To be totally transparent, no, I haven’t figured this out completely and there is definitely room for improvement, but I have learned so much in the past 5 months that I have been back working and juggling being a first-time mum.
There is also no one size fits all approach and every person’s situation is completely unique to them. However, I do know there a hundreds of first-time mums about to return to the workplace following maternity leave and unclear about how their career stands.
I cannot stress enough how important communication with your manager is.
Being able to have straight conversations about how you would like your career to go before you go onto MAT leave, having regular check ins whilst off and then once you are back are vital. It is so important to address your perspective; do you want to return to work with real fire and determination to climb the career ladder? Or perhaps your priorities have shifted and you no longer want the promotions and progression opportunities and just want a steady job?
The impact of maternity leave on a woman’s career
There is a real stigma around women returning to work following maternity leave and the impact this has on their career. A study conducted by the National Childbirth Trust found evidence which suggests becoming a mother does affect a woman’s career, whether this be down to reducing working hours, going part-time or changing your job to fit around childcare.
But, the above doesn’t need to apply.
Finding a business that works for you and understands the importance of work/life balance is extremely important. When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately assumed my career was going to be impacted, so I began having honest and raw career conversations with my manager to show how motivated I was to continue on an upward trajectory, but equally, balance my new way of life and being a first-time mum.
Personally, I was so determined to continue progressing my career and I was really passionate about wanting to be able to do both. I completely understand doing both isn’t viable for everyone, but I knew that I wanted to do both; be a good mum AND have a solid career.
Fast forward 5 months post returning to the workplace and I have already received a promotion to Business Manager. I am so proud of myself for going against the stigma and being able to show that with hard work, determination and more importantly, a supportive manager, I am able to do both.
What are your career goals within the next 5-10 years?
Do you want to continue building a solid career?
Has your perspective changed since becoming a parent?
Is there anything your employer can do to help you do both/do you want to do both?
What is going to make you feel fulfilled?
Working out the above will make everything so much clearer.
It may be that you, like me, decide you want both. Why should society make us feel like we aren’t able to continue with our successful careers once you become a mother. I am more motivated than ever within my career! Yes, I work slightly reduced hours to work around my personal circumstances, but, when I am at work I work my hardest to ensure I am hitting my personal goals and also business goals wherever I can.
My go home message is to work out what you want and what will work personally for you.
I chose the route of both and it has been the best decision of my life. It can be tough, it is a juggle, but it is so rewarding and I am proud of my achievements in my career so far and looking forward to continue progressing and hitting more career goals.