It’s often thought that parenthood and career progression don’t mix, and this has certainly been the experience of lots of mothers returning to the workplace. When you’ve left a demanding job to have a baby, as I did when I left my role as marketing director for a large law firm, even if you are lucky enough to have your job kept open, the readjustment and juggling of work and parenthood are a challenge. As a parent, it’s difficult to give the level of focus to your work that you did before. There are still things you can do, though, to get ahead in your work.
Choose a Career That Uses Your Skills
Humans are highly adaptable. They can sandwich themselves into almost anything, and this is especially true when it comes to their work. Even if it’s not something you’re naturally drawn to, you can find a way to make it work, with success. But if you’re going to be balancing work and home life, it’s best to choose a career that makes the most of your existing skills. If you’re a mother who’s returning to the workforce, why not look at a job that makes the most of the skills you’ve acquired through parenthood, such as becoming a teacher or a nurse? Your job will be much easier if you’re not “faking” it.
Be Reachable Beyond the Office
You’re not going to be able to spend long hours in the office like your child-free colleagues are. You’ll need to pick the kids up from school, arrange the dinner, and so on. But just because you can’t physically be there, that doesn’t mean that you’re unable to go the extra mile. You can! When the kids are watching television, or you’re waiting for dinner to cook, you can spend some time working from your laptop or returning calls. Just make sure you ring-fence quality time to spend with the kids and pamper time for you so that you do not burn out.
Top Up Your Skills
The best way to get ahead in any career is to make yourself indispensable to your organisation. One way to do this is to top up your skills. If you work in advertising, then taking a course in online marketing would be useful. If you’re a nurse, then look at online nursing programs. If you work in sales, then a business communications course or similar would be appropriate. In so doing, you’ll be giving yourself the skills that are needed for the higher positions, and showing your employers that becoming a success in your field is a top priority. Improving your skills also makes you easier to promote by recruitment companies and more attractive for headhunters.
It’s important that you’re not dealing with home issues while you’re at work. Of course, sometimes this is unavoidable, but most of the time it’s a question of making sure you have organised suitable childcare and delegated chores where you can. It will be easier to focus at work when you are not worrying about whether there is someone to pick up the kids from school for example. This will be easier to achieve if you’re well organised; you won’t have to hastily make arrangements for childcare in between meetings – it’ll all be taken care of. The employers won’t even notice that there’s anything different about your arrangement.