Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Are you ready to return to work?

If you are like many of us, you always intended to return to work at some stage after your children had reached a certain age. Sitting at work on your last day, belly bumping into the desk and everything else, you would have thought, “Oh yes, when my baby is old enough I’ll be back.” How innocent were we? It’s not that simple now, is it?

There are many things to consider before leaping back to the workplace from whence you came. Are you emotionally ready? Are your skills up to date? Do you have a job to go back to or do you need to look for one? Do you have a decent resume? How is your confidence level? Aahhh!

The Mother of a baby.

I’m sure that you will have considered childcare, childcare costs, emergency care and school holiday care and so on. You will have carefully planned everything for your children; but what about how you feel? You can plan the rest but you need to take care of your own feelings too.

The decision to return to work can be quite an emotional one, more so if your child is still a baby. There is the grief of parting, the agony of missing a milestone in your child’s life, fear of leaving them with someone else, and finally the incredible guilt that many feel in leaving them at all.

How will you cope with your emotions? While you are the only one who knows how you feel and what will make it better for you, here are a few suggestions that might help you work through the decision process.

*Consider the benefits to your child – don’t think just in terms of negatives.

*Talk to someone who has gone back to work just recently. What worked for her? What didn’t?

*Talk to your boss, if you are going back to your old place or work. Tell her your concerns and see what she can suggest. This won’t be a new experience for her

*Consider working part time until you and your baby are happy with this new life.

*Consider a different job – working after hours, or from home.

*Visit your local health centre for some counselling or guidance.

The Mother of a family.

Perhaps you are one of the many women who have been off work for some years while raising a family. Your children aren’t babies anymore. While it is still difficult to leave them, at least your children are older and becoming independent. Before and after school care is not quite as big an issue as day care can be.

The issues for you may be very different. They may be more personal.

How long is it since you were in the workplace? How long is it since you had an interview? How long is it since you had something to work on other than the housework? You may not even have an outfit suitable to wear to work or to an interview.

For some of us the fear that comes with having to return to work can be crippling. Your confidence levels may be at an all time low. You need to decide how you can get past this and how you can find a job that you feel capable of doing.

To make it easier on yourself there are some things that you can do.

*Decide what you want from a job – what hours, pay, training, school holiday time off and so on. That will help you decide whether to go full or part time.

*Visit some local women in business. Find out who they are and whether they are hiring. It is often easier to negotiate working arrangements with women in small or local businesses because they are in the same boat.

*Consider starting your own business. We don’t all have to work for someone else, and this is something that you can build up over time.

*Do a refresher course to update your skills or knowledge. Many Neighbourhood Houses, local councils and TAFE’s offer relevant short courses.

*Go back to school. Try something completely different

*Visit an Image Consultant who can guide you with your wardrobe building so that you get the most useful garments for the best price. They will teach you how to put together a stylish outfit with only a small budget.

*Look for online courses to fill in any gaps. There is much available today for little or no cost.

*If it is all too much then start your new independence off by joining an interest group. Get used to doing something on your own and for yourself.

*Accept offers of help. I know that this is often hard to do but try it.

*Hold a home party where they do makeovers (think cosmetic companies) and look at the makeup colours they use. Try something new, and get it at a discounted price and have fun at the same time.

Regardless of how old your children are returning to work is a major event in our lives. Break back in gradually and don’t expect to be perfect straight away. It will take you a day or two to warm up!

The most important point is to look after yourself during this time. You will be tired so make sure that you get some rest. The dishes can wait, but your health can’t. If you are fit and well then the return to work process will be easier on you and your children. You don’t have to be superwoman.

Anne Maybus [B.A., GradDipBus (HRD)} has 15 years experience in human resources. She is the owner of, a website aimed at increasing the confidence of women returning to work,, an online store and is the creator of a business women’s network at .

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