It can be daunting returning to the workplace after maternity leave. You now have to balance your work expectations with the responsibility of raising a child. That’s where Rebekah Fraser comes in as a Back to Work Coach. It’s her passion to support mums to successfully navigate their transitions back to work. She explains the common mistakes mums make when returning to work.
Undervaluing yourself. So many mums fail to recognise their value in the job market and don’t appreciate the skills they’ve developed as a consequence of becoming a mum.
Many women work faster, smarter and more efficiently after having children. There’s nothing like having a focused window of opportunity to get something done. Many mums also do not aim high enough with respect to the roles and responsibilities they’re capable of. Aim higher, ask for what you really want and deserve, whether it is a pay rise or flexible hours.
Doing it alone. Most mums have been the main caregiver and often this trend continues when they go back to work. Just because you’ve been the one to take responsibility for everything child-related in the past, doesn’t mean that others can’t start sharing this second shift. Look at all the tasks that need to be done in your home and discuss ownership for these with your partner, older children and family. Be prepared to give autonomy to others and share the load.
Wanting everything done your way. A lot of the mums want their partners to help more around the house but they don’t trust them to do the jobs ‘right’, so they fail to delegate. Domestic to-do lists never end, so unless you’re prepared to let something go, you’ll never free yourself of the ‘life-go-round’. Know where you want to spend your time and prioritise those things, delegate the rest to your partner and trust they’ll get these done - even if it isn’t the way you would do it!
Feeling guilty. Many mums suffer from ‘mummy-guilt’.Mums who stay home to care for their children feel guilty about not pursuing their professional goals, while mums who go back to work full-time feel guilty about missing out on time with their children. Then there are the mums who work part-time and feel guilty for not doing either job to the best of their ability. Often this guilt is a result of mums feeling judged and dictated to by family, cultural and societal expectations. Clarify what your family values are and stand firm in your decisions!
Expecting to view the world the same way you did before. For many of us, welcoming a child into our lives brings a massive amount of adjustment because values, priorities and feelings change. What felt important before can seem much less important now you have a child.
Additionally, things that you took for granted before, such as the freedom to determine how you used your time, maybe mourned. Stop comparing yourself to who you were pre-children and take the time to understand and accept where you are at now.
Not looking after yourself. All too often mums get stuck in the habit of prioritising everybody else’s needs ahead of their own and run themselves ragged, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s not selfish to make sure you’re in good shape to be able to give back to your family, your friends and your job – it’s essential!
Think about what you like doing, identify the things which fill your cup and energise you and schedule time to do these. These are often the things which bring joy and satisfaction to life and are the things which will increase your resilience and allow you to offer your best self to others.
Expecting a quick transition. Finishing maternity leave or starting a new job after becoming a parent often brings with it feelings of anxiety and stress. Mums often worry that they won’t manage or cope.There are many things to think about, such as your work conditions, the right childcare option and new family routines. Identify the challenges and work out a plan. This will help you understand what is involved in the transition and allow you to plan for it to happen as smoothly as possible.
The Back to Work Coach can offer one-on-one and group coaching programmes tailored to address the specific needs of mums returning to work. Visit: thebacktoworkcoach.com