It’s an inside work. This career and family fulfilment gig.
So many of us are buffeted from one situation to the next that we don’t have time to stop. We lose perspective. We feel run down, stressed and confused. Is this really it?
“This isn’t what I signed up for”
“I didn’t think it would be this hard”
“I feel guilty all of the time, about everything”
“My partner helps but it’s definitely me leading the charge at home”
We see the external factors that make it easier – shared parental leave, flexible working, truly brilliant leadership, belonging to a network, reading all the right articles and books, having a schedule. Or, harder – none of the above and too much judgement.
To really create the life you want to have as a woman with family and a career, you have to know what you want before you start battling the cultural norms.
What do you imagine motherhood to look like?
What are your values?
If you are doing this with a partner, what are their values?
What does your organisation offer and what do you want to take them up on?
You have to know where you stand on progression.
A huge percentage of women return from maternity leave and don’t progress. Yes, discrimination and opportunity can play a part but so too does ambition. Do you want to keep progressing?
The one thing we all know about ambition, is it takes energy to have it.
You have to set up the scaffold in yourself before you return. It’s not enough to say it, you have to take action to feel it and to put things in place that make progression possible if that’s what you want.
You have to be true to yourself
It’s important that you choose the right length of leave, the right communication plan, the best return process and working arrangements thereafter that are right for YOU.
Then, you must own your value if/when you need to change it. Your employer doesn’t want you to go. Don’t be embarrassed that you need to adjust things. Life changes, babies grow, needs change.
You are a person, and the policy should shape around you as much as possible.
You Have to Look After Yourself
The decisions we make about our careers after maternity leave are often made in a fog of sleep deprivation, big feelings and a sea of change.
Even with the best preparation and support, new parenthood challenges us.
If your own oxygen mask is on, you can see more clearly. Compromises will seem less compromising. Challenges will seem less challenging.
Yep, we know. Self care bla bla.
People, it’s a daily practice. We know ourselves that when we don’t do it – even those 5 minutes each morning – we’re on a joyless road to ruin. Don’t get sucked in by the Supermum myth. It’s about priorities. Your mental health is your very essence. Look after it.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Ideally, not to a best friend who can’t help but react in a way that validates their own understanding of the world or themselves. That’s just the truth of human communication. It’s extremely hard to be totally objective and centred only on the wellbeing of the person confiding in you.
Find a trusted mentor, a coach, a counsellor, or whatever floats your boat as far as a safe place to vent and come up with solutions.
If in doubt, ask us who can help.
All The Hacks
The food prep. The meal planning. The laundry. The activities. The appointments. The playdates.
Whatever stage you’re at, there are hacks to be found! Get out and ask your village!
Apparently, a blog shouldn’t be this long so I’ll stop before I’m instructed to just write the book.
If you remember one thing, remember this. The system is the way it is because we have never challenged it. Challenge it. You are absolutely worth it.
Lynn White, Founder