When you have a family, setting off for work every day is like a military operation. Mothers try to make the system – breakfast, schoolbag, train ticket, afterschool, what to have for dinner – slot together like clockwork.
But if you’re a new mum the prospect of finding a job while managing a family can be daunting. We have some tips to help you plan your re-entry into the world of work.
Sharpen up your skills
Maybe you are a domestic goddess and have loved every minute of being at home and caring for your baby. But it’s a good idea to take a course that will add something to your CV. It could be bookkeeping or baking, coding or marketing, but it will introduce you once again to the professional world.
Look far and wide
Don’t restrict yourself only to hunting for jobs online. Recruitment alerts are useful but there are other options to find out about potential jobs. Re-connect, in the nicest possible way, with former colleagues. If you’re a member of a professional organisation, squeeze some time out to go to a meeting. Contact the local chamber of commerce. Create a LinkedIn profile if you do not already have one. Each move will boost your confidence.
Highlight what you have learned
It’s easy to feel disheartened because you think you’ve been isolated and housebound. Instead, think of what you have learned and mention it on your CV – how to multitask for example, or even how you would run a mother and baby group if you got the chance. These are management issues and someone will spot that you have an original idea.
Explore different working patterns
If you had been working before, think back to your workload and what you could comfortably manage as a new mother. You could:
Do five days’ work in four. This would mean longer days, but a four-day week.
Work from home a couple of days, and one day in the office – you need the IT and equipment to do this
Job share. Are you suited to this kind of collaborative working?
Project work. You should be a self-starter and someone who doesn’t need supervision.
Don’t rule out full-time work
You may feel that you don’t have the energy or the childcare to take on a full-time job. However, if you see a job that seems ideal, apply for it. Employers are more open these days to considering different solutions if they find a good candidate – you have to convince them that your skills offer a perfect fit.
Research prospective employers
Workplaces with creches are as common as hen’s teeth. But that doesn’t mean that companies cannot have child-friendly policies. Research the workplace culture of any potential employers, for example how they handle maternity leave. That will give you an indication of their approach to working mothers.
Know your maternity leave rights
If you’re a new mum returning after maternity leave you’re probably aware of the rules. If you are already on maternity leave then do you know about the government’s Keeping in Touch (KIT) days? You are allowed to work up to 10 KIT days during maternity or adoption leave without bringing your leave or pay to an end, says Maternity Action, which has practical advice for parents.
Sort out your finances
Bringing up a baby is an expensive business. You may be looking forward to earning a bit more when you return to work but check out your entitlements well in advance. There have been changes recently, with Universal Credit replacing Child Tax Credit, so make sure you don’t lose out when you’re back at work.
Be confident about childcare
Every mum feels a terrible wrench when she leaves her baby for the first time – at the playgroup, the childminder’s door or the school gates. How can you trust your precious baby to someone else? Look at your options: from finding a nursery to sharing a nanny with other parents, or relying on a trusted neighbour. Ask your friends or other mothers in the area, and research their recommendations. If you have a job offer see if the company offers childcare vouchers.
Do a practice run…
Get yourself into shape for a full day out of the house, minus baby, even if you’re only thinking about going back to work. Organise childcare. Get ready as though you were going to work – a crisp but casual outfit. Allow enough time to pack a baby bag and to travel to town/work. Once you’re there meet some friends and have a relaxing lunch. Take in a few sights. Maybe plan something nice for dinner. And don’t ring home to ask about the baby. There, you’ve done it…