According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of mothers in the USA combine careers and childcare. Returning to work after having a baby is a kind of professional reset, where you consider not only your ambitions and goals but also the needs of your child.
The main task is to find the balance and strength to move on. This step is challenging for many moms preparing to replace routine household duties with the work environment. Our goal is to support you and alleviate concerns at the beginning of this new stage in your career. In this guide, we will help you develop a comfortable and seamless comeback strategy.
Researches for working moms
Returning to work from maternity leave is always accompanied by conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you strive to realize your potential in the profession. On the other hand, you are still afraid that even a short-term absence can turn into stress for your kids. Remember that you are not alone. Many women have already passed through such doubts. Research based on their experience can help you venture upon this new step.
- The Center for Workplace Mental Health has proven that work helps depressed women after childbirth to increase self-esteem through social support and financial stability.
- A study by New York’s Columbia University School of Social Work showed that babies do not suffer from maternal employment, and it does not have negative consequences for their cognitive or social development.
- The Sengerson Top US Blog reports that 47% of working mothers appreciate the chance to have a financial cushion in case of crises, unforeseen situations, or divorce. Besides, 75% of Americans support women’s aspirations to go beyond the traditional role of wife and mother and fulfill themselves as specialists.
Best advice for going back to work after maternity leave
The restarting of your career is always a step out of your comfort zone. During maternity leave, you got used to a specific daily routine and learned to adapt to your child’s schedule. But now you have to accept new terms of play and revise your life. Your success will depend on how well you can balance work responsibilities and childcare. To simplify your task, we have gathered a few useful recommendations.
#1 Reconnect with the team
If you are returning to the same company where you worked before childbirth, be ready to establish contact from scratch. Your superiors have new visions and goals, and your colleagues face new challenges and strategies. To test the waters, you should:
- Inquire about the current state of affairs in the company and clarify the current requirements for your position. It will help you understand what the employer expects of you and gauge your strength.
- Talk with colleagues and new members to get insider information. Thanks to this, you can find out the division of powers and your role in achieving common goals.
Perhaps after discussing these points, you will not find common ground. But it is better to break it down than to accept cooperation leading to mutual disappointment. Remember your career should not depend on one company. Therefore, if your old job is no longer a good fit, consider the option of finding a new job.
#2 Create your elevator pitch
The employer must clearly understand what level of workload you can handle and what tasks you can cover. Therefore, your elevator pitch should tell who you are, what job you are looking for, what you can offer, and what working conditions you are ready to accept at the moment.
You can apply this self-presentation directly at the interview or at any level of business networking. It provides comprehensive information about your current professional period and does not resemble requirements.
Thus, you just outline your boundaries and needs. And the employer, in turn, decides to accept or reject them. To avoid disappointment in the future, be prepared for both outcomes.
#3 Think through your schedule
Only you know for sure the regime, habits, and needs of your child including time needed for morning preparations, mealtime, vaccination calendar, the day-care schedule, and so on.
You should understand how all these activities can fit into your work schedule and whether they will interfere with your productivity. It is necessary to take an unbiased look at your abilities and choose the appropriate type of employment.
If you must breastfeed a baby 3-4 times a day or if your child is often sick, refrain from full-time work. Undoubtedly, employers can take your perspective. But you should not misuse their loyalty and take on more than you can handle at the moment. It always carries the risk of professional burnout and damages your reputation.
#4 Look for work near your home
The location of the office should not be your primary criterion when choosing a job. However, if there is a chance to unlock your potential within walking distance of a child, take it.
It will save you time in the case of emergencies, reduce your travel and lunch expenses, and help to control the work of the nanny if necessary. These factors contribute to inner harmony and allow you to focus on work.
#5 Start with a part-time or remote job
The jump from maternity leave to a 9 to 5 schedule is stressful for you and the baby. A part-time schedule can help you adapt to new conditions step by step.
By limiting your work schedule to 30 hours a week, you can delve into the workflow and master new skills without harming the family. Remote employment, in turn, enables you to work while in the presence of your child, during periods when they do not require attention, like when they are sleeping.
However, make sure that you are spending your free time on your work and not relaxing or applying self-care. Remember that work from home always requires self-organization and time management skills.
#6 Create a cover letter
When starting a new job after maternity leave, you need to establish yourself as a responsible worker and prove that your mood and personal circumstances will not affect your activities.
For this purpose, reinforce your resume with a cover letter when applying for a position. The former demonstrates your track record, while the latter contains additional information that can tip the balance in your favor. In your case, you should focus on the following points:
- Explain the reason for your career downtime
- Tell about the advanced professional skills you mastered before the decree
- Mention achievements from previous jobs
- Designate your motivation to get back on track
- Indicate the reasons for choosing the specific company
- Briefly describe how you plan to contribute to the common cause
- Prove that you can keep motherhood and direct duties apart
Eager to recommence a career after decree? An effective cover letter will be your first winning step!Get Cover Letter
#7 Choose a family-friendly company
Many companies honor family values. At the same time, not all employers exempt staff from business trips and overtime work for domestic reasons. Often, such concessions are exceptions that require subsequent completion or involve penal fines.
Your goal is to find a company where you do not need to be in the saddle upon the first request. This does not mean that your communication with the employer should begin with your requirements. It also does not mean that your motherhood should be above your responsibilities.
Fortunately, plenty of modern corporations and platforms understand the difficulties mothers face during a job search. Therefore, you can easily find lists of vacancies and employers who are open to such cooperation and offer friendly requirements and conditions.
#8 Do not seek indulgence
If you got a job after a transparent elevator pitch, cover letter, and interview, the employer is ready to accept your comfortable schedule and provide you with the necessary working conditions.
You have likely proved yourself as a qualified specialist who makes every effort to move forward. This is an excellent reputation that should not be destroyed by constant requests for time off and excuses.
Even the most patient and loyal employer will not put up with constant violations and a bunch of unfinished tasks. Besides, excessive indulgence can negatively affect the corporate climate and your relationships with colleagues, which is not the best start to a new career stage.
This does not mean that you should undermine the interests of your child. Instead, verify your schedule once again and put more focus on the following two tips.
#9 Find your “relief pilot”
Even if you manage to balance your schedule between your career and your child, you are not immune to emergency cases. Imagine the temperature of your kid has jumped at the height of your working day. In this case, you need to request a temporary absence then go back to work after baby care. These roller coasters will negatively affect both the child and your performance. To avoid it, solicit the support of a close friend, relative, or a nanny. Thus, you will have someone to rely on.
#10 Do a trial run
After you have your schedule set and have selected a childcare assistant, test how this mechanism works under real-life conditions. For this purpose, limit your participation in childcare for several days.
If you decide that your work will take six hours a day from 10 to 4, start to adhere to this frame in advance. Spend this time preparing for a new position or just have some tea while watching your favorite TV series.
The main thing is not to sit next to the child and not check on their well-being every few minutes.This test will help you avoid nasty surprises on your first day at work and establish trust with the person who cares for the child in your absence.
#11 Keep in touch with other working parents
In the early days, it may seem that no one understands the difficulties that you are facing. Try to get rid of these thoughts. Explore the new corporate environment and look for people who also combine careers with parenting. It will allow you to share experiences, adopt best practices, and expand networking.
You can create a general chat or even a small community of parents within the company. If you have not found like-minded colleagues, turn to thematic forums or groups. Remember, problems can be perceived more easily when you are not alone in confronting them.
#12 Set attainable goals
Perhaps you had reached a certain level in your career before the decree. Now you will have to be prepared to update and improve your knowledge and skills before getting back on track.
Therefore, do not set your sights on leadership positions right after you come back. First, you need time to get caught up. And second, you will need to learn how to control your new life and new schedule. So do not rush to take responsibility for subordinates.
Instead, return to work gradually and give yourself time to delve into all the intricacies of the work process. This tactic will allow you to get in professional shape more quickly.
#13 Celebrate your small victories
There is a chance that you will contribute to an important task for the company in the first days after your maternity leave. But you should not focus on significant accomplishments or scold yourself in case of their absence.
This strategy often leads to frustration and causes you to doubt your abilities. Praise yourself every time you manage to complete a task on time, get enough sleep before an important meeting, and so on.
In the first days back at work after maternity leave, it may seem to you that everything goes wrong, and your colleagues have left you far behind. This period is inevitable regardless of whether you returned to your previous company, found a new job, or even changed your career.
But do not be hard on yourself. You will soon adapt to the new pace of life, working with your childcare assistants like a well-oiled machine, and as a result, your career will rapidly gain momentum.
In hard times, always remind yourself what motivated you to take this step. Financial stability, professional self-realization, and the possibility of development are all strong motives to inspire you to sacrifice your daily habits for the sake of new goals.
If destructive thoughts start to occur, remind yourself that you have made too much effort to give up now. Follow our tips and stay on track!
This article first appeared on Fee.com.