Decide on the right time to return: This is different for everyone and not always a ‘perfect’ time just like there is not always the ‘perfect’ time to have a baby!   Discuss with your partner what support they can offer, assess your financial needs and also emotionally how you feel about returning to work. There isn’t a magic time or solution that applies to everyone so you have to go with your own instinct and circumstances on this; don't let others judge you or bring you down!  

Manage Expectations: Start conversations with your current employer as early as you can around your intentions and what support you would like re flexi time etc. and make sure you have checked the company’s policy on this if they have it documented, you want to be prepared and not just ‘wing it’. 

Getting back into the work ‘mindset’:  Often after having some time out of the workforce we worry and fear that our skills and experience are no longer as relevant (and that others think we have ‘baby brain’). Keep connected with peers and colleagues as much as possible and try to have a few catch ups with your Manager and other people who value you when you are on maternity leave as they will make it a smoother transition and you will still feel like you know what is happening in the business.

Acknowledge your new parenting skills: We all know the juggle of caring for young babies/children and having a career is a mammoth job; getting out of the house some mornings can feel like you have run a marathon! Acknowledge the skills you have learnt as a parent and use them to your advantage, kids develop your people skills, your creative problem solving, your ability to multi-task, and your time management like no job I've ever had. These skills are always understood or acknowledged in the workplace, but cite them at interview or on your CV and you should approach every job with your head held high. (Positive reaffirmations)

Try different job hunting approaches: Don't job hunt purely online with job boards. Use different methods such as word of mouth, LinkedIn, keeping in touch with old colleagues and Managers, and contacting organisations directly where your skills and background is relevant on a speculative basis. Most importantly, keep at it as getting a job is a full time job in itself.

Figure out the right working pattern: You have to think creatively and be open to different support, i.e. child care, nanny, au pair etc. etc. Flexible working can look very different at various organisations, for example:

  • Compressed hours so five days in four
  • Delayed start or finish to allow you to pick up or drop off your children from school during term time
  • Project working only so you work full-time for a project and then take time off in lieu
  • Working from home
  • Job shares

Make sure flexibility works both ways: Be brave and ask for the flexibility that you need BUT make sure that it works both ways. Be prepared to give something more back to your employer when you can, and make sure you make a good business case for working flexibly, i.e. agree to review after three months and modify what you need too if not working.  

Questions to keep in mind throughout your job hunt:

  • What are the workplaces like that you're applying to – what is the culture around working parents?
  • How might this influence the experience of having another child while working there?
  • If you really want a job where the culture or perceptions around working parents isn't ideal, how can you demonstrate your commitment and help change some of those attitudes? What are you willing to compromise on?

You're not alone:

So many of us are working parents and the reality is, it still is typically that the ‘juggle’ of career and childcare falls onto the Mother’s shoulders. Don’t feel alone; use your friends, Mothers group, colleagues etc. to talk with about your challenges as guaranteed many others have experienced this same challenge. 

“A Happy Mother Is A Good Mother, And If Work Makes You Hum, Your Whole Family Sings Along” - Unknown