What I remember most about my first day as a working mum was the overwhelming feeling of being a fraud and that someone was going to discover I was not who I used to be. I only had eight months away from work but it felt like a lifetime. It felt like I had lost all of my skills and on top of that I now had a son to think (and worry) about.
When I first returned to my corporate job after starting a family it all felt like an uphill battle: emotional daycare drop offs, working part time, regaining my self-confidence as a professional career woman with the added worries of a mum, sick and carer’s leave, finding time for myself, feeling unreliable as a professional, struggling to get household chores done, finding time for my other half and romance…. the list of challenges and fears goes on.
Becoming a mother had changed me, particularly who I was as a professional, and it took me a few months to recalibrate. I wanted to have both a career and a family. At the same time. On my terms. I also felt as though nothing had prepared me for this new phase of my life as a working mum. I was the first of my friends to embark on this life stage.
About a year after I had become a working mum, I sat in my ensuite bathroom feverishly writing in a notebook. Hubby was asleep in the bedroom next door and my one year old son was asleep in his bedroom. It was 10pm at night and the words poured out of my head and into the notebook. It was the story of my return to work. All the challenges I faced and lessons I learnt.
The book idea had been quietly nudging me for about six months and I had been too busy and too unsure to give it the time of day, other than in my own imagination. That night, it was not letting me to go sleep until it had been recorded on paper. That was the night I started Undercover Mum, my ebook about my return to work as a mum. I wanted to share my story with other mums and mums to be so that other people would have an easier transition to working mother than I did.
I knew I couldn’t be the only working mum who had experienced a difficult transition from career to motherhood and back again. So I asked 50 of my working mum friends what their experience of returning to work as a mum was like, via a quick online survey in a Facebook message. I promised to give them a copy of my ebook, including the survey results.
Within 48 hours more than 300 working mums in Australia had completed my survey! My friends had shared the survey with their friends. Clearly, lots of working mums in Australia wanted to share and hear about others experiences too.
Undercover Mum has since grown from a free ebook to a weekly blog. This year I’ve also added new free resources to the website including a return to work cheatsheet. This free cheatsheet helps new mums returning to work feel prepared, confident and empowered. All the feelings I wish I had felt on my return to work.
Here are the top 2 fears of working mums and way to overcome them so you feel prepared and confident about returning to work:
This probably doesn’t surprise you for a number of reasons including daycare availability, financial circumstances, work hours vs daycare hours. Without suitable daycare it would be impossible to return to your corporate career (and probably explains the recent rise in mum entrepreneurs).
The antidote to worrying about finding suitable daycare is to research your options and make an informed decision about which daycare option best suits you, your family and your employment circumstances. The most common daycare options include centres, family daycare, nannies, au pair, grandparents. Select the option that you feel most comfortable with, to minimise worrying about your child while you are at work. You need to be able to trust whoever is looking after your child so you can focus on work at work.
Understanding the daycare provider’s sickness policy and how that would impact me was also important. For example some providers close when they are sick, their child is sick and your child has a runny nose (which can be at least 10 times a year for babies and toddlers). That’s potentially a lot of personal leave!
2. “I feel like I’ve lost all my professional skills
and abilities since becoming a mum.
What if I can’t remember how to?
No matter how much time you’ve spent on maternity leave, a lack of self-confidence about your professional abilities is really common.
Before you step back into the office (full of self-doubt) I suggest you review your resume and write a list of all of your professional skills. These activities will remind you of how awesome you are – because you are!
You have a lot to offer an employer and your skills don’t disappear or diminish when you become a mum. They are still there, waiting to be used again when you are ready to resume your career.
The return to work cheatsheet contains the top 5 fears of working mums, from the results of the 2015 survey (and it’s free!). I’ve also included recommended strategies and actions new mums can take to overcome these fears.
I want new mums to realise that having fears about returning to work is normal and to empower them to take action to feel confident and prepared about becoming a working mum.
I also want to help other new working mums avoid being blind sighted by common feelings of doubt and fear, like I was.
Kim Stone is a corporate mama of two, mummy blogger, author, mentor and founder of Undercover Mum.
Check out the free resources mentioned in this blog post at www.undercovermum.com.au.
You can also connect with Kim on social media via:
Kim posts daily to both of these accounts and shares relevant articles for working mums on the Undercover Mum Facebook page.