Occupational Psychologist Sarah Turner discusses this key issue for many women.
Returning to the workplace after maternity leave or a career break to raise your family can be a daunting task. Whether you are returning to your previous employer or moving into a new organisation, it can be challenging to re-acquaint yourself with your professional identity.
You may have taken a break of several months or a few years. As one client put it: “I am not sure why anyone would pay me to do something given that I have been out of the workplace for a few years”.
It goes without saying that some of the practical considerations such as finding suitable childcare, and negotiating acceptable working hours are critical to get right from the start. But in preparation for your transition back into the workplace try visioning yourself a year from now. What do you look like? How are you juggling home and work life? How are your children doing? How is your work going? How are you feeling? Looking into the future, and seeing yourself successfully managing your new working Mum status can be exciting, and inspiring. If you like, you could write about it or even make a collage to represent a visual goal to work towards.
Next try to take this vision one step further. Think about a successful working Mum that you know of. It could be a celebrity or someone well known for running a business and successfully combining this with raising young children. Once you have identified someone, imagine yourself having a conversation with her. What advice would she have to share with you? Note this down.
Finally, dwelling on the negatives of the situation i.e. the reasons why returning to work might be just a little intimidating, will only drag your confidence levels down even further. Instead, focus your thoughts on the positives and the opportunities that are open to you. Ask yourself what is possible from here? What could I gain? What do I have to offer my employer now?