This post is sponsored by Power of the Parent , written by their inspiring Founder and Coach Charlotte (who also happens to be a fellow busy Mama too!) Read her top tips on how to tackle your fears head on and feel more confident as you return to work after maternity leave.
Common fears for returning parents…
You’ve just had a significant* (insert your own number here) amount of time away from your usual place of work. Deadlines driven by project plans, company politics and predominantly adult interaction, have been swapped for routines driven by a tiny human. All whilst keeping one eye constantly on the nappy supply, and figuring out which baby groups are going to be the most welcoming. One thing is consistent when it comes to maternity, adoption or shared parental leave (SPL). Everybody has a different experience, and that return to work is met with a heap of varied emotions.
Despite all of these different experiences, there are some common fears we face when waving off our life projects and heading to the grown-up world of paid employment again. They can feel huge, stifling and mega hurdles to jump over – but they don’t need to stay that way. Here they are along with some tips to combat them…
I won’t know how to do my job anymore..
Given the length of time we take for parental leave and the pace of change in most workplaces, this could feel like a very real worry. Fear not, we’ve got you covered! Ask your employer (or specifically your line manager) to prep some info on what’s changed while you’ve been away. Be specific – are there new team members, structures, processes or systems you need training on? Then ask that this gets put into a training plan for you. Or, meet and greets go into your diary with the new faces! Some line managers will be really proactive with this, but if you’re in doubt, don’t wait. Grab your needs and put them straight in front of your employer. After all, they want you to feel up to speed and engaged don’t they?!
I’m not going to be able to fit everything in..
Having a few plans and trying different routines in the beginning will help. You don’t have to have it all nailed by the end of week one. Work, kids, life in general – all shift around at times. But holding on to what is important, and what energises you, will steer you forward. Use these prompts as a starter:
- Write down your regular weekly tasks that will keep you afloat. They will look different for everyone. Have everything from personal care, to drop off and pick up routines, to the food shop on there.
- Then figure out your boundaries in relation to them all. So for example, if you’re usually found in the supermarket ticking off your shopping list, but you know that takes double the time of an online shop. Do you want to switch the way you get your bread and milk? If you have a partner at home, how many bath and bedtimes can you handover? If exercise is something that’s a necessity for you, what are the minimum number of times you’re going to want to stick your trainers on?
- Then it’s time to align your time with your needs. Doing it visually can be really powerful and actually plotting the times in a diary or planner. Efficiencies are everywhere – maybe your exercise might become part of your commute or it’s time to relax your expectations on keeping your house dust free all the time.
My boundaries / working pattern will stop me achieving..
Now this is a big one. I want to start by saying there are some scary numbers out there about discrimination, the gender pay gap and women reaching senior positions. Coupled with all the anecdotes we hear, it’s a hard narrative to shake. However, the power is your hands when it comes to YOUR experience. I’m not denying there are links between working flexibly and lack of opportunities right now, but that’s about employers not your capability or potential. The number of hours you work doesn’t determine your ability and desire for success. Boundaries come with a pretty limiting connotation as well, but here’s an alternative take for you…
- Boundaries aren’t there to limit you. They are there to help you be happy, to be the best possible version of you and to keep you focussed on your strengths.
- Working flexibly / part time / compressed hours / *insert your own version here* / doesn’t mean you’re not able to achieve success. How you achieve it may change, but success is what you define it as.
- Development comes in all shapes and sizes. You’ve just had one of the biggest learning experiences of your life as you’ve got your head around parenting. A good dose of reflection about all the incredible skills you’ve acquired, and continued to develop, while you’ve been away from the workplace.
Fears are as real as you let them be..
They can limit you, they can impede your mindset and get so deep routed they build barriers. You don’t have to let them though. You do you. Face into the fears and tell them (out loud if you want) why they’re wrong. Why you’re stronger than them and how you’re going to take them on. Here’s to lots of strong returns!
If you’re due to face the daunting task of going back to work at some point in the future (or perhaps you’re already there but struggling to get to grips with ‘the new way’) and you’re wanting to run away and hide. You can reach Charlotte here to help make sense of it all and nail your return together, with confidence. You’ve got this Mamas!
*For more helpful tips from Charlotte, you can also read her other articles she has kindly written for Modern Mumology here.