maternity leave

Bringing a small person into the world is life-changing! There’s getting used to interrupted sleep, a reduction in your social life, carving out your new role as a mum, and the small matter of keeping said small person happy and well-fed! It’s one of the most challenging jobs we’ll ever do but also one of the most rewarding.

Colleagues without children may view maternity leave as a bit of a ‘holiday’ or a walk in the park. But as well as getting used to the things I’ve just mentioned, there’s usually some serious soul-searching when you step back from your career for a few months.

You may suddenly have a completely different outlook on life and start to question whether you should return to your job after your maternity leave is over.

Or it may be practical considerations which are forcing you to look at what comes next. For example, the cost of childcare, the proximity of family support, whether flexible working arrangements are possible, or the temptation to become your own boss.

In this blog, I thought it would be helpful to look at what your options are before you start making any decisions.

What are my options?

1. Return to work full-time

It may seem incredibly daunting to work full-time and care for a small child once you come home from a long day at work. However, this is the preferred or only option for some, and you CAN make it work.

I think the key to success is accepting that life isn’t going to be perfect, and all you can do is your best. Sit down with your partner to work out and agree on how to make your new arrangements fair for both of you. Too often, most familial tasks fall to mum to pick up, and we certainly need to redress the balance!

2. Return and negotiate a new working pattern

Did you know all employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, not just those with parental or caring responsibilities

If you decide this is the route you’d prefer to go down, you could request flexible start/finish times, to reduce your working hours or negotiate a flexible working location. For example, working from home some or all the time. Perhaps there’s an option to job share, allowing you to condense your working hours and achieve a comfortable work-life balance.

Unfortunately, maternity discrimination and disadvantage are real and prevalent in some companies. So, I’ve included some links below that will help you to understand your rights and what you can do if your request for flexible working is denied.

maternity leave

3. Find a new job

You may have been ready for a fresh start before you started your maternity leave. If so, you could get your CV polished up and apply for new roles. Most job websites have comprehensive filter options so you can quickly narrow down job vacancies that fit your search criteria, such as part-time or remote working roles.

Nowadays, you even get websites/platforms that are dedicated to flexible working jobs only, such as That Works For Me, who I am a ‘Job Search’ coach for!

For more advice on starting a new job, please read my blog on finding the ideal job after a career break.

4. Start a business

Is it time for another new baby… a business of your own?

Here are a few examples of how you could go it alone and become your own boss:

  • Buy a franchise to run a successful business in your area
  • Find a friend or family member to become business partners with and share the risk of a new business venture.
  • Use your skills and experiences to freelance or take on contract work
  • Move into consultancy work
  • Supplement a part-time salary with a revenue-generating hobby such as selling gifts

5. Retrain

Have you always dreamed of pursuing your childhood ambitions? The arrival of children naturally makes us reflect on our own childhoods and our early aspirations. If you feel retraining is the best route, there are plenty of remote learning options to help you fit studying around your young family.

I recently wrote a blog on alternatives to going to university, which I think you’ll also find helpful if you’re looking at retraining or moving into a different field.

How do I make the right decision?

It’s hard to know how life will pan out and what you may or may not regret about your decisions following maternity leave. Becoming a parent is one of the biggest things that will ever happen to us, so it’s natural to feel scared, nervous, and unsure.

Do your research

Talk to friends, family, and co-workers you feel close to about their experiences of becoming a parent and progressing or changing their career path.

Do some soul searching

Think about:

  • What will work with my new situation?
  • What do I enjoy?
  • What don’t I enjoy?
  • What can I afford to do in the short term?
  • What are my long-term goals?

You might not have all the answers to these questions just yet, but at least by asking them, you may get a bit of clarity which will help you make the best decision in the short term.

Would you like to find out more about your options after maternity leave?

Contact me to arrange a free discovery call to find out how I can help you.

It would also be great to connect with you on LinkedIn and Facebook!