Leadership expert and founder of The Successful Leaders' Collective Rebecca Ann shares her top tips for women looking to get their careers back on track after maternity leave.
Returning to work after maternity leave is a significant transition for women. As a leadership and careers expert, here are my top 5 tips to help make the process smoother and more manageable:
1. Review what you actually want.
Be honest with yourself about what it is that you want and what would need to happen for that to be achieved. It’s OK if you want something new to align with your family commitments. But equally, it’s okay to still have the same drive and determination to pursue your career goals. Don’t settle for someone’s dream.
2. Setting up support.
Once you've identified your goals, consider what conversations and support systems you need in place. Discuss childcare arrangements, financial considerations, and how you and your partner can share responsibilities. Engage family and friends for additional support, and have an open dialogue with your employer about flexible work options if that is what you require. Structuring your work day to accommodate family needs does not impact productivity.
3. Focus on your achievements:
Remind yourself of your career achievements as you prepare to return to work. This will help you during conversations with your employer and serve as a reminder of who you were before becoming a parent. Don't succumb to the temptation of accepting an easier job with fewer responsibilities out of guilt. This often leads to overcompensation and lower remuneration. Such decisions can set back your career, damage your self-esteem, and exacerbate any feelings of mum guilt.
4. Communicate with employers:
It's crucial for both parents to maintain open and honest communication with their employers. All too often this is left solely to the mother with caregiving duties. Discuss your expectations and any necessary changes in your work schedules and responsibilities. Explore options like flexible work arrangements, remote work, adjusted hours, or job-sharing, as they can effectively accommodate your family's needs. It is possible to job-share in leadership roles - you don’t have to settle for less.
5. Prepare for Emotional Challenges:
Understand that returning to work may come with mixed emotions, including guilt, anxiety, or even feelings of shame for not feeling guilty. It's okay to feel a range of emotions. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential for your well-being and your family's happiness. Returning to work can enhance your self-worth, confidence, and overall well-being. Give yourself the grace to adapt to this transition and seek support from both colleagues and loved ones.
Returning to work after maternity leave is a personal journey, and it's important to find a balance that works for you, your family, and your career aspirations.
About the Author
Rebecca Ann is a career expert and mentor who specialises in helping women unlock their full potential. She is founder of The Successful Leader’s Collective and a sought-after speaker and workshop facilitator. Most recently Rebecca worked for the UK Government, where she was a strong advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion. For more information on The Successful Leaders’ Collective and Rebecca, visit: https://successfulleaderscollective.com/