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Mothers and Returning to Work

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 18 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Mother Return Work Mother Career

Once upon a time, the vast majority of mothers did not work at all. Once you had children, it seemed as though your career prospects were over, and your job was to bring up your children in a happy and healthy home environment.

However, in recent decades changes in social attitudes and rising living costs has meant that many women return to work after having children. While some women opt to stay at home and undertake the demanding full-time job of working as mothers, others, through choice or necessity, find themselves returning to work. This return can be a matter of weeks after giving birth, to months and years after raising children.

Why Mothers Return

A mother may return to work for a number of reasons. You may want to become financially independent again, or simply you have no choice but to live and work as part of a two-income household. Some mothers may be looking for a new career direction, or want to put their skills to the test. Others simply love throwing themselves into work and find life at home restricting and lonely. There is basically no right or wrong reason for returning to work as a mother.

Does Having Children Mean Forgoing Your Career?

The answer to this question relies heavily on your employer and your career field. Encouragingly, more employers are making room for mothers (and, in some cases, fathers) to work flexibly so that they can Balance Family Life With A Working Life. For instance, many parents wish to work in such a capacity that they can take their children to school, and be available to pick them up at the end of the day. Some employers recognise this need and are making allowances for mothers to work part-time or flexibly to cope with the demands of family life.

However, sadly, this is not the case across the board. As a mother or new father, you might struggle soon after the birth of a child to find work that fits in with your new needs and priorities. Often your career prospects may suffer if you take too much time out, but then again this depends on your employer’s attitude. If you’re thinking of starting a family, it might be worth your while investigating what opportunities will lie ahead if you decide to go for it. If the prospects seem grim with your current employer, you could always switch to a more family-friendly company.

After a Long Hiatus

Bringing up children is possibly one of the most challenging roles anyone can ever undertake. And as a mother thinking of returning to work, you should not underestimate the abilities and qualities that you have obtained as a parent. The personal skills that you have acquired – supervising, assisting with your child’s development, multitasking, organisation, working in stressful and demanding situations – can be applied to other jobs and careers.

If you’re serious about returning to the workplace after a long period of unemployment, it’s really worth sitting down and taking stock of all your new skills, and adding them to those that you have acquired from any employment before you started a family. You might be surprised at just how many Transferable Skills you have!

Don’t neglect to mention them on Your New Updated CV, and if going for a job interview or filling out a job application, make sure you highlight how these skills would be beneficial to your new job role. This will demonstrate that you not only have the skills, but you recognise the needs of your employer.

Alternative Job Opportunities

Of course, as a mother returning to work, there is the option to work full-time, part-time or a series of temporary positions. It all depends on your individual circumstances and your previous employment. But there are other alternative job opportunities open to you that you may have not considered.

The advent of the Internet has brought with it the opportunity to work remotely from home for a company, or even Start Up Your Own Business. Of course, to do this you will ideally have sound IT and web skills. But if you’re not confident in your abilities, don’t forget there’s always the chance to learn and get trained up. You can do this by attending introductory courses or refresher courses at local colleges, or through ‘distance learning’ (usually courses that are undertaken online as and when you can).

Working from Home

Do you really enjoy making your own products, or have you become an expert in a certain field during your time as a mother? If so, then why not try to make a go of a career that involves your passions and interests? But remember that working from home can be fairly isolated and lonely, so you’ll have to make sure that you’re really motivated and determined to make it succeed. This is why working in a job that inspires you is so important.

Freelance Work

You might also be able to step back into the workplace in a freelance capacity. This is a viable option for those with IT skills and good research skills – you’ll need them for finding new jobs! Don’t neglect to talk to friends and family about your alternative job opportunity ideas, you might just find that there are networking opportunities available to you that you might have not otherwise realised.

Whatever your reasons for returning to work, despite the difficulties faced by some mothers, there has been no better time to do it. Organisations such as Working Families are doing their best to push for even more rights for flexible working for parents, and may be able to offer you even more advice for mothers returning to work.

Further Reading

For more information and advice on returning to the workplace, read our article Going Back to Work After a Break.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
hi im wanting to return to work now that my son is 1 years old however i would like to go back part time 16hrs a week is there a course i can do working with children and still get paid for doing so ??
laura - 18-Mar-13 @ 6:16 PM
I am a minister at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Sandy Point, TX and we are partnering with First Missionary Baptist Church in Angleton, TX where we have a summer program for the youth and would like to see if we could incorporate your program to use year round for mothers in the Brazoria County and surrounding areas. What are the steps we need to take to accomplish this goal?
Sky - 31-May-11 @ 4:20 PM
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