As we struck our second birthday here at Goal Digger, I thought what better way to celebrate than write a blog on real-life! I was recently asked to write a piece by Baby Sleep Consultants to help other mums and dads who are considering the return to work make that choice, to alleviate some of the worries, guilt and oppression and how to just survive!
It’s all roses (or is it?) until it is time to start thinking about reintegrating into the world that you once lived in pre-children. For some, this is such an exciting prospect and for others, they dread it. For me, it was both. With my first daughter I longed to get back into the world of adult conversation that didn’t revolve around poo and sleep patterns (although sleep is SO important for everyone). I wanted to gain back my sense of purpose (not that having a gorgeous baby didn’t give me purpose, it did), but homemaker wasn’t enough for me and that’s ok.
Call me what you like, but I wanted to go back to work. When I was finally getting the hang of the parenting, my parental leave was up and I was contracted to go back into my full-time role that included a lot of travel, oh and I had to commute to another city to do it! In my first meeting planning my return to work, I cried like a baby (mirror neurons maybe?) and on my first day back, I cried for the full 50 minutes of my commute – full on ugly crying.
You see, I felt like a part of me was lost when I paused my career to do the “mum gig”. But when I went back to work, for those first few weeks I felt like another part of me was lost, the part where I am supposed to be mum 24/7. Here’s my take, and it’s not for everyone. Once we all got over the initial shock of the insanely regimented days and the mental exhaustion of managing a tiny person’s calendar and mine, I got to like it. And then the first sick day happened.
Who do you disappoint? (You are going to feel guilty either way). Your child who wants their mum, or, do you disappoint your colleagues, your bosses and your clients? I haven’t got the answer for this one, the work, life and family balance is permanently going to be a disaster from now on (sorry, did nobody tell you that?).
GUILT TRAP TIPS:
- Ensure you discuss with your partner and your family/friends who are going to support you just how you will cope with sick days.
- If you and your partner both have sick leave and annual leave entitlements, work out how you will manage who takes leave and when, WHEN the sick days happen.
- Approach sick leave as a team if possible. The last thing you want to do is to start impacting your work too much if you are constantly away.
- Get your household sleep situation sorted! Nobody is going to survive if you are all up and down throughout the night and then have to go to work/childcare. From personal experience, use a certified baby sleep consultant to sort out your child/toddler sleep routines – you won’t regret it!
- If you have not integrated your child into childcare before you start work, expect a deluge of germs and bugs to attack your child like a small disgusting army for the first year of childcare (or school).
The Childcare Situation
Well, this seems like one of the hardest decisions to make. Au Pair, daycare, home-based care, location, reputation, fees, do they make lunches… and it goes on. You are no doubt going to get no end of advice from other parents, whether you like it or not!
Let’s cover the pros and cons of your child going into a daycare situation if you want or need to return to work (or if you want time out for yourself!). You need to make the decision that is right for you, go with your gut and your practical head!
- Sounds awful, but, what if there just so happened to be a situation where you couldn’t be the number one carer for your child for any length of time? Knowing that they are safe and feel secure in the care of other adults is a really important thing.
- Socialisation. At some point, your wee one will go to school. Every child is different, but I do see advantages in more advanced social skills assisting in that settling in period and in general, being able to cope in new environments. It also expands your social network too!
- They get most of the bugs out of the way, so that when the little tackers start school, most have already been there, done that, illness doesn’t impact as much in that first year of school (generally).
- Let’s face it, kids love structure. It allows them to feel like they have some control over what happens throughout their day. They feel less anxious knowing what comes next and they learn to sit still and focus.
- Prepared for learning. A good majority of pre-school care situations have an early childhood learning focus. I loved that I didn’t have to teach my daughters letters and how to spell and write their names (not that they need to be able to do this when they start school, but cool party trick!). I love that they don’t have to learn everything from me, it expands their horizons and diversity in their lives.
- If you are going to return to work, ensure you have accurately worked out what you are going to be spending on childcare and have a clear picture of whether working vs. not working is going to stack up financially. In most situations, you also pay when your child is sick.
- They get sick. They are exposed to other little tackers and what their older siblings bring home from school. Additionally:
- You will get sick.
- You will get the guilt’s. (See previous rant).
All this boils down to one thing, let this be the best piece of advice from a non-expert you will ever receive:
Do what works for you and your family. Your child is here for the first time and they haven’t developed the intellect as yet to compare their personal circumstances to their peers. They don’t know any different! Rock on parents! (You’re welcome).
Marketing Yourself: Tips for Supermums and Superdads reentering the workforce
From an HR perspective, there are do’s and don’ts when you are applying for a new job in your life after kids.
The things you can’t do:
- Lie about your end date with your previous employer. To avoid having a gap in their CV, we have had many candidates fudge the end date of employment when they left their previous role to be a stay at home parent. You will be reference checked and you may even be questioned yourself. Don’t get egg on your face.
- Contract yourself to hours that are unachievable. Might sound simple, but all too often, parents returning to work are frightened to miss out on an opportunity that they get locked in to hours that they cannot sustain. For example, 9am-4pm, when childcare finishes at 4pm.
The things you should do:
- Ensure your CV is 150% up-to-date. If you have been out of paid work for quite some time, please make sure your CV is relevant, modern and fits the purpose of the role you are going for. Spend some time on it or get some professional advice.
- Explain gaps in your CV. If you have a gap in your CV where you have taken time out to be a stay at home parent, state it. If you have been involved in other things whilst out of your ‘career role’ or paid employment, you might wish to add those. For example, you might have served on the PTA, been involved in some sports associations, or studied.
- Appear for interviews as if you are ready for work. Again, this might sound simple, but, I know all too well how easy it is to become comfortable in a ‘mum wardrobe’ of jeans and tops… just take a moment to remember how your previous self used to get dressed for work. It will help with your confidence as well.
The things your potential employer shouldn’t do:
- Question you about your intention to have more kids. This is a no-no and is no reflection of whether you can do the job. If you want to drop into the interview that you have finished your family (if you have), then sure, you might find the right time to do that. But, you cannot be asked outright.
- Your relationship status. You don’t have to state it in your CV and you can’t be asked about it either.
- If you are looking to get back into work, ensure you have what you need to get yourself through a recruitment process:
- An email address with the same name that is reflected on your CV and application form (please update your married name if you are now going by a new name so your name matches on all documents and emails)
- A computer, or access to one so that you can regularly check your emails and carry out any psychometric and skills testing.
- An answerphone message that is suitable.
- Make sure you take all calls privately. I don’t know about you, but my kids are exceptional at picking the exact right moment to declare war or to suddenly require a drink, a sandwich or an ambulance. As a suggestion, let unknown calls go to voicemail and pick the right moment to call back without interruption.
If you feel like you need a shove in the right direction, we’re more than happy to help you out here at Goal Digger. Interview coaching, CV writing, employment advice, career counselling… we have you covered. And we get it parents, we really do! www.goaldigger.co.nz
If you need help to get your baby sleeping through the night, so you can recharge yourself, check out www.babysleepconsultant.co.nz
© Goal Digger Career Solutions 2017