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A Guide To Returning To Work After Maternity Leave

Navigating the tricky terrain of pregnancy and work is complicated. We’ve all heard stories from the likes of Pregnant then Screwed, highlighting discrimination faced by those who decide to start or grow their family. There’s systemic change that needs to happen to support those who carry babies to continue to have long and successful careers should they wish to. But until that systemic change happens to stamp out discrimination, how can working parents embrace the every-day career changes that come when you have kids?

There’s no doubt that having a baby can change your career. The unacceptable changes highlighted by Pregnant then Screwed prove that discrimination amongst pregnant people and parents is rife. We’re pretty sure that all working parents have experienced the anxiety that comes with expecting a child and being concerned about the future of your career.

The working parents problem: aka “the enormous task, both logistical and emotional, of earning a living and building a career while being an engaged and loving mother or father” is a real challenge and one which every parent faces. Once children enter the picture, the work scene changes altogether. But there are plenty of ways having a baby can change your career in a good way.


Transferable skills

If the pandemic has proved anything, it’s that working parents are expert multitaskers, but there are numerous other transferable skills that parenting offers that make us incredibly employable. Parenting genuinely translates into worthwhile job skills that will look killer on your CV. If you’re anything like us, chances are, you won’t even notice some of these things but, just for a minute, let us hold up a mirror and show you the skills that we (and any prospective employer will) see when we look at you.

  • Time management:

Parents are experts in time management. Getting a small child out of bed, washed, dressed, fed and to school or nursery on time, while juggling your own morning routine of getting up, washed, dressed, fed (LOL) and to work on time as well as battling questions such as “do bees poo?” and “Mummy, where is my Lego seahorse?” all without Bernard’s Watch makes you a master of time. We’re sure of it. Any person who can do all of that can juggle whatever any employer throws at them. All while googling to find out that yes, bees do poo.

  • Prioritisation:

When you’re handling 1001 tasks a day, you get really good at figuring out which tasks really have to be done, and which ones have to be done first. As parents, we’re always trying to make sense of to-do lists that are as long as several arms, so we get very good at knowing what’s the priority and doing that efficiently and effectively. An essential tool any boss would be grateful for.

  • Organisation: 

Parents are often super organisers, juggling calendars, family projects, meal plans, social schedules and much more. There are usually a lot of things going on and your ability to manage all of this translates into an exceptional ability to manage multiple projects, stakeholders and expectations. All very desirable.

  • Problem solving:

Every industry needs problem solvers and you’ll never find a problem solver like a parent, amirite?! Babies and children present an endless list of practical and emotional problems that need solving. Whether you’re explaining what a word means or mediating furious arguments with siblings or friends, to fixing broken toys or dealing with bumps bruises and scrapes, as a parent, you’re Solutions Manager in Chief. That translates to the workplace.

  • Communication:

Ever had to talk down a tiny human who will not believe that eating their banana off the floor isn’t OK? Remember  persuading your child that holding your hand to cross the road is essential? Dealt with a tired and unreasonable toddler? You’re a master at communication. As a parent, you’re constantly mentoring, teaching and counselling your children and this in turn has taught you to persuade, interview and listen better. All massive ticks for prospective employers.


Beyond the school run

Louise Webster set up Beyondtheschoolrun after realising the people she met at the school gates were an untapped pool of talent. Beyondtheschoolrun became a place to help working parents utilise their skills and talents in the hours available to them.

Louise explains: “There’s no doubt that for most, having children will impact their way of working. I speak to countless mothers who have adapted, pivoted and created a new way. That said, what I do believe is that becoming a parent can also open the gates to an entirely new way for working, a way that will serve us for the rest of our lives, a way that isn’t 9-5, that isn’t competitive and a race to the finish line, but a collective journey to unlocking our purposes, ebb and flowing through the periods of our lives of caring for others and thriving in unlocking and utilising our talents throughout all stages of our lives. This new way I believe will serve future generations, create greater wellbeing and will honour the role of caring in our journey as human beings.”

She adds: “For many becoming a parent has given them the drive to do what they always wanted to do, the need to use the short windows of time available to them wisely to make a difference and also do something that truly works for them and makes a mark on the world.”


“Opportunity for positive change”

Louise goes on to explain that being a parent offers a unique opportunity to make a positive change to your career path: “It is so important harness a parent’s new found compassion for the world, creativity and drive for good.  Becoming a parent doesn’t need to be the stop, this is the start.”

In terms of practical steps, Louise believes exploration is key: “Start looking at what’s important to you, your true values, what lights you up. Maybe work with a career coach to identify some of these answers.  Then there are many options, re-skilling is one.  Many mothers within our community have re-skilled in a new area to their previous careers such as becoming social media consultants.  Many others have set up business with a deep passion for change. 

“Whatever it might be, take the first step: write the blog, sign up to the course, join the members group amongst like minded people or share your new found vision.  It will be the start of a very exciting journey.”

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