The idea of going back to work when you still have a tiny baby can be a daunting prospect. So if you know you will be going back to your job, it’s a good idea to think about how you want it to work as early as you can.
Set aside some uninterrupted time to sit down with your partner and discuss your routine, what your childcare options are and if you are thinking of applying for flexible working; what would work best for you. It can take some time to find childcare that you’re happy with, sometimes there’s a waiting list and you also need to factor in settling in days for you and your child. Be prepared well in advance then there’s no need to panic that you’re running out of time!
We’ve put together a step by step guide to ease you through the process:
Why You’re Working
It might help you to clarify in your own mind your reasons for returning to your job. Make a list of all the reasons you are going back and then rate them 1=most important, 5= least important. Here are some to start you off.
- Identity out of the home
- Time away from children
- Adult company
Seeing your priorities for working written down might be useful. For most of us earning money is the deciding factor but by making this list it could be that you realise time away from your children and some adult company is what you need most. If so, and you’re finding that getting good childcare around your existing job is difficult – realising what is important to you might raise the possibility of other options to tick those boxes.
Draw up a list of everything you do and all the people you spend time with and rate them according to priority. Also make a note of how long you spend doing each thing.
Take into account spending quality time with you children, adult time with your partner, seeing your family and friends, hours you spend at work, going to the gym, socialising, doing the housework and shopping.
The order you put them in will help you get clear in your mind what’s important to you, then you can start prioritising and finding ways around the things you’ll have less time to do once you’re at work.
You might also realise you spend a lot of time doing something you don’t enjoy or need to do which you can cut out altogether. Or you might be surprised at how little time you spend doing something you love.
Who Does What?
Who does the supermarket shopping, who cooks the meals, cleans the house, gets the children dressed in the morning and ready for bed at night and who does homework and reads bedtime stories?
If you have been responsible for these things while you’ve been on maternity leave you might need to arrange with your partner to share the responsibility when you’re both working. Drawing up a weekly rota might help start this new way of doing things off so everyone is clear what’s expected of them.
Hopefully you’ll be earning money by going back to work – even after paying for childcare – so you may find you can afford to hire a cleaner and/or someone to do your ironing. Or if you have an au pair or nanny you might be able to agree with them to share the burden.
What do you spend your money on? Have a good look at whether you can reduce your outgoings.
Are you still paying for a gym you never use? When was the last time you checked if you were getting a good deal on your car and house insurance, phone and even your mortgage? You might be able to move suppliers and save a considerable amount of money. Check out moneysupermarket.com and sign up to Martin Lewis’ moneysavingexpert.com
Make a list of everything you spend on a monthly basis. Don’t forget your daily coffee or your tube fare – they all add up.
How much do you need to earn?
Now you’ve tidied up your finances you will have a better idea of how much you actually need to earn. If you’re thinking about going from full to part time this will be useful.
We’ll get to flexible working options in a bit. Once you’ve worked out your choices, you may be able to ask your HR department for salary estimates for each of these flexible working options. Or you could try and work it out yourself on a pro rata basis (proportional to the number of days you work).
Often couples automatically presume the woman’s working day should also accommodate all the drop offs and pick ups too. But we’re not in the 1950s. Your partner may be able to start work earlier and leave later at least one day at week. Depending on who has the greater earning capacity he might even want to consider working part time to accommodate you working more days
What childcare is available to you? Do you have family members who can do a couple of days for you? Which days are they available and for how long? If you need to use other types of childcare, start with your Family Information Service at your local authority. They will be able to give you a list of OFSTED registered childminders, nannies and nurseries which you can phone, visit and assess which are right for you.
Getting to and from work
Once you’ve found someone you’re happy to leave your child with, don’t forget to make sure the time you need to leave for work marries up with the childcare provider opening time. Remember you need to take into account how long it takes you to get to and from work and you may need to factor in alternate methods of getting your child to their nursery or childminder as part of their day.
Every Sunday night my Mother in Law stays the night so my partner and I can make 8am starts. I’m off Tuesday and Wednesday and my partner has gone down to a four day week and does Thursday. On Friday I drop my son at nursery early and get to work for 9am. My partner starts at 8am and picks him up at 6pm.
Perhaps your partner can alter his working hours too so you can easily cover both ends of the day between you. If this isn’t possible you may need to find someone else (a friend, neighbour or a childminder) to take your child to nursery. Don’t forget to add this to your childcare costs.
Take a look at our post Return to Work CV: Where to Start for some great tips on how to organise your CV. If your CV isn’t up-to-date and looking good then your application is not likely to go any further as employers just don’t have the time to spend calling candidates to verify details.
Amazing; you’ve got an interview, you’ve sorted out what you’re going to wear and you’re starting to visualise yourself back at work. You’re probably feeling really excited about the prospect of getting back out into the big wide world, but if you’ve been at home for a while you might be worrying about how to convince an employer to give you a job or even your ability to do the job.
Remember: They want you to be good. They’ve got a vacancy and they need to fill it. They’ve advertised for the position, they’ve been through CVs and they’ve had to block out their diaries to do the interviews. They don’t want you to fail, they want you to be brilliant and solve all their problems so you can all get back to work!
The only thing you need to know is – BE PREPARED! For more tips and advice read our post Got An Interview – Now What?
Hopefully this guide has helped you get the way forward clearer in your head. Life DOES become more complicated with children – especially if you’re working too. As mothers we always do manage to find a way over all the hurdles, even if they need to be organised with military precision!
Mojomums Jobs helps to get mums back into the work place and in a role to suit their needs. We can help you no matter how much or how little you want to work, skilled or unskilled. Visit www.mojomumsjobs.co.uk