When your maternity leave extends into a career break, it can lead to many rewarding years of being a full-time Mum. At some point, however, you may look at getting back into the world of work. Whether this is for financial necessity, personal self-fulfilment or a bit of both, the prospect of being a returning-to-work Mum can be quite daunting!
For a start, the thought of having to swap your everyday Mum’s uniform of jeans and other casual clothes for a professional wardrobe is enough to throw any woman into a panic! And then there’s the not-so-small matter of that yawning gap on your CV and the fact that you haven’t been to a job interview for more years than you care to remember.
The Internet is awash with motivational articles and great advice on what to do if you’re thinking of going back to work after a career break. But no one really tells you what NOT to do! So here are a few tips to stop the ‘going back to work’ process from becoming a hugely stressful experience:
Pitfalls To Avoid When You’re A Returning To Work Mum
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
It’s true that you’ve spent the last few years involved in activities that are not, perhaps, as mentally challenging as you might have been used to in your pre-children years. But this doesn’t mean you’re no longer a capable, intelligent and resourceful woman who would be an asset to any company. It’s natural for your self-confidence to have dipped during your career break, but never lose sight of everything you achieved before you became a stay-at-home Mum.
Motherhood will also have given you new skills you might not even realise! Organised a few children’s parties? That’s event management. Worked out how to make ends meet while on one salary? That’s financial management. Stopped squabbling siblings more times than you can count? Conflict resolution. You have a lot to offer – don’t sell yourself short.
Don’t Be Afraid To Reinvent Yourself
Becoming a mother is a life-changing experience, and you might find that when you start thinking about going back to work, you’re no longer interested in slotting back into your old industry. You may have discovered new interests and skills during your time at home with your children. Different things might now be important to you. Or perhaps long-dormant interests have risen to the surface. The multitude of areas to which being a Mum exposes you may well have opened your eyes to a whole new world of exciting opportunities, so don’t be afraid to try your hand at something completely different.
Don’t Rush Into Things
Launching yourself into the job-hunting game can be brutal, but it’s even worse if you do so before you’re completely sure of what kind of job you’re actually looking for. Spend time thinking about what it is you really want to do, and whether that aligns with your current strengths, experience and goals. Don’t be afraid to invest in a little self-discovery and awareness – any time spent doing so will pay huge dividends down the line.
Don’t Be Scared To Learn New Skills
Being a returning-to-work Mum isn’t easy and employers can be reluctant to take on someone without recent work experience. Time is also an unforgiving master and you may find your skills are a little rusty, out-of-date or even completely obsolete. Fortunately, there’s a host of respected adult learning institutions offering courses in pretty much anything you want to learn. Many of these are offered online, so you can do them in your own time and at your own pace. It’s a really great way to make sure your skills are current and that you’re as up to date as possible with any relevant developments that happened while you weren’t employed.
Don’t Get Caught Up In Others’ Expectations
It’s very easy to get caught in a people-pleasing trap. Your friends and family might expect you to go back into doing what you used to do because otherwise, isn’t that a huge waste of your education and training? And of course, if that’s what you also want, then it’s not a problem. However if it’s no longer where your interests lie, it’s important to focus on what you want to do, not on what others say you “should” do. Listen to your instincts and do something that makes you happy.
As a career and personal development coach, I specialise in career transition coaching. So if you’re a returning-to-work Mum looking for some guidance on working out what it is you really want, and how to make that happen, let’s set up a time to chat. You can book a free 30-minute phone consultation by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.