The first - retraining and upskilling, is perhaps an obvious one – but tips two to seven from psychologist and career coach Kristy Levin of The Parents Village might be a surprise.
If your maternity leave is just a few months or a year, there probably won’t be too many big changes at work in your absence. But if you decide to take extended leave, you might consider retraining or up-skilling before returning to work or applying for a new job.
This can be tricky when you’re caring for a new baby or young family. The few (rare) quiet moments you have during the day will be quickly filled with day-to-day household chores and the demands of childcare.
But, if you can dedicate some time at home to study, then you can quickly upgrade your skills by studying when it suits you. If you can access support, a few hours from dad, nanna, or a babysitter perhaps, then you can make this happen.
Look for an education provider like Australian Online Courses for online options without deadlines, so you can study and take assessments when you have time. This makes studying flexible and much more manageable when you're at home with young children.
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your manager and team while you’re on maternity leave to ensure you are still visible to them and visa versa explained Ms. Levin. “Have regular conversations and check-ins to see how you are both tracking and to keep evaluating where and when you will return to work.”
Organisations, structures, teams, and projects change rapidly, so don't expect everything to be the same on your return, said Ms. Levin. “Ask your manager to re-induct you to the role, and any changes that have taken place, either before or immediately after you commence work. Set aside time for introductions to current stakeholders and familiarisation with current projects, plans, systems or processes.”
When it comes to the juggle, your multitasking skills will be your biggest asset, said Ms. Levin. “Don’t expect to be able to take everything on as you used to in your career before kids, at the same pace. Be kind to yourself and aim to re-establish a new pace to ease yourself in, in agreement with your manager.”
“Don't be afraid to say no, either on the work or home front. This should be discussed up front with your manager and team; for example, working hours, flexible working options and the number of tasks or projects on your plate at a time. Continue to communicate and establish regular progress checks with your manager so that you can renegotiate the goal posts where needed.”
It’s important to start childcare weeks before you are required at the office, according to Ms. Levin. “Don't make the first day on the job the first day of child care. Allow yourself at least two to three weeks to ease your child into their new environment before sending yourself off to work.”
Just as you need to acquaint your child with their new routine, you will need time to re-energise and renew yourself before starting work. “This might mean a new work wardrobe, a great haircut, and colour, a massage, or some exercise to release some nervous energy,” said Ms. Levin.
There are many options open to mums who want to maintain career success after taking leave to have children or care for a young family. It’s important to maintain confidence during this time, and after all, as a mother, you’re already an accomplished multitasker!
Written by Haley Williams
Haley is a freelance journalist and content writer for Australian Online Courses.
If you choose to study a professional development course, make sure it’s with an education provider you can trust. Australian Online Courses offers unique personal and professional development courses, covering a multitude of industries, which are industry-approved and flexible in delivery. Simply visit us online or contact one of our friendly Learning Consultants today on 1300 762 221.