How to return to work on your own terms - from a mum who has done it twice.

H&R Block
Thanks to our brand partner, H&R Block

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:

post-baby work transition
The post-baby, back-to-work transition can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Image supplied.

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.

post-baby work transition
You can definitely balance your career with being a great mum. It just takes a bit of work. Image supplied.

3. Change it up.

If your current workplace isn’t open to meeting your needs or if you’re stepping fresh back into the workforce, look for a flexible new role or bite the bullet and launch your own business. I know so many parents who have ditched the nine to five and are thriving as interior designers, freelance journalists, tax accountants, web developers, personal stylists and online retailers. Will it be hard work? Hell yes, but it’ll also enable you to set your own hours and pick and choose which projects you’d like to take on.

4. Never stop learning.

Throughout my two chunks of maternity leave, I continued to study. It took me five years to complete my Masters but it gave me such a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I’m not saying you need to consider such a big undertaking, but study can open a lot of doors, particularly if you’re looking to make a career change. For example, if you’ve always had a knack for numbers, H&R Block Tax Accountants have a 16-week Income Tax Course that could lead to various casual, part-time or full-time career opportunities. The course is the first step in building a rewarding career as a tax consultant with H&R Block, an organisation that prides itself on providing family-friendly job opportunities to its graduates. One look at the course testimonials and it’s clear that several parents have found their return to work groove after signing up.

Post baby to work transition.
A supportive partner can make all the difference, and compromise is key. Image supplied.

5. Share the load if you can.

It is super handy to have a supportive partner when juggling the demands of work and raising little people – someone who is willing to readjust their plans at the last minute and share the load when things get hectic. If I ever have to attend a work event at night or travel to a conference, I know my husband will take the reins at home without complaint and vice versa. It isn’t always smooth sailing but having a partner who values and respects your career is a major plus.

I’d also like to remind all mums to never ever feel like you have to apologise for having a baby. Your priorities may have changed but you can still be a kick-arse career nailer while raising your brood. They key is to find a career that works for you and your beautiful family.

Interested in a flexible, family-friendly career? Registrations are now open for the H&R Block Income Tax Course, which kicks off on 12 February 2018. Sign up at H&R Block.

Have you got any tips to add to Jacqui's? Hit 'Join The Conversation' below and share yours.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner H&R Block.