Do you wholeheartedly believe in your “mission”?
Belief is crucial to achieving any goal. It determines your level of confidence and commitment, which in turn influences the outcomes you yield.
Therefore, if you are a stay-at-home mother wanting to re-enter the workforce, it may be worthwhile to spend some time first examining your beliefs around what you’re aiming to achieve. Are you ambivalent about the idea, or do you see challenges ahead that you fear you cannot overcome? Identifying and tackling your fears up-front will help you feel totally committed to your goal.
So what are the common sorts of doubts return-to-work mothers have?
Lack of confidence
You may worry about whether you have something to offer as you have been out of the workforce for a considerable time. For some professions, you don’t actually have to be away for that long to start feeling out of touch.
Two ways to tackle this fear are to update your skills and to find out what is happening in your industry. “Google” your field of work to get the latest developments and see how it has changed. Check out the job listings and examine the essential criteria, paying particular attention to skills that you can update. Has what you are familiar with been superseded?
Updating your skills, talking to the course teacher and other course participants can also give you valuable insights. You will gain confidence from knowing that your skills are current.
Fear of change
Do you worry about the changes that going back to work will bring? That’s normal. Any new change is stressful as you negotiate around what you need to learn and how you will incorporate it with everything else in your life.
Remember back when your child came into the world? It was a steep learning curve wasn’t it? However, somehow you managed it. Know that within yourself you will find the resources that will help you to thrive in your endeavour. Ask others for their tips. People that have done it before will be only too happy to pass on what they know.
Fear of having to take a step backwards
It’s not unusual to rejoin at a lower rung on the ladder when you are re-entering the workforce. It can be sad to accept that you may have to prove yourself again, but don’t think it’s a reflection on your abilities. It’s only natural that your former peers have advanced in your absence and are now ahead of you in seniority and salary, which are after-all commensurate with skills and experience, not age.
If it has been a while since you have worked, be prepared to accept the possibility that your new boss may be younger than you! The workplace has changed. No longer are promotions solely based on years of service. This can actually work to your advantage because it means that you can re-establish your rank more quickly.
If you’re not willing to wait, perhaps you could consider going into business for yourself. You may have terrific skills that you can bring to a new venture. This will give you the freedom to be your own boss and the satisfaction of being in control of what you undertake.
Missing your child’s developmental milestones
There is no hard and fast answer here. You have to weigh up your desire to work for financial and personal reasons against why you would prefer to be at home.
Just realise that sometimes there may be a need that overrides your preference. If that’s the case, remember that finding an acceptance of your situation for now and working towards making a change will be more positive for you in the long run.
If you are struggling coming to terms with the likelihood of missing your child’s “firsts”, keep in mind that that can happen even if you’re at home. You can’t guarantee you’ll be present when they walk their first steps or utter their first words no matter how much you try. It’s better if you can simply be satisfied with the first time you yourself witness each of their developmental milestones instead! This will allow you to enjoy watching your child grow up regardless because it’s not dependent on events happening according to a preconceived plan.
Who will take care of things at home
It is harder to run a household if you are working, but it can be done. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have your family pull their weight and not rely on you to run everything. More responsibility can be given to older children and teens. That is good for their maturity, anyway. Let them do simple chores, and don’t scold if they are done differently to how you do it!
You have to do a few simple things: get help with the housework, either through paid help or help from your partner and other family members; let go of some of your non-essential commitments and your high standards of your home being perfect all the time. You can catch up on the weekend.
If you want to go back to work, don’t let fear of your family suffering without you hold you back. It will be an adjustment, but stretching their resourcefulness will do them good.
Fear that work will take over
This is a complaint not unique to return-to-work mothers. Workplaces can be demanding. It is easy to fall into the trap of over-committing and allowing work to encroach on your family and personal time. Work/life balance can be a very big issue, but conscious awareness and having strategies in place to deal with it will help.
Your working arrangements and demands, such as limiting long-distance travel, overtime, and the amount of work to be completed from home, needs to be negotiated up-front with your employer.
Be clear on what type of occasions you are willing to make exceptions to help the organisation, though make sure that it’s understood that exceptions for extended periods are not acceptable. Sometimes, being part of a special event at work can be fun, even if it means that you’ll have to work harder for a time.
If you are clear on where you stand on these issues you will feel ready to charge ahead and re-enter the workforce with confidence. Should you are having trouble with any of these obstacles I would be happy to help. Just book a free 20 minute consultation and we can discuss your particular circumstances further.