From the cradle to the workplace
The prospect of returning to work after having children can be very daunting for mothers for many reasons. The Careers Advice Service, in collaboration with Sherridan Hughes, an occupational psychologist and expert in career management, has developed a six-point plan to support mums who are going back to work.
Research shows that two-thirds of all mothers now return to work after having a baby – an increase of 50 per cent since the 1980s, according to the Policy Studies Institute. The research also reveals that almost 70 per cent of mothers with children under five now work, up from just 38 per cent ten years ago.
Yvonne Fox-Bibby, a careers coach at the Careers Advice Service has been workign with occupational psychologist Sherridan Hughes have developed some tips to help mothers going back to work who face multiple issues, including the stress of balancing work and family life.
Hughes says: “The job market has changed significantly for women in the last twenty years. We are far more likely to go back to work after having a baby and we are also taking less leave, before and after childbirth. Some of us may feel this is due to financial pressures, but others may be seeking to minimise interruptions to their careers. The Careers Advice Service’s tips aim to help mums across the country be more prepared when returning to work.”
Tip 1: BE REALISTIC
Honestly assess your situation and understand your true motivations for returning to work to help you make an informed decision.
- Think about why you want to return to work – are you hungry to climb the corporate ladder, or do you simply want to supplement the family finances?
- Consider carefully both the financial and emotional implications surrounding childcare – for example, you may not realise how much you will miss your child, or even end up resenting the carer who is looking after them! – and what arrangements you will need.
Tip 2: TIME FOR A CHANGE?
Think about whether you want to return to your previous field or place of employment, or try something new.
- Are you returning to your former place of work, or are you ready to embrace a different challenge or even a brand new career?
- Don’t be put off from exploring new horizons, even if you may be doubting your own abilities after time out from the workplace – you’ll be surprised at what you can do.
Tip 3: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Don’t be afraid to talk to those around you about your professional intentions.
- Use your network of friends, other mothers at your playgroup, and even family members for support, they can all help you keep in touch with what is happening in the workplace
- Talking about your plan to return to work and sharing insights with friends and family – who may even know of a job opening – will be a source of inspiration.
Tip 4: LEARNING WITHOUT EARNING
Finding the right volunteering opportunity can help you keep your skills relevant whilst giving something back to the community.
- Brushing up on your existing skills or training to learn new ones, can give you a real advantage when you start looking for work and will get you noticed by employers
- It may not be possible to secure a paid position immediately, but volunteering, retraining, or even securing work experience will all help bolster your CV and, more importantly, boost your confidence.
Tip 5: STAY IN THE LOOP
Keep as up to date as you can with what is happening in your industry, so you don’t feel out of your depth or out of touch.
- Read industry journals and newsletters, attend workshops and keep in touch with workplace changes and trends online to get to grips with what’s happening
- If you know people in your field, such as former colleagues or even your old boss, why not meet them for a coffee; they may well pass on invaluable advice and suggestions.
Tip 6: DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF
Although you may not feel confident after time away from the workplace, try to remember all the skills you have developed both at work and beyond.
- Don’t feel scared, or even guilty, about going back to work – it is perfectly possible to be a devoted mum AND a successful working woman
- Remember that as a busy mum, you have already been honing skills such as budgeting, time management and even negotiating (with your wilful toddler!).
Hughes adds: “I idolised my twins, but I was dying of boredom at home with them all day. I valued my time with my twins more and gave them more quality time when I had a break from them – my time at work with adult company and stimulation felt like the time off and relaxation, so I had far more energy and enthusiasm!”
There are a number of funding options available to help you return to work. Ask a Careers Adviser about Surestart or log onto www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents. You may also be entitled to free childcare; visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning to find out more.
Check out the video of Yvonne with top tips for mums who are returning to work on the Careers Advice Service media hub at: http://newmediaroom.careers-advice.org/