For many of us being a working mum is not a choice. It’s financial. Work or starve. Or career orientated. Work or be relegated. Or sanity related. Work or go mad.
But for others it’s more of an actual choice. To work or not to work? And when to return? This can actually be more difficult. Having real choice usually is.
Recently, I’ve wondered whether there’s an understandable lack of symmetry between non-working mums and the working world. If you’re thinking of returning to work after a break, you might not know where to start. But perhaps I can help you consider where not to start. Let me elaborate with a not entirely fictional letter.
Would you apply for a job like this?
I saw your job ad and am writing to apply.
Well, I think I’m applying. To be honest, I’m not totally sure. I’m toying with the idea of returning to work, you see. I might be interested. I haven’t attached a CV because I haven’t got one but I can knock you one up no problem. If you let me know the salary first. So I don’t waste my time, you understand. Oh, and how flexible is the job? I might like to leave early some evenings. I have other, pressing commitments.
I look forward to meeting you at the interview. Which, I’ll probably come to. If I’m not too busy.
Returning to work mum
No, of course you wouldn’t. I’d suspect that if you did, you didn’t really want the job in the first place. So why apply? Perhaps your children are a little older now and you think you ought to work. Perhaps the idea of working is more appealing than the reality. Going for a wee on your own. Having a coffee and actually getting to drink it. That sort of thing.
I get it, I do. I’m a part-time working mum. And those are perks.
But they are not reasons to work. Being a working mum takes determination, organisation and, most importantly, commitment. Hell, so does being a stay at home mum. But on those working days when you’re struggling to get slow-moving small people out of the door it will take ALL your resolve to remember why you’re doing it. On days like that, not even a wee on your own makes it feel worthwhile.
And then of course, there’s your employer who though hopefully more tolerant than a toddler still demands your full attention. When our worlds are centred around children it’s easy to forget that other people’s worlds aren’t too. But they’re not and why should they be? If we’re being paid a fair wage, we should deliver. It’s just not reasonable to expect employers to flex constantly whilst we manage our childcare dilemmas, school runs and Christmas plays. That’s one of the perils of being a working mum. Unfortunately.
So if you’re thinking of returning to work, be tenacious about it. Show your potential employer what an asset you’d be. Don’t sit on the fence like Peter and Paul.
If, on the other hand, you’re having a lie down after reading this, then perhaps it’s not quite the right time for you. Yet.
So what? Be confident in your choice to be at home now. For however long that might be.
And shut the toilet door.
Surviving Motherhood Tip#2 – Returning to work
- Make sure you really want to work BEFORE you apply
- Have your childcare arrangements already in place
- Ask a working friend to check your CV
- A part-time position is as important as a full-time position. Don’t be fooled into thinking it means part-commitment. Employers hate this.
- Research the company you’re applying to and show an interest in what they do
- If you’re invited for interview, be early, be enthusiastic, be tenacious
- Good luck!