Being a new mother is a life-changing experience and a full-time job. And while nobody denies that new moms have their plates full, and the entire family dynamic gets a complete makeover, few have found the perfect balance between having a child and having a career.
If you entertain the thought of going back to work or hunting for a new job after you took maternity leave, you may find yourself in a world of trouble because each woman has to deal with her own challenges and one size never fits all so here are some ways to successfully return to work after maternity leave.
I remember back to the glorious days of being home with my sweet baby after he was born. I love to work but I never imagined that I would enjoy staying at home alone everyday with my baby. Due to a few health concerns, I spent most of those days and weeks alone only leaving the house to take a walk with the dog and the stroller. I stayed home for about 14 weeks. 12 weeks due to unpaid FMLA and 2 weeks of my saved sick days due to my son arriving a little too early. In the United States, this is considered excellent for a working woman. I knew that my time home with him was precious and was going to be unpaid, so my husband and I were able to save ahead some to make sure we could continue to pay all the bills that we needed to while I was off.
Close to the time of going back to work, I had to figure out my options for going back to work. As much as I loved being at home, we needed me to go back to work to help support our family. Without both of our parents being close to help, we found an amazing in-home daycare option that loved my child as much as we did. She sent pictures, loved on him as much as I would have and gave me not only physically support with him, but emotional support for me to help me bridge the gap of him being apart from me during the day.
Going back to work was the best decision for me. My son was being loved on during the day and I was able to be at my work and felt like having a baby gave me some new skills that I didn’t have before. If you are dreading the decision or are simply trying to figure out the best thing to do, try this “emotionless” approach to help you make a better decision…because right now as you hold your sweet little one, emotions will lead any decision that you make.
How to Successfully Return to Work after Maternity Leave
This may sound cold and cynical, but after staying home with the baby, getting back into your working game may be frightening on so many levels. You may start to think… What if you lost your skills along the way? What if the working environment will frown upon you leaving early? And what if the little one at home will be affected by your leave and develop separation anxiety or an attachment disorder?
Such questions can tear you apart and can make the decision ten times harder and in truth, there is no right time to go back to work after you had the baby despite what people may say. It is difficult to take the emotion out of the decision so to help you, use this method to think about your decision to return to work in terms of a four step process for whether or not implement a new business project. It is not a perfect decision making tool, but it will give you a chance to analytically review what you need to do for your family. You just have to think in 4 terms: Emotion, Finance, Logistics & Product.
You won’t really know how you will feel being away from your baby until you are, and that is perfectly fine. Thoroughly analyze how you will feel letting the child in the hands of someone else. You should also analyze how you will feel if you continue to stay at home instead of pursuing your career. A pros and cons list may seem obsolete, but it will give you a clear idea of what is important to you emotionally. Do you trust your plan in place? Will you have the emotional connection that you still need if you go back to work?
Can you afford to stay home? Can you find a job flexible enough to ensure you a comfortable income without keeping you away from your baby from here on end? How much money do you really need to make? What type of job do you really need? What is available out there for new moms? Are there other alternatives to consider? Is it enough to take a part-time job and share your opinion for good money for instance, or do you need a full-time job to cover all expenses?
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Who is going to take care of the little one while you are at work? Can you afford/trust a sitter given the budget you envisioned and the emotional burden you have to deal with? Can you find a job that allows you flexible schedules or encourages new mothers to get back into their game? Will you have the help that you need for others to pick up your baby if needbe?
In this case, the product is you and your way of selling yourself to the marketplace. One tip to consider is to capitalize on your skills as a mother and transfer them to a new working environment. You can certainly rock multitasking, gained a stellar attention to detail, social skills, and time management skills and so on. Add compassion, patience, tolerance, understanding and creativity in problem-solving and you can build a rock-solid resume to hunt for the job you decide you want. In our day and time, employers value transferable skills even more than technical ones.
Can You Implement “Project You”?
As a piece of advice, try to get this decision through a SWOT analysis – just like you’d do if you were to implement a new project at the workplace. Better yet, take each emotional, financial and logistical aspect of your decision through a SWOT analysis. Analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will break everything down in the smallest of details and help you look at things from a different perspective.
If the results point towards you going back to work, then it is time to put the papers aside and get some action going. Remember, in life as in business, a failure is not a catastrophe, and a setback is an opportunity to change perspective. You can only make the best decision for your family and should never feel guilty for what works for you.
Let me know in the comments what you think!
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