your if this is your path.
- It’s your life, it’s your choice
Many people are pretty opinionated especially when it comes to parenting. Breast or Bottle, Working mum/Stay at home mum, School/Home school, I could literally go on and on. But no one knows what is right for you and your family more so than you and your family. So do what is best for you. All families are extremely different. Walk to the beat of your own drum and make your life the life you wish to live.
- Care arrangements
Have some care arrangements and back up plans ready to go well in advance. It is no secret that Childcare in Australia is hard to find as well as expensive, so start looking as soon as you can and lock in your options. Always have a back-up plan. This may be a formal childcare centre a few days a week and then Grandparents a few days a week. This might give you some flexibility to upscale either option if and when you might need to.
- Build your village
Having a village is very important but for some it is hard to cultivate. If you have family nearby that is great – they will be a great help to assist when your child is unwell or needs to be looked after whilst you are building your career. Outside of family, look at friends, babysitters, neighbours and other people you trust and know well whom you can call on if you are really stretched.
It is great to work for an employer who offers flexibility. This might be working from home on occasion, ability to flex with your time (start early/finish early) or the ability to go back part time to start with. Many employees are now starting to acknowledge that flexibility is a key component to today’s working environment. Not just for mums but for everyone as we strive for more work life balance. If you are employed by a traditional employer then you need to think about if that is going to work for you and if not perhaps look at making a move. There are some great recruitment agencies and other organisations that specialise in flexible employment options I suggest you check them out. One I can suggest is Just Mums Recruitment – they are fab!
There are many other things to consider when going back to work. If you have any tips, or perhaps want to share your working mum story get in touch with us, we would love to share it!