So your baby has finally arrived. As you make your way home from the hospital, you’re filled with excitement and anticipation as you embark on a completely new chapter of your life. It’s likely that the last thing then on your mind is what you are going to do with regard to your career…
When I had my little boy 4 and a half years ago it was only really my female obstetrician (a mum herself) who spoke to me about the impact that having a baby could have on my career and the decisions I was likely to face. I remember replying perhaps with hindsight rather naively ‘Yes I am definitely going back. I will continue as before.’ I had a demanding job in the City with very unpredictable hours. Fortunately, these types of conversations nowadays I feel are more open, with many firms offering maternity coaching and support, helping parents ease back into work.
It is not until your baby arrives and you settle down into the routine that thoughts will turn to work. After all, there are dates to adhere to with regard to maternity leave and organising the childcare that will take longer than you think. If you go for the nursery option, places get booked up very fast so you will be making these decisions very early on perhaps even when still pregnant.
It is really important to spend some time on deciding exactly what you would like to do with regard to work. Do you want to work fewer days, or work from home? Preparing your flexible working request with details of how things would work in practice is most definitely worth doing.
What you decide to do career-wise will be driven by your own circumstances. Each woman’s situation is unique to them and what is right for one woman may not be right for another. Not easy but also try and knock any guilty feelings on the head.
My situation has been interesting. I did go back to work (3 days per week) but realised that the job was bigger than that. I rather sadly resigned but I also knew for my own happiness that I wanted some kind of professional outlet as well as being a mum. To get the flexibility I needed I set up my own business as well as www.boardroommum.com. I could not find the resource I so desperately wanted so I created it myself.
I very much believe that a happy mum means a happy child. My little boy understands that his mum works and after some practice I now move from school run to my work and back again with relative ease although there are days when I resemble a duck swimming along calmly but paddling furiously under the surface!
Let us also not forget those mums who have decided to take a few years out to raise their children and now that they are at school they may wish to make a return to work. Having the confidence to return can be a barrier as can be the lack of part-time opportunities at the appropriate level. However there are some recruitment agencies such as Timewise Recruitment and Ten2Two that can help. I feel rather sad that there is so much untapped talent standing at the school gates up and down the country waiting to be realised!
Being a mum is wonderful, challenging and at times exhausting. In fact the role changes all the time, which certainly keeps me on my toes! What I have only recently realised is that becoming a mum has been a catalyst for so much positive change both personally and professionally. To me it is not about ‘having it all’ it is about ‘having your all.’
MD & Founder www.boardroommum.com
Amanda Bolt is the Founder & Managing Director of www.boardroommum.com, an online resource with a vast array of information and commentary for women who are combining their career or business aspirations with motherhood. Amanda comments and speaks on topics around women and work, working motherhood and women in business. After more than 15 years working in the City, Amanda also runs her own investor relations consultancy.