9 top tips for returning to work after children
"There is life after babies - you just need to find something that suits you." It's never too late to start a new chapter in your life, say Mumsnetters - just read these tips first
1. Don't underestimate what you've already learned
"Motherhood is a transformative experience for many. I've changed a lot since having my kids - I have more confidence, more self-motivation, more skilled at multi-tasking, more resourceful. The skills I now have are some of the ones which have made my post-kids business a success."
2. Ask yourself what you really, really want
"I've been a stay-at-home mum for seven years, and it's only recently I've stopped thinking 'What is going to earn me the most money?', which is what I was focused on before; now I'm thinking 'What is going to give me the greatest satisfaction?'"
3. There are no limits (well, maybe a few)
"Say to yourself if I could be a professional ANYTHING, what would I be? Then rule out Olympian/Gisele - but keep in anything else. So what if it takes you 10 years to qualify as a neurologist - just do it."
4. Consider going back to school
"I think now would be a perfect time to do a degree if you feel so inclined. I know that I would do so much better at it now I'm older - get much more out of it, enjoy it more."
...if you can afford it
"It's vital to check you have the significant time, money, commitment and aptitude to undertake it. And that it will pay back sufficiently - ie there is demand for the role. It paid off for me, just about - but I chose carefully and I'm not sure I'd do it again quite so willingly."
5. Take it slowly if you like
"I'm going back to part-time hours in an office to ease myself back into the workplace. Thankfully I have found something flexible and local."
6. Or work for yourself
"Could you start a small freelance business related to your previous work? That may be something you can fit around small children. Start off by working during naptime and after they're in bed. It could provide you with the sense of achievement that you're looking for."
7. Volunteering might help you find your mojo
"Thought I'd never work again and had lost my confidence. Volunteering is what turned things around for me - I got back into work after my younger one went to nursery, and went into paid work when he was in Year 3."
"I bet there's a school near you looking for school governors - why not do that as a start to updating some of your work skills?"
...but do make sure it moves you forward
"With volunteering, you have to get something out of it as well (that doesn't sound 'nice' written down, but is very true). While some voluntary posts can lead to employment and training for a field, there are many others that do not."
8. Aim high
"I just want my old job, on my terms (days off when I like, no childcare to consider, good salary and lots of lovely feedback from colleagues and a nice Christmas do). That's not too much to ask... is it?"
9. Because you never know what's in store
"Around my 40th birthday, I applied for a job in a different (but related) field to the one I had worked in pre-kids. I didn't think I'd get it (after 9 years off work), but I did. Now I'm working part time and I am so happy and fulfilled. I love my kids and I enjoyed being a stay-at-home mum, but it feels great to be back and work, being valued for my intelligence."