Strategies For Restarting Your Career After Having A Baby

 

After having a child, most parents want to return to work as soon as possible. The average American parent with young children spends just 19 weeks caring for them before returning to work. But for many parents, this time frame is shorter than they would like, especially if they plan on returning to their old careers.

There are many challenges when re-entering the workforce after having a baby; balancing childcare responsibilities and job opportunities, establishing credibility in your field, and building your network again. However, it's not impossible with the right mindset and well-planned strategy! This blog post details tips for moms who struggle to find their ground at the workplace after having a baby.

 

Come up with a post-baby job strategy

The first step to re-entering the workforce after having a baby is to develop a post-baby job strategy. What field do you want to re-enter? Do you want to go back full-time, part-time, or from home? What level do you want to work at (e.g., entry-level, senior level, etc.)? Which companies would you be interested in working for? Keep a detailed list of potential job opportunities and companies to apply to. Make it a goal to use at least one chance per week and follow up with those applications. It will help you be organized and focused on your post-baby job strategy while ensuring you have plenty of options.

 

 First, let go of the guilt

You may go through mixed emotions about returning to work, ranging from intense sadness to eager anticipation. Feel free to express yourself through crying, laughing, writing in a journal, or contacting a friend. Indulge in preemptive nostalgia in the weeks leading up to the end of my mat leave, lamenting our last mat-leave breakfast, our last mat-leave walk, and our last mat-leave diaper change.

 

Network, network, network

The best way to re-establish your career is to start networking! Your network comprises all your contacts who know you and your skills, and it is a great way to find job opportunities and recommend others for positions. You can network with old colleagues, friends, and family. Joining online networks like LinkedIn is another great way to expand your professional network. A hiring manager will work with you to identify opportunities that are a good fit for both of you. If you have a larger social network, you have a better chance of finding a solution that suits your needs regardless of the path you follow. Additionally, being part of a network will help you stay connected and engaged in your field, which is essential for re-establishing your credit.

 

Use your vacation time

While returning to your old job after a long pause, you might not be able to return full-time immediately. Instead, use your vacation time to ease back into the workforce gradually and have time to find childcare. It would not be the greatest idea; however, it is one way to make the transition easier. Moreover, consider taking online courses to ease back into the workplace.

 

Take assessment tests

If you have been away from the job market for a long time, you may be unsure of where you stand in your field. In this case, you can consider taking assessment tests that are designed to help you determine what you are qualified for. Preparing for the exams will give you an idea of what fields you should focus on and may also help you receive job offers. Unlike when you first entered your old job, you must prove that you can excel in the field again.

 

Start Soft

The best way to adapt to a new routine is to ease into it. The best way to ease back into working life after dropping off your child at daycare is to ease in gradually by starting with just a few hours a day. You can use the time to shop for a new back-to-work outfit or to just, you know, use the bathroom in peace.

Some companies provide what are called "soft returns" or "graduated returns," in which employees are given fewer duties, which means a gradual increase in workload at work until the target hours each day or week are met. If you can't start back on a weekend, a midweek or Friday return will help ease the transition back to work.

 

Set milestones for yourself

Transitioning back into work life can be challenging, especially since you will likely be doing everything independently. To make the transition less painful, set milestones for yourself, such as finding childcare, building your network again, reading up on industry trends, etc. These milestones will help you keep track of your progress and know when you are ready to start applying for jobs. It will help you be motivated and see that you are almost there!

 

Commit to continuing education

When you first entered your career, you probably committed to continual education, but then maybe you let it slip away as your child grew. Now, you have another child and want to return to work. Always make time for furthering your education.

Taking advantage of available online course options is one approach. This way, you can accomplish things at your own pace, focus on what matters most to you, and finish up whenever it suits you. Committing to continual education will help you stay current in your field, which is crucial for re-establishing your credibility.

 

Prepare for set-back

The first few weeks back at the office were definitely the most challenging ones. You may realize that you are reaching a breaking point managing a newborn and transitioning back to work; and feel very exhausted.

 Different parents will face different obstacles on their way return to the workplace, such as the common cold, teething, and snow days. A backup child care arrangement is helpful, as is remembering that "this, too, shall pass." 

 

Set your boundaries

Don't bother the childcare (or grandparents or stay-at-home partner) too much with updates while you're at work. You will be informed of any urgent situations. Have fun wearing those nice dress pants you pressed the night before (or didn't; we won't tell anyone). Appreciate the chance to engage in mature discourse with your coworkers. If you work from home, define your boundaries on when you will and will not be available.

Make an effort to put your workweek behind you as you clock out. Your pre-baby self could schedule to finish off some tasks in the evenings or on the weekends, but this won't always be possible (or desirable). Surely, you wouldn't want your phone to be ringing off the hook with "urgent" after you've left work (or returned to "on-limits") for the day; you may need to get creative with how you schedule your time. 

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, re-entering the workforce after having a baby is challenging but rewarding and necessary. You can do a few things to make this transition easier, such as coming up with a post-baby job strategy, networking, using your vacation time, taking assessment tests, setting milestones for yourself, and committing to continual education. This is not easy for anyone, but it's certainly doable! Continue reading blogs at WomenWire.com to remain motivated and ahead in the game.