Category: Deciding if you want to Return

Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? - Emma's Story

Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? – Emma’s Story

Before my maternity leave began, I was asked many times if I was going to go back to work. At the time I felt unsure but hoped I would make the right choice when the time approached.

Now I am about to go back, I am still unsure. That’s because whatever I had chosen to do, I’d still feel guilty.

Staying at Home – My Thoughts

If I stay home, I’m relying on my husband’s income which would put a strain on us. Then I’d have to ask him for money – he’d be paying for his own birthday and Christmas presents…

Then what would the rest of the family think? Am I a stay at home Mum or an unemployed person?

I’d also consider the lack of adult company. I could go along to toddler groups, but that involves conversations about babies. I wouldn’t mind that of course, but for how long? My job isn’t particularly challenging mentally, but I still need to do a bit of thinking. However, with baby brain, that makes me nervous.

Going Back to Work – My Thoughts

Then going back to work can have it’s down sides. Apart from the early morning stress of getting everyone up, washed dressed, fed and out of the house on time, there’s the worry of leaving my lovely bundle of joy all day long.

Will the childminder know all of her little quirks? When she’s tired will she just want Mummy? Then there’s the other children who could pick on her. She’s just a baby after all.

Okay, so it’s all about character building and not wrapping her up in cotton wool, but there’s no way I want to miss those milestones. I want to see her first steps.

Make the Most of Maternity Leave

The one thing I made sure I did was savour every day I had with my baby when I was off work. I did things I probably wouldn’t get the chance to do once I was back.

I did every baby group going from Yoga to Zumbini. I even did stuff around the house and garden I wouldn’t normally do.

It can be lonely with a small baby all day long, so I checked out what was going on at the local children centres.

What’s Best for You and Baby

I made the personal choice to return to work part time. That way I could still keep my job with a possibility of going back full time again one day.

As my daughter is getting older, she’s becoming more independent. There’s more to life than hanging out with Mum. She wants to go off and play and learn with the other children. In another year, she’ll be going to pre-school. Then what will I do?

At least going back gives me options. If it works then that’s great. I’ve got a little independence myself, a small amount of income and something else in my life to focus on. It’s all about adjusting and just trying to get the balance right.

If it doesn’t work, then it’s back to the drawing board. I just need to remember why I need a job and why my baby might actually appreciate that in the long run.

Author: Emma Harvey, Emma is a working mother with a 12 year old and a 9 month old. She works in the care sector and has just returned from maternity leave as a trainer. She writes and blogs in her spare time. Read more on Emma’s own blog: HubPages

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave - Emma's Story

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave – Emma’s Story

Making the decision to return to work after having a baby can be one of the toughest you’ll make. Some Mum’s feel that financially it’s something they will have to do, whilst others want to go back to maintain their career.

Getting the balance right could be trial and error, but making sure it works for all the family could take a bit of juggling.

When Should I Return to Work?

Before going on maternity leave I was given the company’s policy on entitlement to leave and pay, and then you have to decide when to return to work.

When I had my son, I went back to work after four months of maternity leave. He was only three months old, and while I was only working on a part time basis it was just way too early. As I just wasn’t ready I left the company which put a huge strain on us in regards to income. However, when he was nine months old I began working again. I was more comfortable with him being older and becoming more independent.

Twelve years later, my baby girl was born and I made the decision to take the full year off.

This time I was lucky enough to ease back into things by working from home to begin with, and this actually encouraged me to go back early.

How long you choose to take off work will depend on you’re financial situation and your personal feelings. Some Mum’s enjoy having the time off to spend with their little one, but some miss the adult company and simply want the break away from dirty nappies and Cbeebies!

If you have a good relationship with your manager, you may be able to negotiate or alter your job role to suit your needs better.

Part Timer

If you previously worked on a full time basis, reducing your hours could make the transition run a little smoother. Working fewer days or shortening them down will give you and your baby time to adjust to the changes. When once it was just the two of you, suddenly baby needs to get used to spending the days with someone else and possibly in a new environment.

Think through your decision to cut your hours though, if one day to want to go back to full time. Your employer may not be able to offer those hours again for you in the future.

Making it Easy For Baby – Childcare Options

Before you go back to work, you will constantly think about who is going to look after your baby. You can find more information here on childminders, nurseries, nannies and au-pairs or more information on finding and managing childcare.

If you are lucky to have a family member who is willing and able, or you are sharing the childcare with your partner, then you don’t have the stress of going out there and finding someone. You’ll have the benefit of knowing the person well, and it’s a familiar face for baby.

If you need to seek an alternative then do your research well in advance. Search what is available to you in your area and always go with your gut feeling. Use some of your time on maternity leave, to search for local child care services. Send out some emails and arrange to make visits. It’s easy to stress out when you feel the first one you see isn’t what you want to go with. It may take a while, but you’ll know when it’s right. Arrange some settling in sessions to see how you and baby copes, so everything is in place when the time comes for you to get back to work.

Check out childcare costs and any entitlements you have with help towards those costs. If your company offers childcare vouchers then you can pay into the scheme from your salary, pre-tax, which can save you money in the long run.

Author: Emma Harvey, Emma is a working mother with a 12 year old and a 9 month old. She works in the care sector and has just returned from maternity leave as a trainer. She writes and blogs in her spare time. Read more on Emma’s own blog: HubPages

 

 

It’s okay to be anxious about returning to nursing after maternity leave

It’s okay to be anxious about returning to nursing after maternity leave

If you’re feeling panicky about returning to nursing after maternity leave then you’re not alone. Feeling guilty and tearful after a bad night’s sleep doesn’t bode well for giving injections and administering medication but there’s no need to worry.

Here are a few pointers to make sure you’re back to work in no time:

Remember employers understand

The core values of the nursing industry are compassion and care. The NHS have a duty of care to you and when compared to some more male dominated industries your boss will hopefully be a lot more understanding about the emotional and practical complications returning to work may cause. Your employer will be so used to welcoming mothers back that they will be ready to deal with all of the concerns and issues you may have. They might even offer you flexible working hours or have a special training programme for new mums. Speak to management before your return and see what they can do.

Options

If you’re thinking your old job may be too stressful or you’re looking for work closer to home there are many different hospitals and roles within nursing. You could consider doing agency work for a while – it’s best to have a look online for vacancies as there is a lot of well-paid temporary work out there until you’re ready to return to full-time work.

Before you return

There are lots of things you can do before your return to work to make the transition smoother. Nursing is ever changing, with budgets and targets to meet the NHS always having to evolve. Whilst you’re on maternity leave it’s a good idea to try keep up with the industry, you could do this by reading the Nursing Times. Making contact with your old colleagues in advance is also helpful, you can get the gossip and be filled in on important news so there isn’t too much to take in at first.

Childcare arrangements

Nursing can be quite physically tiring being on your feet all day and if your child isn’t sleeping very well this can make work quite exhausting. Make sure you plan with your partner who is going to get up in the night and take turns. Concrete childcare arrangements are essential; if you’re used to leaving your baby with a grandparent. for example. this should help you to feel less guilty and relaxed when at work.

Don’t feel guilty

Some mums are actually pleasantly surprised by how good returning to work can be. A lot of women miss having a laugh with the other nurses at work and enjoy being back in their normal environment. Even just getting ready for work, putting your makeup on and going somewhere without your child every day can make you feel like you’ve regained your independence. Also, as nursing is such a caring and rewarding profession it can make you feel extremely good about yourself again too.

Author:Brit Peacock is a journalism graduate who blogs on a variety of topics and takes a particular interest in writing about health-related issues. He has been published across a range of health websites, both in the UK and US, and is currently writing on behalf of UK nursing agency Nursing Personnel.

end of competitive advantage

What does success mean to you?

What does success mean to you? It’s an interesting question to consider as you go through your career and particularly when you are considering your options after a career break.

Conceptions of career success

When we talk about how successful someone is in their career, we still tend to use the obvious external markers. How much are they earning? What level have they reached in an organisation? If you consider that being the CEO earning £1m+ a year is the pinnacle of career success, it’s easy to feel that you have failed in your career once you’ve stepped off the career ladder to the top.

In fact, research has shown that the majority of people tend to judge their own success by more subjective measures. A classic study by Jane Sturges found that factors such as enjoyment, accomplishment, influence, expertise and personal recognition rated highly in a group of managers’ descriptions of what success meant to them. For all of the women in the study, the content of the job was rated as more important than pay or status. Balance criteria were also used by some of the managers – meaning that success for them was how effectively they combined a satisfying home and work life. From my perspective, achieving fulfillment and satisfaction in both home and work life is one of the greatest measures of career success, yet one that is rarely mentioned when we commonly talk or read about successful people.

What does success mean to you?

Developing your own success criteria can help you to feel more positive about the choices you have made to date and to develop clearer objectives for this next stage of your career.

A useful coaching exercise to help with this is to mentally fast-forward to your 70th birthday. To put you in the right frame of mind, imagine who is there with you, where you are, even what you are wearing.  Now imagine you’re giving a speech discussing what you’re proud of having achieved in your career and your life as a whole. What comes to mind? What will make you feel you have succeeded in your life? Write down whatever comes to mind and you’ll have a good starting point for developing your own personal view of success. And that’s what really matters…

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

Making your own choice on the working/stay-at-home mother decision

Making your own choice on the working/stay-at-home mother decision

A Daily Mail report this week that only 1 in 10 women are stay-at-home mothers, together with the judge’s ruling in a recent divorce case that a mother should ‘get a job’ once her children are seven, have reignited the debate about whether mothers ‘should’ be at home with their children or remain in the workforce. We’re at a strange point in history where there seems to be pressure both ways: a longstanding societal push, reinforced by some parts of the media, to be an at-home mother and a corresponding push from Government and other parts of the media to keep mothers working. Mothers are squeezed in the middle, torn as to the ‘right thing’ to do and feeling judged whatever path they take.

External Pressures

I hear these mixed messages played out on the personal level as well, from the mothers I work with. Some women feel pressure from partners/parents/friends to give total attention to the family, while others feel pushed to get back to work. And we then have our own internal ambiguity: “I’m being selfish and ungrateful if I want to work and leave my children” vs. “I’m wasting my education and sponging off my partner if I stay at home”. It’s not surprising that so many mothers feel guilty whatever they do.

There’s no RIGHT answer

What I’d love to tell all mothers wrestling with your work-home choices, either post maternity or career break, is this: There is no universal RIGHT answer. This is a time in your life when you need to acknowledge all the internal & external pressures you are experiencing, and then decide what is the best choice for you and your family, dependent on your desires and your personal circumstances (which can also change over time).

So which option do you choose?

If you have no real choice and need the income, then avoid the ‘pro-full-time mum’ press, focus on managing your work-home balance, read our articles on how to ditch the guilt and stop labelling yourself as selfish.

If you do have a choice, then focus on deciding what you want to do, not agonising over what you ‘should’ do. There are many options: working as an employee full-time/part-time/flexibly, setting up your own business, going freelance, pausing your career with a clear strategy to return later, or being an at-home mother. And it’s fine to chop and change over the years as you create a life balance that works for you.

Finding my way

Personally, I was taken aback by the pull I felt to stay at home for a few years when my kids were small – I’d always pictured myself as someone who would never take a break. Being at home suited me best in the early years but after four years I was desperate to engage my brain again in other interests and went back to university to retrain, doing some consultancy alongside. I then worked part-time and grew my own business, working longer hours as my children got older. Many of my friends and colleagues had different experiences; from those who were very happy get back to full-time work after maternity leave to those have remained at home until their children are much older and are only now considering how they can find their way back into work.

Feeling content with your life

There is no single and perfect solution. But you’ll know you’ve made the best choice for you when most of the time you feel (fairly) satisfied with your life and rarely feel frustrated and stuck in a place where you don’t want to be. And if you don’t feel satisfied, that’s when you need to make a change, not when other people say you should.

julianne&katerinaJulianne Miles, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.

Returning to Work - Why it's More Important Now Than Ever

Returning to Work – Why it’s More Important Now Than Ever

In a recent case in the Court of Appeal, Wright v Wright the issue of spousal maintenance once again found itself in the spotlight. This is a vital issue for any Stay-At-Home Mother or parent thinking about reducing her hours. When you divorce, there is no longer an automatic right to a part of your husbands income. Courts now expect you to ‘Get on With it’, find a job and become self sufficient, especially when you have children older than five. Although it does still depend on your circumstances. Of course you are probably not planning on a divorce, however marriages do change over time and you need to be prepared for every eventuality. We asked Family Lawyer Jonathan West to comment.

The Case on Spousal Maintenance

The case involved an application by the husband, a millionaire equine surgeon, to reduce the maintenance payments that he was providing to his wife after their divorce. At the time of the hearing the wife was 51 years of age, the husband 59 and the children were 16 and 10 – the eldest being at boarding school.

Their marriage had lasted 11 years and after they separated Tracey Wright received a £450,000 mortgage free home and maintenance of £75,000 a year – of which £33,000 was spousal support for her own personal upkeep.

The question for the court was essentially what was a reasonable period of time for spousal maintenance to continue in the circumstances of the case.

UK and Wales Spousal Maintenance vs. Europe

In the jurisdiction of England and Wales, whilst for decades there has been a duty on courts to consider a clean break outcome in divorce, many cases resulted in substantive joint life orders, or nominal ones.

It is not at all uncommon for a spouse – statistically usually the husband – to end up paying periodical payments to the other spouse for a period often significantly longer than the marriage lasted.

Many European countries severely limit maintenance terms – for example Sweden, terms are ordinarily between one and four years unless there are “extraordinary reasons” for granting a longer period, which even then, where possible, would be time limited.

Move south wards to the Czech Republic, maintenance orders are incredibly rare – in 2001 statistics show that there were just 932 maintenance orders out of over 30,000 divorces.

In The Netherlands there is a maximum 12 year term and if the marriage has lasted under five years maintenance will be limited to a maximum of the same length of the marriage. Denmark operates a similar system.

Even our nearest neighbours, The Scots, operate a system whereby maintenance will usually only last for three years save in exceptional circumstances.

Recent Changes in the UK

Over the course of the last few years in England we have seen a retreat from the joint lives orders for maintenance which will (typically) only terminate when a wife remarries or dies.

In 2008 Sir Mark Potter said the wife had no right to keep on living at the same standard:

“… On the exit from the marriage, the partnership ends and in ordinary circumstances a wife has no right or expectation of continuing economic parity … A clean break is to be encouraged wherever possible.”

Lady Hale said partners are expected to be self sufficient:

“the ultimate objective is to give each party an equal start on the road to independence” and what she refers to as self sufficiency. She emphasized that the court was seeking provision that enabled a gentle transition for the payee from the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage to the standard that he/she could expect as a self-sufficient individual.

These judgements indicate that the court has been moving for some time away from lifelong orders to a more considered approach of guiding the parties towards independence from one another and self sufficiency.

The Outcome of Wright vs. Wright

Whilst we have been moving away from lifelong orders what is interesting from the Wright case is the language used by the Judge – Lord Justice Pitchford – who said that Mrs Wright must “just get on with it” when he upheld the earlier court’s decision to set a tapered reduction of the personal maintenance payments over the next five years. The judge expects her to take steps to obtain employment like “vast numbers of other women with children.”

Lord Justice Pitchford was of the view that it was “imperative that the wife go out to work and support herself” and that “The time had come to recognise that, at the time of his retirement, the husband should not be paying spousal maintenance.”

“The wife had done nothing since 2008 to look for work, retrain or to prepare herself for work.” He continued that, “There is a general expectation that, once children are in year two, mothers can begin part-time work and make a financial contribution” and that, “the order was never intended to provide the wife with an income for life”.

What it Means for You

This case could be the signal for many men to return to court to have a review of their maintenance payments. To counter this it would be prudent for non-working spouses to consider their employment sooner rather than later as it seems that courts will be looking for non-earners to maximise their earning capacity.

It would appear that a court will take a dim view of any non earning spouse arriving at court having done nothing to seek employment and moving towards self sufficiency. At the very least they should register with a headhunter or employment agency. That way if a party is not able to obtain employment they will at least have some evidence with which to repel any suggestion that they are sitting on their backside and living off the fat of the land.

This judgement is not likely to affect the ultra wealthy where maintenance is not an issue as the capital provided is sufficient in itself, but could well affect the mass affluent.

Maintenance must cover immediate needs but must also encourage a spouse to become independent. A joint life order discourages independence and also discourages people getting on with their lives by marrying a new partner. Why would someone choose to marry a poorer person than their spouse when they will lose the benefit of their substantive maintenance order?

I am not for one moment suggesting that responsibility for looking after a former spouse and children be thrown onto the state and the starting point is that it must be correct for the income earning spouse to support their family. However the meal ticket for life may just have been cancelled.

Author: Jonathan West, Head of Family Law at Prolegal Solicitors. Jonathan has written many articles and commented in various publications such as The Times, The Independent, Baby and me, Huffington Post, 50 Connect and has even appeared on BBC Breakfast as a Family Law expert.

Affording a child in the UK – New research reveals growing child costs

Affording a child in the UK – New research reveals growing child costs

Raising a family can be expensive but, as we all know, it’s worth every penny. But whether you’re considering starting your own enterprise, reducing your work hours, returning to work or becoming a stay at home mum, you need to be aware of all the financial implications.

Aviva – the insurance company – recently ran a detailed study into the costs of raising a family in the UK. The research revealed that, on average, parents will have spent over £35,000 on their child by the time they reach the age of five. That’s more than £7,000 a year which is just over a third of the average UK salary. © normalityrelief

The Essentials for Working Parents

Kitting your life out with all the essentials necessary to raise a child is costly. Cots, push chairs, changing tables and childcare do not come cheap. According to Aviva’s survey results, the average parent spends just over £3,000 a year on essential items before any toys, school equipment or family trips out can be paid for.

Location, Location, Location

Parents from all over the UK took part in the survey which revealed a real North-South divide when it came to the cost of raising children. Your location can make a huge difference to just how much money you’ll need to spend over the course of your son or daughters infancy.

London based parents have a raw deal paying nearly £10,000 annually on their under 5s – more than double what it costs to raise a child in Wales (£4,220). Towns and cities in the North West also had relatively low child costs, in comparison with the South, with an average spend of just over £4,500 annually.

Keeping up appearances

As well as location, social pressures and keeping up appearances seemed to play a huge role in driving up the cost of raising a child. One in five parents who took part in the survey, said they often spend money on certain items for their children just to feel as though they’re keeping up with other families in their area.

Thinking ahead for Working Parents

Past the age of 5 child costs can increase significantly with school trips, educational equipment, pocket money and, eventually, university fees all becoming necessary spends. But there are parents around the country looking to the future with over half (52%) saying they have opening savings accounts in their children’s names before they turn five. It was also revealed that an extremely forward-thinking 8% have already started saving for a house deposit for their child. Just under half (42%) had taken out life insurance and one in five had made a will.

Of course, the rewards of raising a child vastly outweigh the costs over the years. But better to be prepared and to plan ahead to make sure it’s a smooth a ride as possible and you can provide for your children. If you’d like to take a look at how much you’re spend on your child in comparison to the national average, take a look at Aviva’s child cost calculator.

Author: Daniel Rawlings, copywriter and executive reporting on new survey data by Aviva UK. Full details of the recent child costs survey can be found here.

Is it possible to return to work after a career break at 50+?

Is it possible to return to work after a career break at 50+?

This is a question I discussed recently with Dr Ros Altmann, the UK Government’s Older Workers Business Champion. It is also a question I hear regularly from our Network, particularly those who have paused their career for health reasons or in order to look after elderly relatives.

While it might be true that some organisations fail to recognise the great value and benefit of hiring older workers, quite often the returners themselves are creating self-imposed barriers that need not exist. It is necessary to develop the right mindset where your age is to your advantage.

The women I speak to who are hoping to return to employment, regularly tell me that organisations are only looking for younger people or those who have worked their way up a career ladder. It is easy for them to fear that they are too old and too out of touch, to be considered employable. They worry that they won’t fit into the office environment and that their prior experience, expertise and qualifications are no longer relevant.

Instead of looking at what is missing from your CV, it is much more helpful to notice what your years of experience, both in and out of the workforce, have given you. As Michele (who found full-time work in her 50s, following a divorce) says:

‘I was attractive to my new employer because at my age I was reliable, I brought a wealth of different experiences which meant I could talk to anybody and I was serious about my work. At the same time, I wasn’t going to take his clients and set up on my own. And, I wasn’t going to get pregnant which made a big difference in a small company.’

A Harvard Business Review article, 3 years ago, which highlighted the concept of internships for returners mentions that such internships ‘… allow [companies] to hire people who have a level of maturity and experience not found in younger recruits and who are at a life stage where parental leaves and spousal relocations are most likely behind them. In short, these applicants are an excellent investment’. (HBR November 2012 ‘The 40-year-old intern’).

You may know that we have been working hard for the past two years to introduce such ‘internships for returners’ into the UK. Up to now, these programmes have mostly existed in the financial services sector but shortly more will be announced in a wholly new field and I hope there will be more during 2015.

It is also the case that the ‘internship for returners’ route is only one of many ways to return to work and I list below the links to other relevant articles we’ve published. However you plan to return, you can help yourself by remembering all the qualities described above and knowing that you offer future employers commitment and stability. You know you will stay a long time if you enjoy your work and are valued for what you bring to the organisation.

Dr Altmann has been tasked with making the case for older workers within the business community and challenging outdated perceptions. She will be reporting to the Government in March with her recommendations on what Government policy needs to be to enable older workers to continue to be productively employed. We hope that her work will help to dispel the fears of the over 50s that they are no longer employable and lead to more opportunities for older returners.

julianne&katerinaAuthor: Katerina Gould, from the blog Women Returners: Back to Your Future aka Julianne Miles and Katerina Gould, an occupational psychologist and an executive coach who support professional women to return to work after a long career break.