I know it’s just not easy returning after a career break. I went back to work and re-invented myself several times in sixteen years of motherhood and would love to share what I learned. Because it can be done and, looking back, you might have surprised yourself.
Build local friendships
Find other mothers of children the same age – this was vital to me right from the beginning, as I had no local extended family. I sought out local parent and toddler groups and, luckily, had a thriving NCT group in the area, which ran weekly coffee mornings. It made a huge difference to know that others were going through the same experiences and we would help each other out by looking after each other’s children to enable ourselves to attend appointments or giving each other time to get on with some housework, and later would baby sit or cover for out of term work commitments. Some of the mothers I knew at the beginning have become friends for life!
Take time to think about what you really want to do
It is really worth writing down what it is you really want from life and trying to find the type of work that fits best. There is an excellent book, “Back on the Career Track” by Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin, who run www.irelaunch.com. Both the book and the website have useful self-tests, information and guidance for people wanting to return to work after a career break. And I can recommend browsing through the ‘back to work’ section on Mum & Career, as there is a lot of useful guidance on there.
It is never possible to fit everything into the day, so make sure you know which are the most important things for you and be ruthless about not taking on too much. I found, particularly when volunteering, that it was easy to say yes; often it was only later that the scale of what I had agreed to would become apparent! Particularly in school holidays, I have learned that work sometimes has to take a back seat.
Have a passion or a hobby in your life
A a mother, it is very easy to lose your own identity and just become someone’s mum. Balancing work and home-life is a major challenge and can become overwhelming, so it is important to have some “me” time when you do something for yourself!
My own story: re-inventing myself
Prior to 1996, I had a full-time career as a Product Manager in an international IT company, working long hours and travelling extensively. When my son was born, I chose to leave full-time employment to look after him. Whilst he was young, I volunteered for the NCT (National Childbirth Trust), local parent and toddler groups and later school parent committees. When he started school, I re-trained as a Kodaly music teacher. This became a ten-year career, teaching 0-6 year olds part-time at the music school where I trained as well as two local pre-schools.
I am now re-launching myself a second time, this time running my own business, following a great passion for golf!
Author: Lucie Robson runs Off The Red Tees, a new business, launched in March 2011, arranging social and networking golf events for women and providing golf-related information via . Lucie is a wife and a mother of a teenage son living in Berkshire, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org