Whether you’re currently on maternity leave or are spending some time as a stay-at-home mom the chances are you’ve thought about the world of work at least once in the last few weeks or months. You may have done so out of financial necessity, or because you desperately miss your job and the thought of catching up with other adults around the water cooler. However, nothing will prepare you for the many emotional decisions you’re about to make. Please, take it from someone who has been there; there is no right or wrong answer. There are plenty of considerations to make, though…
Consider what’s best for everyone
Are you thinking about returning to work for financial reasons, or because you’re keen to get back to doing something you love? Could you afford to stay at home? What childcare arrangements will you need to make? The decision to go back to work has so many financial, logistical, and even emotional considerations. Make sure that you’re doing what’s best for everyone – including you, momma. We’re already doing one of the hardest jobs imaginable; don’t push yourself to get anything more done than you absolutely have to.
Think about working from home
There are so many options open to working moms these days, including working from home. Many moms, myself included, have discovered the freedom and flexibility that comes with returning to work in such a way. Would your existing position allow you to work from home, even one day a week? Could you offer your services as a freelancer or consultant in your field of expertise? Have you thought about setting up a small retail business, or joining forces with other mumpreneurs? Working from home gives moms more balance, but it isn’t for everyone.
We moms are used to juggling so many balls all at once but returning to work is going to add several more. Have you thought about childcare, and where your child will be at any given time? What will your new budget look like, and how are you going to enforce it? How much time will you have for chores, or simply looking after yourself? Before you go back to work sit down and plan your time, money, childcare arrangements and ‘me time’. You may not have the luxury of getting organized once you’ve made that transition, and it really does pay to have everything ready beforehand.
Go back to school
Are you walking straight back into an existing role or seeking to do something more fulfilling? While it’s tempting to find a job, any job, in order to earn an income it’s also worth thinking about your longer-term goals and happiness. Have you thought about going back to school in order to further your education, to learn a new skill and improve your career prospects? Gaining an associate degree online could just help you to grab the position you’ve always dreamed of or help you to secure a promotion in your current workplace. What’s more, you’ll be able to fit your studies around your existing career and home life. Most online schools and colleges offer a diverse list of associate degree options, so do some research and see what will work best for you and your family
Embrace your new mommy skills
You may feel as though you’ve been away from the world of work for a long time, but you’ve actually been topping up your skillset the entire time you’ve been at home with the kids. Why not put a few of those skills to good use? As a mom, I discovered I’d become a more empathetic listener and a better communicator, and my organizational skills have improved, too! Well, they have to. Moms need to be managers, negotiators, delegators and timekeepers, as well as the occasional referee. Oh, and you’ll also be so much better at multitasking.
Take things one day at a time
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a stay-at-home mommy, making any massive changes to your home and lifestyle is going to be hard. Don’t push yourself to succeed too quickly or ask too much of yourself during those first days and weeks. If you’re returning to a workplace do so gradually, perhaps part-time or as part of a job share to begin with. Would your employer accept reduced hours? You might even find going back to work midweek a lifesaver, as your first days of work will be followed by a weekend relatively quickly. Remember that your family comes first and that leaving time for yourself is so, so important. Everything else can wait while you figure out the balance.
Speak to other working moms
Reach out to your contemporaries, moms! I cannot stress the importance enough of hearing all perspectives before making any big decisions. If you’ve friends who are working moms listen to their ups and downs and consider how you’d do things differently. Be inspired by the working moms around you, and remember, we’re here to empower one another not tear each other down. Find online forums for moms, and air your concerns there. You’d be surprised what a few reassuring words from those in your position could achieve.
Above all, don’t beat yourself up about your decision – whatever that might be. Mom guilt is real, people. As a mom you’re perhaps so used to putting other, smaller people first that it can be difficult to make any decisions that put you in the front and center. Remember that your family cannot function unless you’re looking after your own needs, too. I found that simple things, such as buying a new working wardrobe or having my hair done, really helped to soothe the situation, and let me know that I was doing okay after all. You’re doing a wonderful job, but now it’s time to tackle a new challenge.