I found going back to work after having kids really hard. Trying to manage work, the kids, the house – trying to juggle it all – was, I’ll be honest, hell. I was constantly drained (mentally and physically), stressed, ratty and I felt guilty a lot of the time.
After maternity leave (6 months), I went back to work. Even though I returned to the same role, my confidence wobbled. I just didn’t feel as self-assured and wondered whether I could still do my job properly.
Being a new mum was harder than I thought. Some days I felt in control and as though I knew what I was doing but more often than not I felt overwhelmed and inadequate.
And I think all these feelings – being overwhelmed, feeling inadequate, loss of identity (it took a while to adjust to my mum-identity) – spilled over into my work-life.
Confidence Tips For Going Back To Work
Going back to work after having taken time out – whether it’s 6 months or 6 years – is nerve-wracking. And I know from talking to other women, that many have felt the same way as I did, above.
Below are some tips and advice from some working mums on dealing with that confidence dip that you may be feeling.
Hopefully some of their tips will help you to make the transition back to work that little bit easier. Here’s what they said (I like number 8 – how true is it!):
- Put Fear to The Back of Your Mind: ‘Please remember that many of us have been in the position of feeling scared, nervous and unsure. And many of us have overcome our fears and found that it’s not as scary out there as we thought. Believe me, it’s not. You just have to get out there and put fear to the back of your mind.’
- Control Your Mind: ‘Most of the time, I’m the one who makes me feel bad about myself. I’m the one who is saying to myself you’re not as good as you used to be and it’s all rubbish really. You’re just as good as you used to be – better, in fact. Start controlling your mind and start swapping the negative thoughts for positive ones.’
- Remind Yourself of Your Achievements: ‘If you’re struggling with confidence, remind yourself of what you have achieved in your career so far. Often writing things down helps you to remember. Make a list. Look over your CV. You have probably achieved a lot more than you are giving yourself credit for. No-one can take your experience and your achievements away from you – you just need to remind yourself.’
- Ditch Perfection and Guilt: ‘Stop trying to do everything perfectly as you’ll end up exhausted. Realise that some days you’ll feel great and some days you’ll feel useless. Don’t beat yourself up. And stop feeling guilty about everything!’
- Speak to Others: ‘Speak to other mums at your workplace about their experiences. It’s good to hear that others have felt the same way as you’re feeling.’
- Be Forgiving with Yourself: ‘Be patient and forgiving with yourself. Stop giving yourself a hard time. Get comfortable with feeling like you are not giving your all to anything.’
- Keep Your Mind Active, Be Comfortable, Sort the Childcare Out: ‘Try and keep your mind active and generally keep up with what is happening in the world, even if it’s just reading a newspaper on a regular basis. Make sure that you feel comfortable and happy with what you are wearing. Ensure that you have adequate childcare in place so that you are not worrying about the children when at work. Do not talk too much about the children as other people may not want to hear.’
- You’re Still You: ‘You are still the same woman just with more balls to juggle.’
- Multi-Tasker Extraordinaire: ‘Once you have children you become an amazing multi-tasker, who can effortlessly prioritise what needs to be done.’
- Enjoy: ‘Enjoy your me-time. I’ve always looked at work as a rest which is ironic because I can be on my feet for 18 hours a day.’
- Remember You Got the Job: ‘A good friend told me you were offered the job, so already you are better than most.’
- Empower and Believe: ‘Empower yourself with knowledge before returning to ensure you fill in the gaps. Brush up on key skills, reading etc. Above all believe in your abilities and remember that a large quantity of the workforce are parents too and know how you feel.’
- Work out Your Priorities: ‘Work out your priorities and why you had kids in the first place. If you can bear to do a stress-free job to give your all to your kids, then do it. If you want to carry on having a meaningful career and be a good mum as well, something will have to give somewhere. It’s about working out your priorities and being able to live with them.’
- Practicalities: ‘On a practical level, get a good support network in place for you and your kids. Get a backup plan in place too for when the kids are ill. Can your mum help out? Can you work from home? Make sure your husband shares the burden.’
- Don’t Fall Into The Trap Of Doing Everything: ‘Have a conversation with your husband before you go back to work about who is going to do what at home. You can’t start work and still look after the house, the childcare etc. Many of us fall into this trap and it kills you. Agree who is doing the food shopping, cooking, washing etc.’
And whilst 14 and 15 are more to do with practicalities, there is an indirect link to confidence (for me, anyway). It’s to do with peace of mind. Knowing that you have a support network in place. Knowing that someone is at home cooking the tea. Knowing that my husband can pick up the kids if needed.
This all feeds into calmness of mind and when I’m calm in my mind, I can control my thoughts much more easily. I’m more aware of what I’m thinking and can change a negative thought into a more positive one – which helps with my confidence levels.
Have you gone back to work after having had time off? How did you find it? Let me know, email me at email@example.com.