For the professional woman, maternity leave can be quite daunting. In fact, the whole experience can be quite unanchoring, especially when you consider that more than 3,100 women filed for pregnancy discrimination charges in 2017 alone. The maternity-professional life conflict is, unfortunately, still an extremely pressing issue in today’s world.
Just how can you not only protect your career but boost it, while taking time off to welcome a new life into the world? How can you embrace motherhood without compromising your work in the process? It’s not impossible. Read on to discover our top tips on how to do it.
- Use the time wisely
We know, this might seem like a self-evident point, but it’s one that so many new mothers seem to forget. With the strains of parenting, pregnancy and work anxiety, it can be really easy to fall into a world filled with nappies and exhaustion.
Make sure that you aren’t burning yourself out, make time for ‘me’ time and enjoy the time you have off to relax. It’s not every day that you’re able to take a year off work, is it?
There’s a very real trend, that we have to be working non-stop, sleeping very little and continuously be busy – but this can be really detrimental. Use the time to do the most important things, this way you’ll be refreshed when you return back to work – which is much more appealing than somebody whose body is 90% coffee.
- Build your network
Maternity leave is the perfect time to not just stay on top of your connections but find some more. With networking social media networks like LinkedIn, BumbleBizz and Happening, it’s easier than ever to discover new people, find a new work partner and attend events.
When you return back to work, you can showcase your new networks, introduce useful events and promote your business, while you’re away. This will be a real boost to your professional life, proving just how committed and innovative you are.
We also highly recommend that you begin to connect with women that have been through maternity leave or are currently on maternity leave too. This way you’ll be able to pick up little hints and tips from them, help each other along and be inspired. It’s also nice to know you’re not alone – a feeling that very often encompasses new mothers.
- Learn new skills
You have time off from your usual nine-to-five, although being a full-time mom can be extremely time-consuming, you can focus a little bit of time to learn some new skills. Perhaps teach yourself some programming basics, touch up on digital marketing skills, learn a new language. What types of capabilities could really boost your career life? Data presentation? SEO? Social media marketing? Critical thinking?
It also has to be mentioned that being a mother will really teach you incredible life skills. Things like patience, perseverance, multi-tasking, and selflessness. Also, you learn how to eat with just one hand, we don’t know how useful that will be at work, but you never know.
- Keep in touch
Staying visible is quite essential while on maternity leave. Even if it’s sending out emails or messages, letting your work know that you’re thinking about them is really beneficial.
Arrange lunch with your co-workers or boss is a really great idea, they’ll want to know all about your baby but make sure that you show interest in work, developments, and changes. This way, you’ll also know exactly what to expect when you return back to work, making everything a little less alien to you.
Don’t even give your work the chance to forget about you.
- Are there new opportunities?
Time off work can allow you to reflect on everything and a baby can make you evaluate your career. Perhaps you want a new challenge, or you want to follow a new direction.
There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with wanting something more flexible, your priorities have completely changed now, and that’s okay.
Every woman is different, some want to go back to the exact role that they had before their maternity leave, others return aiming for a promotion, and then there are the new moms that decide to embark on an entirely new challenge.
With this new, exciting chapter in your life, really ask yourself, are you working a job that you love? Are you happy with your decision to work there? Is there something else you’ve always wanted to do?
A common misconception about having a child is that your freedom ends, but in reality, it could be just the push you need to really enhance your life. There’s no harm in looking and trying, is there?
- Start freelancing
If you are looking for a new opportunity, remote work might just be the thing you’re looking for.
There are many reasons why women may choose to start remote work during maternity. Avoiding the “resume gap,” earning extra money, developing new skills or starting a new life working from home are the main purposes.
There are so many opportunities for working online, some moms have even built their life around it. Things like becoming a virtual assistant, customer support, social media managers and tutoring don’t require any out-of-the-ordinary type of skills and pay enough to support your family.
If you do possess specific skills or experience, web design, digital marketing, and programming jobs are highly sought after online. The best writing services are always looking for talented writers.
Remote work and mom life can really complement each other well – you get to choose your own hours, save money on childcare and do something that you really love.
- Get organized
Having a baby really does flip your life upside down. Before you know it, you’ve accidentally put your laundry in the fridge and the milk in the washing machine. The best thing that you can do is to get as organized as possible, before going back to work.
Keeping in touch with your co-workers and boss can help you expect the unexpected. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be prepared for everything.
Practicing your morning work routine, buying some new work clothes and writing down to-do lists will obviously all help.
Ease yourself into work, take your time to work everything out and don’t take on more than you can handle.
- Decide how long you want your maternity leave to be
The good news is, it’s your choice when you return from work, even if you’re an entrepreneur. If you plan to take the whole 52 weeks, great. If you decide to go back earlier — great. Just being prepared is a great way to start your new mom career life.
There’s a prevailing theory which states that mothers who take more time off during maternity leave, are less likely to be promoted, and seen as less committed to their job. Although, this might, unfortunately, be true, don’t let it control your decision.
If you decide to take off the whole year, networking, developing new skills and continuously keeping in touch will prove that you are committed, hard-working and worthy of a promotion.
It’s an important choice to make, take time to really consider everything and make plans for the date.
- It’s not impossible
The work and child caring juggle is not impossible, despite what you might have heard. In fact, many new-moms look forward to being around adults every day after their maternity leave.
With specific challenges, will come even more significant rewards. You’ll have the satisfaction of progressing in your career, doing what you love and raising a child. Studies have even shown that there is a positive long-term effect on children whose mom’s work full-time, so, don’t feel guilty.
- Don’t forget your most important job
So much focus is placed on our careers and professional life, don’t fall into the trap of being wholly preoccupied with that one thing. You’ve just had a baby, focusing on yourself and the newborn is really so much more important in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t work yourself to exhaustion, don’t make yourself feel guilty and always make sure you’re in good health.
As new moms and dads all over the world will be able to tell you, there’s nothing more fulfilling than raising your child. Jobs will come and go, opportunities will surface, and everything happens for a reason.
“Many women on maternity leave do experience bias and discrimination, we like to suggest that, if this is the case, this is proof that it isn’t the role that will benefit you the most, anyway.” — Jeniffer Watts, Senior Editor at Top Essay Writing.
Maternity leave and becoming a new mother doesn’t have to be damaging to your career. Take the time to develop new skills, build your network and evaluate everything that you want from your career. With an excellent organization, and a tiny bit of compromise you can be a successful working woman and a hands-on mother.
Just remember to have fun in the meanwhile.