When it comes to making the decision to go back to work after having children, there’s absolutely no right or wrong answer – only what works for you, your personal circumstances, and your family.
You may decide to go back to work straight after your maternity leave ends, or you may wait until your child starts school. It could be financial and practical reasons, or perhaps you just started your dream career before your little one made their appearance and you really want to put those skills and all that studying to use.
No matter what your reasons for deciding to go back to work, and no matter when you decide to make that leap, this is not going to be the same as it would be in your pre-child days, so below we’ve listed some things you can expect when making this transition so you’re fully prepared.
There’s one that people conveniently forget to mention about becoming a mother, and that thing is guilt. Insane amounts of it.
When you’re a mum, there’s guilt for every occasion – the time you had a glass of wine right before you found out you were pregnant, right through to the time you sent them to nursery without their Halloween costume because you got the days mixed up and now you’re worried you’ve damaged them for life.
Going back to work is going to be no different – in fact, it will be worse. Not only do you battle with all your own thoughts on this, but you’ll come across many people who sound like they invented parenting all too happy to offer up their unsolicited advice and opinions on the subject.
Once you learn to drown all that stuff out you’ll realise that you wouldn’t feel guilty if you weren’t a good parent, and that by going back to work, you’re not only helping to feed and clothe your children, but are setting an example for them that they, too, can successfully raise a family and make their own money.
Everything Takes Longer:
Remember those days pre-children when all you had to worry about was getting yourself out of the door and into work in the morning? You had it all down to a fine art and could probably make it out of the house within 15 minutes if you had to.
Those days are long gone, and not only will 15 minutes barely be enough time to negotiate with your child when it comes to getting out of bed, you’ll have to add on extra time for everything – including getting out of the door.
Just when you think you’re good to go, one of them can’t find their shoes, the other has wandered off somewhere, and if it’s a really bad day, one of them might just decide it seems like a good time for a full-on tantrum.
Seriously, when it comes to getting out the door in the morning with children, think of the time you’d realistically set and then double it.
Qualifications Need Updating:
Depending on what your career was before, and the job you’re going for now, you may be required to brush up on your skills and qualifications.
With technology creating so much change at a rapid pace, many industries are finding themselves forced to evolve with the times or risk losing large numbers of jobs.
For example, if you studied IT in the 90s or even early 2000s, you’ll find the whole landscape has almost completely changed, and you’ll need to brush up on what’s currently happening.
Thankfully, there’s never been a better time for people re-entering the workforce after an extended break to achieve qualifications from basic certificates right through to Masters Degrees and even PhDs. You don’t even need to attend a university in person for many of these, and can take distance learning courses from places like Aston Online part time so that you can work your studies around your family life.
One of the biggest costs for parents who want to go back to work before children reach school age is childcare. Although nurseries offer places to children from aged 3, there’s no guarantee of a place, and even if you do get one, it may not be close to where you live or work.
Many mums will stay home for the first 3-5 years simply because childcare is either lacking in availability or the cost of childcare actually exceeds the income, and so doesn’t make sense for them to go to work all day when all of the money they’re earning is going on childcare and they could just spend time with their children instead.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to put your career dreams on hold, it’s just something you should consider and decide what the best solution is for your family.
Even if you go back to work part time in the beginning, it could be easier to find a more flexible solution for childcare, such as grandparents if they live nearby. Also when considering any new job, you should always ask about any benefits such as flexi-time for parents, on-site childcare or vouchers towards the cost, as these are now becoming more common as an incentive in order to encourage parents back into the workforce.
Although there are definitely some things that will be a different when you decide to go back to work, you’ll get used to it again, and if anything the experience of having children – especially getting them out the door on time in the morning will probably help you be better at your job because you’ll be far better at multi-tasking and getting things done on time without any fuss.
Hopefully this post has helped prepare you for some of the things you can expect when going back to work after having children, but also shown that with some planning, it’s really not as scary or as overwhelming as it seems, and that you don’t have to feel guilty about making the right decision for your family.