Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Autumn Issue 2012 | Elizabeth Jeffries
Q: I’m planning to return to work after having a baby but daunted by the prospect – can you help?
A: Two thirds of mothers return to work once their maternity leave has finished, according to a recent poll. In some cases it is out of financial necessity, in others, women want to get back to work to pursue their careers. Whatever the reason, working and having children can be tricky and almost always involves compromise. What’s more there is no right way to do it - what works for one woman and her family, wouldn’t work for another.
The important thing is to find a solution that works for you. Thankfully, there are now a number of organisations to help mothers find a way of juggling work and home life. The award-winning Women Like Us social business, for example, set up by two working mums who themselves wanted to find work ‘at their level’ after having children, offers practical career advice and help to women wanting to get back to work after a break. Through a series of workshops, its aim is to give women the choice to fit work around the needs of their family, without losing their value in the workplace. It also runs a website called Timewise Jobs which specialises in quality part-time job vacancies that women need so much. Businesswoman and full-time mother-of-two Vivienne Lopez, who set up the luxury children’s shoe company Vevian, says having a good support network is key to juggling home and work life successfully. Having lots of mummy friends you can barter babysitting with is also invaluable. Her other tips include finding a work place that is respectful and understanding of you as an employee and a mother – it’s inevitable there will be days when your baby isn’t well and you need to have time off - but at the same time demonstrate that you are reliable and will get the job done. She says: “You need to come to terms with the fact that there may never be a perfect balance. Accept this feeling and simply continue to strive to do your best.”
Q: What is the ideal age gap between children?
A: Many parents worry about this, but the truth is there’s no ideal age gap between siblings. The arrival of a new edition to the family will inevitably lead to a period of adjustment whatever the age of your other children. What’s more, there are bonuses and disadvantages of every age gap – born closer together siblings may play together more (or fight more!), but further apart you may be able to give your new baby more attention, without the distraction of a needy toddler. What’s more important is when you feel ready. This may depend on lots of factors such as whether you are working or not, how much support you have, how old you are, how many children you want to have and how you have coped with having a baby before. Wanting another baby is more important than when you have it. There is no perfect time – and you can’t guarantee it will happen exactly when you want it to anyway. If there’s one thing parenthood teaches you, it is how to be adaptable – a skill that comes in handy if and when a new baby arrives.