I know that coming back to work after maternity or paternity leave can be daunting. As a working mum to four young children, I’m always keen to do what I can to share my experiences and advice for any parent who is coming back to work.
I have been lucky enough to join Futureheads recently, but I hope these tips will come in handy, whether you’re starting a new role or returning to your pre-parental position.
Don’t be scared to get out there
Have confidence – even if you have to fake it. Your skills really are like riding a bike. When I returned to work, I found getting back into the job itself was straightforward, but I had to get used to the systems a bit! No two IT sets ups are the same, so whether you’re joining a new team, or have been away from your previous team for some time, you are likely to have a bit of a learning curve. But remember that this is the case in any new role.
Remind yourself that you’re good at what you do but expect a few flustered moments when you start or return to work – this is completely normal.
You’ll need to stay focused, plan your day and organise your time effectively. Being a parent and being a recruiter both require lots of forwarding thinking, so you’ll never find me far away from my to-do list.
Embrace the office
I think it’s useful to draw a clear line between work time and family time. Keep some distance between your two worlds. Keeping your emotions clear at work allows you to focus. And there is nothing better than proving yourself at work – this was a great confidence boost for me.
If I could give you just one piece of advice, I’d say that you should enjoy being where you are. If you’re at work, enjoy your work and being a professional. If you’re home, focus on being a parent and part of the family.
Feel the power
It’s an amazing feeling to be independent and earn your own money. Working after becoming a parent has been so important in maintaining my identity. Being a mum or dad is the most important role you’ll ever have, but it’s nice to be you as well.
One of the great and often forgotten things about going to an office is that you get to indulge in the kind of me time that you can miss out on as a parent. This might be having a nice coffee with some adult conversation, getting dressed up to meet a client – or even just getting through a few hours without listening to the Peppa Pig soundtrack.
No one expects miracles, but it’s very important to be clear on what you can deliver from the beginning. Under-promising is way better than over-promising. Be realistic, especially while you’re establishing your new routine.
Sometimes I’m asked whether you should you keep an eye on your work while you’re on leave? I say no. Be a parent – and enjoy it.
What happens when parent stuff comes up?
As a mother to four young kids, I know that sometimes your kids demand your attention, usually at the worst moments.
I would sit down with your manager early, to make sure both parties understand how best to handle any situations like this should they arise. I’d also say it’s important to keep the lines of communication as open as you can. Life happens, but doing your best to keep your team in the loop can make a world of difference.
Work with your employer
Employers might be very sympathetic to parents in the workplace, but this does not necessarily mean they will get everything right. Some may have never had to deal with employing a parent before. In the unlikely event you have a problem, check what your rights are, and don’t stay in a situation that doesn’t work for you.
The right environment for you is out there – I’m a testament to that.
I work part-time at Futureheads (which is pretty rare in recruitment), and I have genuinely felt really supported – and it’s great to work for a company with so many parents in their ranks, there’s a real sense of community for us mums and dads here. They also recently won a Great Place to Work award for being a great employer for women.
I hope you’ve found some useful takeaways from this blog, and I’m always happy to chat – whether you’d like to know more about working at Futureheads or you would like any advice on balancing work and parenthood.
Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org