Women have crashed through prejudices in the last 25 years, but some of us have chosen happiness over hard-won careers.
Category: Returning to Work after Maternity Leave
I am a Nutritional Therapist, specialising in women and children. I am planning for my business to grow up alongside my own two children. I love my job, but it wasn’t always like that. Let me tell you how it all started.
Becoming a mother – working part-time
Despite being told I may never be able to conceive I fell pregnant the first time we tried. That was of course, the moment I had just started my dream job in marketing for a blue chip company. For the first time in my career I was working for a great boss, in a great team, working with great brands and managing exciting projects. The timing wasn’t perfect!
I returned to work when my son was 7 months old, back into my old, supportive team but working three days a week, and it was great for about 12 months.
However, I changed jobs in the company, work pressure increased and my boss was very unsupportive. On top of that I had a miscarriage.
I was very lucky to become pregnant again four months later. I had accrued family leave which enabled me to stop work when I was 5 months pregnant.
Due to personal experience I have developed a strong passion for the power of food over our health. I used my extra time at home to research my options of making this passion into a living. I found the right part-time course and when Henry was 9 months old I started my foundation year.
My plan was to study part-time and return to work. But it turned out that fate was on my side, and I was made redundant when Henry was one year old, which gave me the means to fund my training for the next three years.
Studying and childcare
Juggling childcare and studying proved to be fairly straight forward for me, and as the demands of my course grew, so did the childcare provision for Henry. There is a three and a half year age gap between my children, so when I started my course Joseph was in full-time school and Henry was just 9 months old. The demands of my first year of study were fairly minor, and I did a childcare swap with a friend one morning a week. She had a little boy who was a year older than Henry, and this worked really well for a year. In my second year a friend’s Nanny looked after Henry two mornings a week. By my third year, when the study time required was greater, Henry went to pre-school three mornings a week, and then in my final year he was in school nursery for 5 mornings a week. The timing couldn’t have been better.
In addition I would study in the evenings, and my partner is a very hands on dad so he looked forward to my study weekends, planning adventures with the boys.
My own business and childcare
The timing of my redundancy and study happened to be perfect, when Henry started Reception, I had graduated and was setting up my own business.
With both boys in school, and one day a week in after school club, I have enough time for my business and can offer clients later appointments one day a week. I also offer consultations on Saturday mornings, and this coincides with my partner taking the boys to their football lessons.
I am lucky to have a great network of friends who are also mums, and we all help each other out, which is a good back-up for unforeseen events.
I love working for myself – it’s so rewarding, challenging and exciting to see my business grow. Networking gives me my social contacts. Networking used the terrify me, but now I run my own network of local therapists; run a networking event of my own (Nutritious Networking), belong to Athena and Ladies at 11. My employed friends think I’m the queen of networking!
My key challenge is balancing ambition with what is actually achievable in the time that I have. I am someone who has lots of ideas, and I am constantly presented with new opportunities, but have to balance the time I can devote to my business, and the time that I want to spend with my family
One of my key principles is that I want to be able to pick my children up from school. I want to walk them home and give them their tea, and find out how their days went.
Making it work financially
I funded the start-up myself, and as I work from home this wasn’t a huge investment. I made a small loss in my first year of trading and in my second year I made a small profit, but increased my turnover by 500%. I expect that during this third year of trading that I will earn enough money to contribute to the family income – signs are good so far.
I have discovered that I need to have a number of income streams to make my business financially viable. As a result, as well as my core business of seeing clients on a one to one basis, I run weight loss classes (zest4life), host a networking event (Nutritious Networking), and work on a freelance basis for a branding agency on food brands drawing on my marketing skills and nutritional knowledge.
I know it’s early days, but I have ambitious plans for the future. I would like to open a holistic health centre, a one stop shop for all your health needs – with a store, clinic rooms offering a wide range of therapies, a workshop space and a healthy café.
I’m planning for my business to grow up alongside my children – as their need for my time diminishes, the more time and energy I will have to devote to my business.
Author: Emily Fawell, founder of 4Well People and zest4life weight loss coach, mother of 2 boys under ten.
Prepare for going back to work after a career-break or maternity leave. It will help you feel in control and take the stress away. Here’s how to make returning to work more pleasant and joyful for you and your family.
- Childcare. The number one worry that needs to be sorted. Whether you choose nursery, nanny, childminder, you will make the decision that is suitable for your circumstances. nb
However, flexibility in timings is essential. You can’t control train delays or last-minute emergency meetings, and knowing that you can be home later, or pick up at a different time will be a great reassurance. Sometimes a backup plan with a babysitter or next door’s au-pair might just do the trick. It is worthwhile thinking through all scenarios and making arrangements for the unexpected. It will give you peace of mind.Define your three most important roles in life. It could be mum, professional and partner/friend. Explore how much time you need to play each role in order to be happy. Then put a system in place, that will help you to balance the roles. Remember, if you are a happy and balanced person, everybody in your environment will benefit.
- Put boundaries in place, communicate clearly about those and stick to them. Once you know what is a good balance for you, talk it through with all parties involved. What are the numbers of hours you want to work? How many are you expected to? When is your quality time with the kids? Allow for dedicated time, which is not taken up by something or someone else. Equally, with partner or friends. You may appear rude and uncaring when you don’t immediately respond to a request, but a boss, a child and a friend can usually wait if they know you will be there for them at the agreed time. With boundaries clear, play one role at the time; be the professional at work; be the mum at home; be yourself with friends and partners. The clarity this brings will help to guard your defined balance and your happiness.
- Let go of perfectionism. With so many balls in the air, things are not going to be perfect and do not need to be. If internet shopping offers you an extra three hours of free time, embrace the free time and accept that your apples were not your first choice brand. Let the house be less organised, because the nice weather allowed some great time in the park….
- Learn to de-stress. A busy life requires concentration, alertness and focus. This can easily turn into tension and nervousness, but with the right relaxation in place, you will be able to prevent that. Learn to do short meditations that you can practice a few times a day, perhaps find a Zumba class or take up piano lessons.
- Look at life as ‘work in progress’; and an ‘ever changing process’ with a positive attitude. What works today, may not be effective in a month time. Even if all systems are working, keep on top and make changes when you need to. If you are going through a tough patch, don’t forget it is temporary.
- Above all: don’t lose track of the most important emotion FUN. Laugh about situations and misunderstandings. Find that lightness and let it shine through. It will make you and everyone around you feel lighter and happier.
And that is ultimately what we are all after: stress free and fulfilling happiness with our loved ones.
Author: Dr Mariette Jansen MBACP, Stress management coach and meditation teacher. She offers face to face, Skype and e-mail support and enjoys working with groups as well. nb
How will you juggle dressing for baby and work – keeping your wardrobe professional and on trend while showing you’ve not turned all mumsy?
For many women becoming a mum can mean putting on weight, a change in body shape, a change in lifestyle and a whole new identity – all of which can both knock your self-esteem and present a number of style dilemmas when you’re going back to work. You may think you’ll just wear your pre-pregnancy clothes, but are they actually right for the new you?
Just as you didn’t put the baby weight on overnight, you’re not going to lose it overnight.
Embrace your post-baby body and find clothes that make you feel beautiful and confident.
As a mum you need a very specific wardrobe – one that allows quick and easy feeding, is easy to move in, is machine washable, and flatters your new figure.
Learn what styles will flatter and fit your new body shape and clarify what you really want from your work wardrobe.
A new capsule wardrobe in flattering colours will make it quick and easy to choose a stylish and practical outfit each day. Avoid those colours which make you look tired or bloated and create complete outfits for different occasions such as the run to the child-minder, business meetings or evenings out (should you have the energy for them!).
Perhaps develop your personal style by focussing on a more refined image and investing in key pieces for a more sophisticated wardrobe.
Essential items may include a knee-length skirt, colourful blouses or tops, a simple fitted day-dress (a soft, knit wrap dress will grow with you during pregnancy and shrink with you after it), stylish and flattering trousers and a tailored jacket. Waterfall or open cardigans make excellent transition pieces between your pregnancy and maternity leave, when they can be worn with a pair of leggings, and back to work when they can double as a comfortable or dressed down jacket. Just add a pair of oversized earrings or some chunky bracelets for a night out.
Classic accessories such as a functional leather bag – large enough to hold files, your phone and laptop or iPad – soft leather or patent pumps or kitten heels and long print scarves that you can wear long and loose around your neck to hide any post-baby bloat will all add to your new personal style.
Most importantly buy outfits that fit you now. Not maternity clothes, but larger sized clothes, if you need to, that you feel comfortable in. Don’t think about the size. You’ll get back to your old size someday… or maybe you won’t. As long as you feel comfortable and confident with the new you, you’ll shine.
Finally treat yourself to a new hairstyle and update your makeup to a look that is natural, polished and quick to apply.
Rachel Lynch is the owner of Personal Best Colour and Image Consultancy (www.personalbest-image.co.uk). If you want to find out how to dress in the most flattering way to create presence or a signature style spend some time with Personal Best – because women who look fabulous don’t leave their personal brand to chance.
There is no more profound a career change than the transition from woman to mother. It’s a life-changing event that’s difficult to top. Motherhood impacts every facet of our lives, and for most of us ‘work hard, play hard’ becomes a long and distant memory.
Read the full article by Leigh Hunt on Careershifters.org
Image attribution: Morganl, istockphoto.com
I recently ran a workshop with 12 women, 12 mothers to be precise, and my was it a joy, for all of us. A joy of recognition. I felt I had personally struggled to find a way to make motherhood work for me. It had certainly been an interesting journey, with highs and lows. But, why had it been such a difficult one?
What do you really want? What is your life’s passion? Many people find it hard to know where to start thinking. I certainly do, and if I am not careful I will just spend endless time wondering what it really is I want to do, not ever getting anywhere.
Lots of mums that gave up their career, do feel grief for lost status and independence. This became apparent once more when a thread with this title shot to one of the most active discussions on Mumsnet last summer.
Read discussion thread on mumsnet - Mumsnet Talk – Topic: Going back to work – July 2010