Getting back into the workforce can be a daunting prospect for a lot of parents. It takes time to regain your confidence and dip back in at a level that’s right for you.
After I had my first child, I wasn’t sure where I was heading career-wise. After 12 months at home with my bub, I emerged from the fog of sleep deprivation to realise that my career ambitions co-existed with my desire to be a great mum.
At the same time, I knew I couldn’t return to my crazy busy role that had me managing a team of full-timers and working ridiculous hours. After reassessing (and expressing) my needs, I nabbed a part-time, flexible role that worked for me and my young family. Along the way, I picked up a fair few tips that I hope will help any other parents looking to return to work:
1. Be confident in negotiating arrangements.
If you want to return to your previous workplace, don’t be shy in pitching your ideal scenario. When my maternity leave was almost up, I sat down with my boss and explained that my previous role just wasn’t conducive to life with a little one. While my husband was open to going part-time, I really wanted to spend as much time as I could with my son while also pursuing my career goals. I confidently asked if I could come back to work three days per week and still work at a senior level but with no direct reports. Lo and behold, a new role was created for me that didn’t result in a pay cut (pro rata of course) and ensured I could achieve some semblance of work/life balance. The key was knowing my worth and not being afraid to ask for what I wanted.
2. Set boundaries early.
During my first few weeks back at work, I ensured everyone was aware of my family commitments. My husband and I alternate daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, which means every second day I have to leave the office by 5pm. I made it clear from the outset that working until 10pm at night was no longer an option as my number one priority is my family. Are there occasions when I’ve had to work back to help out with urgent tasks? Sure, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Having a fairly autonomous role and always ensuring deadlines are met means I never have to deal with any eyerolls as I hightail it to the carpark.