How to Return to Work as a Mum in 2020

How to Return to Work as a Mum in 2020

Whether you want to be a career mom because you’re the financial breadwinner or because you simply feel more fulfilled working outside of the home, your reason matters because it matters to you. While you might find yourself justifying why you want to work to others, as long as you are proud of your decision, ultimately that is what really does matter. 

If you’ve been out of work for a few years as you’ve been navigating parenthood, you might feel like you’re not sure where to even begin. Take a deep breath. Then, take into consideration some of these tips before diving back into the workforce. 

Remote work has changed things

If you’re intending to go back to work with the option of working remotely, as much of the world is right now, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, please know that working from home is not how you might imagine it, as discussed in this blog. You aren’t going to suddenly be able to work 8 hours, exercise, cook all your meals, and still make time to have other hobbies unless you currently already do. All that is to say that you have to carve time out for those things whether you work as a full-time mum, work remotely, or have a traditional non-remote position. 

Second, you’re going to need to figure out how to stay organized, which doesn’t sound that hard, but when you work from home you have a variety of ways to become distracted. Making sure that your work area is work only will eliminate some of those distractions. 

In the same vein, you’ll want to let your kids know that when you’re in your work area to wait on questions. Obviously, if you are working from home, you’ll need to decide on what childcare works best for your schedule. Don’t think that working remotely means you’ll be attentive to your kids at the same time. 

Next, set your boundaries early to reduce the chance of becoming burnt out or overworking. It’s easy to say, “Just five more minutes,” when you’re sitting at home and suddenly find that you’ve worked hours more than you should have. 

Remote work prior to 2020 often meant that many people would work in an office, and some would work remotely part of the week. Because of this, video conference calls were used sparingly. Today, though, nearly every meeting held is done via video conferencing. It can honestly be overwhelming, especially when the internet breaks down, or people begin talking over each other. To make it as smooth as possible, here’s a great video conferencing solution comparison. This can help you decide which solution might work best for you if the company you’re hired for does not have a specific preference. 

Balancing work and life as a mum

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If you’re ready to get back into the workforce after having stayed home with your children for some time, reach out to some of your friends who seem to juggle their work-life with their home life well. Asking for advice might answer questions you did not know that you had. If your circle of friends is mostly comprised of women who have not returned back to work after having their babies, don’t dismay. You can still find advice from parents that were in your shoes recently via things like social media. Facebook has a multitude of niche groups, some of which are working moms looking to share their advice and to encourage you to get back into the workforce. 

Next, if you’re raising your children with a partner or spouse, you’ll need to have some serious conversations about expectations. If you typically make dinner, you may want your spouse to start volunteering time towards cooking on weekdays. Your time is valuable, but you will simply need to break up chores evenly so that you can each make sure that your work and home life is balanced. 

Decide what you’re passionate about

If possible, choose a career that brings you joy. It sounds loaded, but just spend a minute to think about it. Do you want to trade your current lifestyle for a job that does not provide something fulfilling? What are you giving up by just finding a career you know you can accomplish but that won’t necessarily be something you enjoy doing? Just going back to the career that you had before children might be easier than finding something new, but if you did not like what you were doing then, you’re not going to like it now. It seems simple, but one thing that humans are great at is convincing ourselves that something was better than we recall. Don’t persuade yourself that a job you hated is a position you’re comfortable returning to. 

Below are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself when you’re beginning to decide what you’d like to do for work:

  • Will I need to do this long-term or is it potentially short-term while I find another position?
  • Should the position I’m looking for be part-time or full-time work?
  • Is my schedule less flexible than it was when I left the workforce? What happens if my child needs to have me watch them last minute due to a childcare emergency? 
  • What benefits are important to me? Would I rather have shorter hours, or more paid vacation time? 

If you’re not sure what you want to do, it’s time to figure it out.  Look at your skills, and contemplate the ways you could put them to use. You’ll also want to have a firm idea of how much you expect to make and investigate what various careers typically pay. Once you’ve decided on the type of career you’d like to look into, it’s time to get down to business. 

It’s time for that job search

First, armed with a list of things you’d be interested in doing, create a job search plan. This will prevent you from becoming disheartened since you’ll have a specific schedule and plan to find the perfect position. 

For your job plan, you’ll want to make it as specific as possible so you can easily check off each item. Your job plan might include some of the following items:

  • Scheduling your goals on your calendar including networking dates
  • Reaching out to old coworkers or bosses to ask for reference letters
  • Revising your social media pages for a more professional appearance, and update your LinkedIn. Many employers will browse to see if there’s anything inflammatory. Make your Facebook and Instagram profiles private.
    • If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, set one up.
  • Updating your old resume with any recent volunteering or acquired skills
  • Creating a cover letter base that you can build on for specific positions you apply for. Keep in mind you don’t need to be overly explicit with why there is a gap in your employment; a one-line sentence is sufficient. 
  • Create a job search from online options. There’s been a boom of job search services available in the last several years. It’s likely you can find one that is pertinent to your niche profession. 

Landing that job

Luckily, interviews haven’t changed much at all over the past several decades. Future employers expect you to be nervous but do your best. Professionalism and a good sense of humor go a long way. 

If you haven’t had a professional interview in the past five years or so, you may want to consider hiring a professional coach to help smooth out some of your anxieties. If you’re not willing or able to pay the big bucks for professional coaching, consider sitting down with a friend or your spouse to go through a fake interview process. 

Take yourself seriously, and put that self-doubt away. It has no place in your life right now. Imposter syndrome? Put idea to rest! Check out these 20 tips for a great interview. That way, when the time comes for the real thing, you’ll ace that interview. 

Be honest if your interviewer inquires why you’ve taken some time off, but keep it short and sweet. A great answer is something like, “I’ve stayed at home to raise children, and during that time I’ve really strengthened my communication skills and patience.” A follow-up question is likely to pertain to why you’re seeking employment now, so make sure you’ve prepared an answer for that so the interviewer is focused on your skills and talents, not your whole life story. 

Resetting expectations

When you do return back to work, don’t assume that you’re going to jump right back in without a few hiccups.You don’t need to be a rockstar right away. That first 9-to-5 week is destined to be exhausting, especially since you’ll be going home to race your kids around the house. Transitioning back into the workforce is tough when you’ve been at home for a while, even if it’s as little as a year or two. Remember that your employer doesn’t expect you to be a star from day one. When you need guidance, ask for it. 

If you’re suffering from self-doubt or imposter syndrome, you’re not alone. Millions of individuals go through that daily. However, remind yourself of something: you’re raising another person. If you can manage a kid, you can manage a job. You’ve got this.

Kate Dyson

Kate is the Founder of The Motherload, the 'owner' of one husband, two daughters, two cats and one rabbit. She loves wine, loathes exercise and fervently believes in the power of women supporting women. Find me on instagram: @themotherloadhq

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