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Working mums gives some tips on what they found most difficult after they had children and had to return to work.
What was your biggest fear about becoming a working mum? For many it is the first weeks back and imagining how they will cope; for others it is concerns about career progression and employment rights. Here we ask some working mums what they found hardest and for some advice based on their own experiences.
For many of our readers the birth itself was the major challenge they focused on before going on maternity leave. Michelle Moore, whose daughter is around seven months old, said it seemed almost impossible to plan for the birth. “A friend of mine gave me a free hypnosis session and a free CD to bring home so I could listen to it in the weeks leading up to my birth. Unfortunately, I had to be induced but decided to go with the flow and not make any hard and fast plans about what drugs I wanted,” she says.
“I secretly desired a water birth, but was too lazy to plan anything. When I finally went into labour the only room available was a room with a birthing pool which was a fantastic experience and I would recommend it. I got through my labour because my partner was with me the whole time and the midwives around me were amazing and I managed to do it with just gas and air.”
While the birth was scary, Michelle says another big fear was about returning to work and leaving her little girl.
For Emma Frary, who has a son of around 12 months, isolation was the major fear. She has recently moved back from living abroad to be nearer family and friends to counter that fear. “It definitely wasn’t easy, but we felt that because it was so important, it was a necessity,” she says.
Maria Hicks has two boys aged five and a year and a half so she has already faced going back to work. She advises that the the thought of going back is much worse than actually going back.
She says if you get into a routine with your children, husband and childcare provider and stick to it, every day it helps. Another tip is to get in touch with your employer as soon as possible if you want to return part time so you enable the organisation time to try and accommodate your request. She adds: “Remember that working mums are setting a great example for their children to prove that women can be successful and financially independent.”
One mum, a legal assistant with over 12 years’ experience and mum of a nearly one year old, warns that mums need to be aware of their rights when they return to work. She was working full time before she returned to work and now works 25 hours a week. She says: “My tip would be for mums to be or mums about to return to work to make sure they are clued up on what their rights are specifically about returning to their old job.”
She was told her previous position was no longer available when she returned to work and given an alternative job with the same job title but completely different work which she had no experience of. “It is a very disappointing and distressing experience. I don’t feel this is a like for like job. There were redundancies whilst I was on maternity leave, but this wasn’t communicated or offered to me. I am in the process of trying to find out what my rights are and who to obtain some advice from about this so I can raise it formally with my firm. I am not in a position to leave as my firm offered a very good maternity pay package and I would have to repay a large sum of money back to them which I am not in a position to do.”
She adds that most women don’t think about these kinds of things when they are on maternity leave so she thinks it is important to make them aware of what could happen and how they can avoid or resolve situations like these.