Returning to work when juggling life as a parent

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For many new parents, the thought of returning to work can be a daunting one. As part of my blog collaboration series, I am joined by Laura Izard known as the Comeback Girl (@C0mebackG1rl on Twitter) to discuss how parents can prepare themselves before returning to the world of work.

Whether you are at the end of your maternity leave or you’ve taken a career break, returning to work can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, and confidence can play a big part in the decision-making process. Having children changes your life so thinking about returning to work and putting yourself first can make you feel guilty as a parent, but it shouldn’t. Returning to work can be fulfilling, exciting and rewarding, but most of all, it can make you feel like ‘you’ – pre-children!

Understandably, when you become a parent your priorities change in a big way, so firstly, it is important to understand and be realistic about the expectations you have for yourself. You may feel guilt about leaving little ones at home, that’s normal and it’s also normal not to feel it. It’s vital self-care to consider your needs too.

By preparing yourself for your return to work, this will make the process a lot less stressful, think about what you need considering your child’s routine; do you need childcare, support from family or a partner? It may also help to talk to other working parents to see if they can give any advice.

Laura advises “don’t go back to work just because you think you should. Be confident in your own choices and your “why”. This is your motivation on the grey days. Crucially, don’t discount the transferrable skills that you got on your gap or the many years of experience you had prior.  Just learn to articulate them in a few lines. If you’re ready and your home-team is lined up to support (including a Whatsapp group of friends to help with awry childcare plans) it’s an exciting time.” It is also essential not to discount what you have learned on your break; you are more, not less. It’s not a big scary world out there; it’s a collection of people just like you, who need their work problems fixed and their pain points taken away, it is ok to be human!

When approaching your job search, make sure you do a bit on your job search each day, consistently to guard against the fear factor, take it one step at a time. Define the role that works for you and your family. Get to grips with all of your past work achievements and what you have delivered, update your LinkedIn profile and reach out to your network, you never know where conversations will lead.

 

If you are going for interviews, be yourself and certainly don’t allow your confidence to subside by comparing yourself to other candidates, you have different priorities and areas of focus. You have a lot to offer perspective employers and you’ll soon get back into the swing of things. Laura and I can certainly agree on this; it is vital to quieten down your inner critic. No comparison allowed! By keeping a positive and optimistic mindset, we are more likely to land that ideal role.

If you have been out of work for a while and are unsure about how to take those steps back into the work environment, make sure that you’ll be going into a role you will enjoy. Whilst work is not the be all and end all, at the same time, you don’t want to be in a role that doesn’t fulfil your expectations.

Laura’s key advice to comeback success is to be you are clear on the type of job you want. Create a rich picture of your dream job that allows you deliver your unique market edge and feel purpose. It is scientifically proven that your subconscious will start moving you towards this new reality. Ask yourself a better question, instead of “`Who on earth would want me now?” flip to: “How can I solve problems that I really enjoy solving and be paid for it?”. Knowing the difference you make creates your unique pitch.

Once you are back you’ll want to try and prove yourself in double-quick time, don’t try and be a superhero…you will find it frustrating at times, and at other times, it doesn’t work for everyone so remain open minded. It does take time to adjust back so be patient with yourself, and whilst it may seem like you will never get back into work mode – you will, by being prepared and planning your return, it will transition back seem less overwhelming than you initially thought.

 

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