Becoming a parent is most certainly one of life’s most transformative experiences. The joy that comes with welcoming a new life into the world is unparalleled. However, as many new mothers find, returning to work after maternity leave can be a complex and challenging process. As I have done this twice, I wanted to share some thoughts on the hurdles and challenges, offering some insight and tips on how to navigate this (full disclosure – I am by no means an expert, I am continuously adapting and seeking tips from other parents but wanted to share my experience).
Emotional Struggles: Returning to work after maternity leave is often accompanied by a rollercoaster of emotions. The bond formed during maternity leave makes it emotionally challenging to leave the baby in someone else’s care. Guilt, anxiety, and even a sense of loss can be overwhelming, requiring a delicate balance between personal and professional well-being.
Tip: Establishing a support system, and robust childcare arrangements can help manage these emotions. Agreed communication with the caregiver can provide reassurance while you concentrate at work and communicating these needs and even feelings with your manager can help make you feel safer and more supported.
Work-Life Integration: Juggling the demands of a career and the responsibility of parenthood is an ongoing struggle. The pressure to perform at work whilst ensuring the well-being of a child/ children can be physically and mentally exhausting. Finding the right balance between professional and personal life becomes crucial.
Tip: Negotiating flexible work hours or remote work options can significantly alleviate this challenge. Open communication with employers about realistic expectations can help create a more supportive work environment.
Career Progression Concerns: Many women worry about the impact that maternity leave may have on their careers. The fear of being overlooked for promotions or missing out on important opportunities can be a significant source of concern.
Tip: Stay connected with your professional network during maternity leave, attend industry events if possible and utilise keeping in touch days if this works around your family commitments. Also, upon return do ensure that you make your professional and aspirations goals known so that your employers have an awareness.
Breastfeeding and Pumping Challenges: For mothers who choose to breastfeed, finding time and a suitable space for pumping at work can be a logistical challenge.
Tip: Communicate openly with your employer about your needs for pumping breaks and identify a comfortable and private space for this purpose.
Judgment and Stereotypes: Unfortunately, societal stereotypes and judgments about a mother’s commitment to her career persist. Some colleagues or employers may have outdated beliefs about a mother’s ability to balance work and family responsibilities.
Tip: Challenge stereotypes through your actions and achievements. Let your work speak for itself, and don’t be afraid to communicate your dedication to your career and family. If you do feel comfortable or it’s your second return-ity it could be a good idea to host a shared learning for your colleagues, talking about your experience and what’s been helpful before.
Have you recently returned back to work? Do you have any other tips that have worked for you?
I hope the above have been useful, you can read more of our blog posts here. if you would like to discuss career options with us, please get in contact on 020 3006 2787 or you can email me at [email protected]