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10 tips for back-to-work confidence

Worried about returning to work after taking time out for your children? Read this guide for help 

After maternity leave, I wanted to get back to work but I had very little confidence.

I knew I could feed a small crowd of kids, sing a few lullabies and get to school on time. But I wasn’t so sure I could write and research any more or hold a coherent phone conversation, let alone do my accounts.

And then there was the childcare issue. Finding someone lovely who I trusted to look after my brood seemed such an insurmountable hurdle, I didn’t know where to start.

Getting back out there

Then one day I stumbled across Stephen Covey’s theory of ‘Circles of Concern and Influence’ from his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon and Schuster).

This is the idea that highly effective people only focus on the parts of their lives that they can control, for example health, children or problems at work (the Circle of Concern).

They don’t spend time worrying about things that they can’t control, which lie in their ‘Circle of Influence’ – like the weather, wars, the economy and the train timetable.

‘Your life doesn’t just happen,’ wrote Stephen. ‘Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you.’

Getting back into control

Later, I couldn’t stop thinking about Stephen’s theory. I thought about it on the way to school, while cooking the kids’ dinner and after I’d finally got them down for the night.

And it hit me that with concerns about work at the forefront of my mind, I hadn’t given much thought to the steps I could take to recover my confidence.

After researching different options, I decided to sign up for a course to brush up on some IT skills. I also took a more business-like and professional approach to getting my childcare options sorted out.

These two things immediately made me feel ready to return to work and more sure in my abilities. So whatever happened after that, at least I knew I’d tried.

 

More ways to boost your work confidence:  

  1. Remember your finest hour

    ‘Remind yourself of how you looked one day when you performed your best at work,’ says career coach Helen Slingsby of Career Breakthrough. ‘The next time you feel a bit wobbly, conjure up this image. Remember, you’re still that same person who chaired that meeting at work.’

  2. Don’t wait for the perfect job

    ‘Don’t wait for the perfect part-time 9 to 3 role (term-time only) to fall into your lap,’ says Helen. ‘It won’t. You need to go out and find it and sell yourself accordingly.’ So think about how you can market yourself into the world of work. Talk to smaller companies about your skills and offer to take on projects from home.’

  3. Tap the sisterhood

    ‘Connect with other women who have successfully re-entered the workplace,’ says Amanda Sasada, maternity coach at My Family Care. ‘Ask them how they did it and go out and re-invent yourself too.’

  4. Seek advice

    Ask for help on any work question, no matter how small. ‘I remember asking for advice on what to wear, and even which type of laptop and smartphone to buy before returning to work,’ says Amanda.

  5. Stay current

     ‘Keep poking your head above the baby fog parapet,’ says Helen. ‘Listen to the radio, keep up with the news and stay in touch with former colleagues.’

  6. Brush up on skills

    Research the night classes at your local college. Think about upgrading your IT and social media skills if it’s been a while since you were in the workplace.

  7. Take baby steps

     Don’t be daunted, but break down what you need to do into manageable chunks. A career or life coach can help you further.

  8. Be prepared to drop down a level for a short while

    ‘This is very common in the current economic climate given the high level of unemployment,’ says Helen.

  9. On maternity leave? Do use your Keeping in Touch days

    ‘Arrange to meet up with key people who are supportive, influential and interested in your transition back to work,’ says Amanda.

  10. Network. A lot.

    ‘Network with everyone you meet, including friends and family, in case there’s any part-time work on offer,’ says Helen.

 

Parents have special skills 

If you’re still not convinced, here are some of the transferable work skills that you develop while raising children:

–          Patience

Anyone who’s dealt with a ratty toddler knows what this one’s all about.

–          Time management

Mothers tend to work extremely efficiently to squeeze in their workload before having to rush off to pick up the kids.

–          Being able to see the bigger picture

‘At work, mothers are less likely to get bogged down in the small details than women who haven’t had children,’ says Amanda.

–          Key organisational skills

Looking after a family involves a lot of scheduling and organisation. But you’ll also develop extra skills if you take on a role in your PTA, playgroup or another local group.

‘If you can battle in the PTA, you can battle in the boardroom,’ says Amanda. ‘The school playground is much scarier than any boardroom I have been in.’

–          Multi-tasking 

Booking swimming classes while simultaneously preparing dinner and checking homework really is quite a feat, but just an average day for any mum.

–          Understanding personality

You learn rather a lot about dealing with different personality types when raising kids. Sometimes a bit too much.

‘Be courageous, remember your former self and remind yourself that there’s a skills deficit in the world, which sassy women can fill,’ says Helen.

Work ahead sign


Comments (20)

  • Avatar

    anna

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    interesting. I admit I will not really know how to get into work once my kids have grown up

  • Avatar

    Ruth Alexander-Smith

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    I wish I had this advice when I went back to ‘formal’ work after a 10 year absence. I think the advice to believe in yourself and take baby steps is very good and just go for it!

  • Avatar

    Mammasaurus

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    A helpful post, and it’s such a myth that people either ‘have confidence or they don’t’, it really is something one needs to work at. Great ideas here to help people do just that x

  • Avatar

    Jennifer

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    Some brilliant advice here, thank you. I’ve been out of work for over a year now after being made redundant and I know I’ll have to go back at some point but it’s easy to make excuses and like you say wait for the perfect job to come and find me when of course it won’t. Your list of transferable skills is great!

  • Avatar

    Loubelle

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    Really positive advice. I think mums can underestimate the new skill sets that being a parent gives them.

  • Avatar

    Pinkoddy

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    What great points, which could be applied to much more than just returning to work.

  • Avatar

    http://wheretogetstarted.com

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    Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution
    and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems
    different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Hiya, I’m using a WordPress platform. Didn’t look into any of the other options, I’m afraid, so can’t offer any advice on which ones work better. But I’m really happy with WordPress.

  • Avatar

    healthiermummy

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    Thanks so much for your kind comments. I’m glad the blog is useful.

  • Avatar

    healthiermummy

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    Thanks for your comment. I’m dying to know what else you’d written now!

  • Avatar

    Patricia

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    Great article, I love it! Sounds like that realisation about the choice and control we have in our lives was a real catalyst. Love the practical steps. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs. Thank you for taking the time to write about your experiences and inspire others.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      So glad you liked reading my blog. Thanks for taking the time to write a comment. I really appreciate it.

  • Avatar

    healthiermummy

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    Thanks for your comment. My tips would be to plan out your blogs, meet other bloggers for support (for example at a blog conference) and remember what the point of your blog is before you write. Yes, it takes some work.

  • Avatar

    Lorraine Thomas

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    This is a fantastic site. I love the way it is so easy to read and full of so many great practical tips. Mums will always be their child’s most powerful role model so thanks for suggesting so many ideas that I can make happen and really makes me think about helping my children to do the same!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, Lorraine. Great to hear your feedback.

  • Avatar

    healthiermummy

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    Thanks for your comments. It’s really lovely to hear you like my blog.

  • Avatar

    zen cleanse

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  • Avatar

    recette crepe

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Comments are closed