Thoughts on Being a Working Mum
Kids or career - have you asked yourself this question before you decided to start a family? Despite the progress in our society towards making the workplace more inclusive toward women and creating equal opportunities, there is still a strong consensus towards women not returning back to their jobs after having a baby.
Whether a woman decides that she wants to go back to her job or not is of course entirely up to the individual situations. Many women ask themselves if it is it even realistic to think that you can fully return back to your old job after having a baby. So many factors need to be considered such as finding a spot in a good daycare if the option of a family member or friend taking care of your little one doesn’t apply and working out the cost of childcare. With childcare in London being as high as up to £280 per day, potentially setting a family back more than £1000 per week, many women are asking themselves: What am I going back to work for?
In the UK, the government rolled out free childcare covering 30 hours per week for 390.000 families. The offer is set to save families around £5000 in daycare cost annually and is backed by an extra £1 billion per year through 2020. For information on eligibility and how to register, click here.
Free childcare sounds like a godsend but isn’t widely available, which sets the focus on the lack of flexibility in the workplace. After having baby Mila and thinking about going back to her job as an Interior Designer, MumShape founder Lisa had to ask herself: Do I want to commute one hour across London and back for work, then pick up my kid during rush hour from daycare that closes at 6 and charges me extra for every minute that I’m late? Working full time can be stressful enough, but adding such challenges didn’t make sense to her.
If you are unsure if you’d like to return to your previous job after maternity leave, consider these factors to help you decide:
Talk to other Mamas
Whether you ask close friends with kids or make use of technology and consult with your connections on apps such as Kidbo or Mush Mums (as previously mentioned in our blog post here), your network matters, so make sure you utilize it to help you with your decision.
Evaluate your own career goals
Have you ever dreamed of a career switch? Or do you have a specific role in mind that you would love to go for? Being away from work gives you the necessary distance to re-evaluate where you want your career to go. Invest downtime into doing research about roles and certain career paths to get you inspired. This will help you get clear on what you want and how you can achieve it.
Explore alternatives that work for you
Sometimes all it takes is to ask. Talk to your previous employer about working from home a few days per week or come up with a work scenario that would work for you. If you’d like to make a switch to working for yourself, being a freelancer might be the right option for you. Interested in expanding your knowledge? Take an online class and earn a certificate in a field that interests you and start building the skills needed to making a career change. Popular online courses are offered by Udemy, Coursera or Udacity.
Realizing that there are options available for you is often the first step to beginning to think about either an entirely new career or gathering the courage to ask for change.
The options are plentiful and with remote work becoming more popular, companies are realizing now more than ever that it is their responsibility to create a workplace that works for all different kinds of people with different backgrounds and expectations. Employees are an asset and we need workplaces that don’t single out mothers but instead include them and understand their needs.
There is no one size fits all approach to culture that affects our work. Everyone has different needs and expectations. Some mums would prefer to work from home, while others welcome the time spent at the office alongside their colleagues. It’s all about being more accommodating towards mothers, understanding their individuality and the huge potential that is lost when they are not included.
We’d love to see more initiatives such as The Mom Project. Founder Allison Robinson experienced firsthand how challenging it can be to find your way back into the working world after having her son. With The Mom Project, Allison created a service that works towards supporting women remain an active part in the workforce by connecting employers with women to match them with work opportunities. The program is currently only available in the US but we’re hoping to see similar developments across other parts of the world and are excited to see what’s yet to come.
Have you gone back to your previous job after maternity leave or have you even started your own business? We’d love to hear from you!