When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had everything planned out.
The pram was bought, the NCT sessions were booked, I had my birth plan, I had my hospital bag packed, there wasn’t anything I hadn’t thought of. Except my career.
Now don’t get me wrong - there were a few work things planned...
I knew I wanted to take around a year off and I had thought about coming back on four days a week, but I hadn’t given any thought about actually coming back. Would I feel confident? What would my career ambitions be? How would I maintain balance? What about mum guilt?
Here are three things I wish I’d known...
1) Keeping in touch days
I never did these at the time. I didn’t see the point. But they are there to help you touch base with what’s going on, which can help with your confidence when you return. Plan them wisely. Ask to go in on strategy days or plan a day catching up with colleagues.
2) Be kind to yourself
When I started back at work, my mum guilt was off the chart. But on top of that, I also had work guilt. I would be so upset leaving my baby in the morning, but also feel guilty when I had to leave work to pick her up. Would my colleagues think I wasn’t putting in the same amount of work as them because I had to leave at 5pm? I am kinder to myself now. I focus on the positives. My kids are developing social skills being at nursery and I do not compare the amount of time I spend at my desk to anyone else now.
3) Career ambitions
After I returned from maternity leave, my career unfortunately took a back step. I worked in a company where presentism was a thing and putting a meeting in at 5pm was not irregular. I couldn’t go to those meetings, and gradually felt my progression stagnating. Not all companies are like this, and it is possible to progress your career and have a family. You don’t always have to make do or accept things just because you have other responsibilities.
Alice Draper is a licensed career coach and maternity coach. Her back to work programme which includes a mixture of career and maternity coaching is designed to help you go back to work after maternity leave or a career break feeling confident and considering your career now you are a mother.
If you are interested in finding out more, get in contact to book a free 30-minute discovery call.