Category: Preparing yourself for your 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

Making The Most of Maternity Leave

Making The Most of Maternity Leave

When you’re counting down to the start of your maternity leave, and more importantly D-Day, it’s very easy to feel down. As your bump is still expanding and you’re really feeling like you’re going to pop, you just feel tired, swollen and a little bit scared.

You may even feel panicked that things still need to be done, but try and take some deep breaths (good practice for what’s to come) and enjoy this exciting time.

Not only are you about to finish work for a while, you are also going to have a wonderful bundle of joy to keep you occupied. Babies change so fast, so prepare to savour every moment!

Getting ready for Baby

If you feel as though you’re not organised before baby’s arrival, write a list of what needs to be done. Then prioritise everything. Some things can wait.

What to put on your list:

  • Somewhere for baby to sleep (e.g. Moses basket), baby blankets, sheets
  • Bottles, sterilising unit, formula (even if you plan to breast feed. You may need an emergency back up)
  • Your hospital bag with nightdress, nursing bras, maternity pads, big knickers, toiletries
  • Baby’s hospital bag with first size sleep suits, nappies, cotton wool, hat, going home outfit
  • Pram, car seat, baby basics such as baby bath

Just remember that anything else for baby can be bought after your baby is born, or you can ask family and friends for certain things.

Housework and decorating can also wait. The baby can easily sleep in your room for the first three to six months, so even their nursery can be put on hold if need be.

Me Time

You may not get an awful lot of ‘me time’, but there will be times when you can make the most of those quiet moments.

Before the baby is born do lots of relaxing. This means having plenty of long baths, hanging out in your PJ’s, sleeping as much as you can and getting people to run around after you!

When baby is here and you’re at home being overwhelmed with visitors, take full advantage. Let them take the baby, change the baby’s nappy, feed them (if you are using formula or expressed breast milk) and if you have family staying over night, let them take care of baby while you sleep in.

Allow your partner to get involved and accept any help offered. Make sure you are fully prepared for when hubby is back at work and it’s just the two of you.

Baby is Growing Fast!

Each moment with your baby is special. You’ll be taking plenty of photo’s and seeing how quickly they are changing. Every few weeks they are growing out of outfits and you are noticing milestones.

You may be reading books or articles of what your baby ‘should’ be doing week by week. When they finally do things, such as smiling, rolling over, sitting up, you can enjoy these moments. You have this time off work to see what baby is up to.

You may look back and feel a bit sad that baby isn’t so teeny-tiny anymore, but buying new outfits can be exciting. Baby clothes can be bought on a shoe string too (have a look in supermarkets, or the sale racks) which is a positive when you’re not earning.


If you’re handy with a knitting needle and wool, then making your own baby clothes will save you some money, as well as keeping you occupied when baby is asleep (unless you are sleeping too!).

In fact you can go all shabby chic by making new cushion covers or painting old furniture. When you’re at home every day, you might want to freshen things up. It’s cheaper than buying new.

If you do have the time and energy, now is also a good time to start up any old hobbies once again.

Sort Out Baby’s Social Life

Have a look online or information from your local children’s centres at what there is to do with baby. They’ll be plenty of baby groups to meet other Mum’s and chat with health visitor’s about any concerns you may have.

There might be alternative ideas, depending on your baby’s age and ability. Try music and singing groups or swimming clubs. Some groups are free, but others charge termly or an entrance fee.

You could also set up a group with the other Mum’s. Invite them round for coffee, then change location to someone else’s house or a baby-friendly coffee shop.

This is not just indulging. All of these contacts will come in handy once you have returned to work and you need some quick information about something baby-related. Besides, it’s good for your baby to learn to become flexible and get used to other people, locations and babies.

Get Some Pocket Money

Getting some extra cash always comes in handy, especially with a baby to buy for. Sell off your old stuff to make space in your home and make money. Use Facebook, Ebay or Gumtree to advertise your maternity clothes, pre-pregnancy clothes and baby clothes and toys.

If you did get handy with those crafts, there’s always Etsy to sell all things handmade.

Make Your Own Baby Food

When it comes to weaning, making your own baby food can be great fun. Get an ice cube tray to freeze batches of food and try out a number of flavours. You can try out the shop bought ones and re-create them at home. This way you are saving money, and making something you know baby likes!

Have a look on the internet or at baby recipe books for ideas.

Time To Go Back To Work?

Are you dreading the return to the grindstone? If the boring 9-5 you had isn’t filling you with excitement, then use this valuable time off to check out what else is available.

Get your CV and Linked In profile up to date and have a scout about at what is out there. If you need to brush up on a new skill, then see if you can do some research.

Of course, you can also get chatting to your new Mum friends and find out the companies they work for. There could be an opportunity for a fresh new start.

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.


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.

3 Careers That Fit Into School Hours

3 Careers That Fit Into School Hours

For many people it is hard when their children start school but for many mothers it is a time to think about re-starting work. But, with a little one to drop off at 8.30 and pick up at 3.00, it can be difficult to find a career that fits into school hours. That’s why I have hand-picked three of the top jobs that fit into school hours.

1. Teaching Assistant

Working in a school as a teaching assistant can allow you to have a rewarding workday that starts and begins at the same time as your children’s school day. In fact many parents who start jobs as teaching assistants do so in the same schools as their children. The great thing about being a teaching assistant is that you can have a fun, fulfilling job that does not come with the amount of stress and homework shouldered by a fully-fledged teacher. Then, when your kids have perhaps out-grown your supervision outside of school-hours, you may want to consider training as a teacher!

2. Carer

Working as a carer in your local community can offer you a profession that is just as variable and flexible as it is rewarding and fulfilling. Caring posts come in many different shapes and sizes from working in care homes, living in with patients or daily visits to local residents. Once you join a caring agency you undergo training in moving and handling, health and safety and food hygiene, and then you can start working whichever hours and in whichever areas you wish. Carers earn anywhere from minimum wage to £14.00 an hour depending on their experience.
To find out more about how you can get into a career in caring click here.

3. Librarian

Starting a career as a Librarian means you can work flexibly in your local community, universities, colleges or schools (including the ones your children attend) and have access to all the books you could want. Jobs like these are usually flexible shift-work, in a peaceful setting where you can earn a decent wage, especially if you happen to have a degree. Librarians can earn anything from £18K to £35K a year depending on experience. To learn more about working as a librarian in the education sector this article is a great place to start.

You can start searching for Librarian jobs here.

Author: Patrick Vernon is a free lance author who writes on behalf of other organisations, helping them share information and promote their products and services. This article was written on behalf of a UK jobsite. 

Advance preparation for your return to work

Advance preparation for your return to work

At the moment our household is in mid-exam crisis mode. With two teenagers sitting important exams, I’m supporting from the sidelines. Alongside making many cups of tea & stocking the constantly-emptying fridge, I’ve been doing what I can to help them to prepare. They’re completely focused on revision, so I’m stepping in for the practical side – finding the missing compass before the maths exam, stocking up with black biros & filling the water bottles. I’ve also been encouraging them to prepare mentally – positively channeling their adrenaline and discussing what to do if they have a crisis of confidence just before an exam or start panicking when they can’t answer the first question.

Advance preparation is similarly vital when you make the decision to get back to work: you need to start to prepare on three fronts – professional/technical, mental and practical.

Top tips:

1. Don’t wait for a job application or offer before you start to prepare

2. You may not have your mum to help you out, but do prioritise finding your own sources of emotional and practical support.

Professional/technical preparation

Bring your knowledge back up-to-date. Re-subscribe to professional journals, read related press, take update/refresher courses if you need to. Go to seminars & conferences. Meet up with ex-colleagues and talk shop again. Remind yourself of the old jargon and learn the new.

Mental preparation

For returning mothers, this is the moment to address any looming guilt feelings about leaving your children – as we’ve said many times on this blog, there is no need to feel guilty for working (see here for advice).

Remind yourself of your motivations for returning and the positive rewards for you and the family: studies have shown that if we focus on the positive aspects of combining work and family life, we’re much more likely to feel good about our work-life balance, and to overcome any challenges, than if we focus on potential work-life conflict.

Increase your energy and enthusiasm for your return by spending time with the people who are encouraging you to make this change, rather than those who are questioning or critical of your decision. Also take steps to build your confidence; don’t discount yourself and what you can offer (see here for confidence tips).

Practical preparation

Make time for your return by giving up other activities, such as volunteering work that isn’t using your professional skills. Get practiced at saying ‘no’ to free up your day. Start to delegate more to your children and encourage their independence. If you’re the default taxi driver, still ferrying your older children around, let them get used to public transport. Same with your partner, if you have one – start to hand over and share out more of the home responsibilities.

Build your practical support networks. If you need to sort childcare, it’s worth planning this as far in advance as possible. Don’t wait until you have the job offer! And start to contingency plan too – work out what will be your back-up for your back-up childcare before the inevitable problems arise – line up other mothers & local grannies/students. If you don’t have a cleaner, get recommendations now so you can avoid spending all your free time doing housework when you’re back at work.

Think carefully about how work can fit with your life. Map out a balanced work week for you. When do you want/need to be at home & what for? And critically, work out what you are not going to do any more at home. What can you let go of or delegate? Don’t be the mother sewing a fancy-dress costume at 2am when a cheap bought or borrowed one will do just as well. You’ll need to be flexible about how this might pan out once you get into job discussions, but being clearer on your non-negotiables will help you to target the right opportunities.

If you’re also a mother who tells your children the benefits of not leaving everything until the last minute, this is the moment to practice what you preach!

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.

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.