So many mums I speak to feel overwhelmed at the thought of going back to work after maternity leave. The main cause of this seems to be confidence – or rather lack of it, alongside the availability of flexible work and childcare difficulties. Trying to manage work, the kids the house and juggle it all can be difficult and leave you feeling drained, stressed and predominantly guilty most of the time. As a new mum, sometimes you feel in total control but more often than not feelings of inadequacy, unease and overwhelming sensations take over. There are so many reasons you might lose confidence prior to your return to work, have a read on if some of these sound familiar:
Your priorities have changed: you’re family is now ultimately your highest priority and you are concerned with whether you’ll be able to manage taking on work again while maintaining the family life you have become used to.
You’ve forgotten what you used to know: while it seems overwhelmingly impossible to think about the skills that used to come so natural – they are still there! You might just need to dig a little deeper to refresh your memory..
Becoming overly self – critical – it’s s easy as a mum (particularly a first timer) to feel doubt and uneasy about our parenting skills. Maybe you’re comparing yourself to another mother you know and it’s not working out quite right. This is highly due to lack of feedback and the absence of positive messages that used to surround you in an office environment to ensure you’re on the right track. Most of the time we are the ones putting unnecessary stress and negative thoughts on ourselves.
Regaining your confidence requires you to challenge the reasons that are affecting you. It can be really helpful to focus on the things we feel less confident about so we are able to pinpoint the problem area and begin the process of rebuilding.
Regaining identity: having a child doesn’t mean you cannot be your own person. Find new activities that express you and who you are – this might be learning a new skill, volunteering your time, meeting up with friends etc.
Put fear to the back of your mind – Remember you are not alone. There are plenty of us out there who have been nervous, scared and unsure when it’s all turned out a lot better than expected, stick in there!
Accepting priorities have changed – You may not go back to the exact role or exact hours that you did before (although it’s certainly possible) but you will definitely in time become more comfortable and confident fulfilling a role that satisfies your needs.
Ask for feedback/ advice – There are hundreds of us mothers out there who have made the transition from stay at home mum back to working life, reach out and don’t be araid to ask for advice.
Remind yourself of your achievements – No – one can take what you’ve achieved and experienced away from you. Take a little time to remind yourself just how you got here and just how great you are doing.
Make some time for yourself – carve out some space just for you to get on with some things that make you feel good about yourself.. Regular exercise, spending time with loved ones, learning something new are all examples.
Whether you’re at the end of your maternity leave or you’ve taken a career break at least one of the above reasons will most likely apply to you. Having children completely changes your life so thinking about returning to work and putting yourself first can make you feel guilty as a parent, but it shouldn’t! Returning to work should be fun, liberating and most importantly make you feel like you!