As my baby get closer to celebrating his first birthday, so too do I get closer to returning to the paid workforce. The prospect of returning to work is a daunting one for me. Having left my last job when having my baby and then moving interstate, I am looking for a brand new job that is part time and family friendly.
So where to start? I have received some very helpful advice from the amazing network of women around me who are all working mums. I am passing it on below:
Itís the age old question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Or in this case, the job or the childcare. After touring many childcare centres, the advice from each of the directors was always the same. Sort out childcare first, and then sort out the job.
If like me you are looking for a new job, it is easier to know which days of the week I am available for prospective employment.
If you are returning to your current role from maternity leave, it might be different. But in any case, knowing which days you have organised childcare will be a big relief.
If you are looking for a new job, the best place to start is making sure all of your personal and career history details are up to date. Carve out some time to yourself to get organised and get your head in the game.
Make sure your Linkedin profile is still relevant and set to actively looking for work. Give yourself a snazzy new profile picture and a spiel on how amazing you are. Employers and recruiters actively search through Linkedin for potential employees and also advertise jobs. That is how I found my last position.
Update your resume and have it checked over by someone who isnít sleep deprived. Ensure your last position is fully updated if you forgot to do this when you finished up.
Check that your references are up to date. It might be worth contacting your references to make sure that they are still going to give you glowing feedback. Make sure that their contact details are up to date as well, especially if they have changed companies or positions.
Sign up with recruitment agencies and set up a Seek profile. There are some recruitment agencies that specialise in mums returning to work. One such agency is Just Mums Recruitment. They connect working mums with flexible employers.
3. Dry run
Before the big day arrives, it is definitely worth doing a dry run of the morning routine. Gone are the days where you can spend an hour carefully blow drying your hair, applying make up and creating gourmet breakfasts.
Give yourself a chance to go through your wardrobe and pick out what you can wear that will need minimal maintenance. Eliminate anything that will need to be ironed or that stains easily. Practice hair and makeup that can be done in 15 minutes or less. Don't dress until right before you walk out the door!
Think about what you are going to have for breakfast. I am all about having breakfast before work. Food that will give me energy but can be made with a one year old hanging off my leg. Smoothies, fruit or toast are all easily thrown together.
This dry run so far only relates to getting yourself ready. You will now have to fit in some personal time in the morning on top of getting your little munchkin ready for their day. Chat to your partner if possible on where they can help in the morning.
Most importantly, do the childcare drop off a few times to make sure you know how long it is going to take. Leave room for potential road blocks like poonamis, traffic and teary meltdowns. The more fine tuned you have the morning routine, the less stressed you will be when you arrive at work.
Depending on the age of your child and your personal circumstances, you may still be breast or bottle feeding when you go back to work.
If you are going to express milk, speak to your employer about whether there is a comfortable place for you to express during the day if you need to. Or if you can take breaks to breastfeed. You may need to express for a few weeks before returning to work to build up a supply.
If you are planning on using formula or expressed milk, it could be worth making sure your child will take a bottle. I have a baby who is very attached to breastfeeding and does not like to drink from a bottle. It will be trial and error to see how we go when I go back to work.
5. Contingency plan for sick days
There will come a time where your child wont be able to go to childcare for some reason. It could be that they are sick or your caregiver is going on holidays. This is when a contingency plan will need to be deployed.
Some workplaces are very flexible for parents returning to work. Others maybe not so much. Find out about your employers policy for carers leave and personal leave.
Speak to your partner or your network of family/friends about who could potentially step in to help if you canít get away from work. Make sure your childcare has a list of people who can pick up your child if needed.
6. Have a plan for your day off
If you work part time or casual, or even full time, have a plan for what to do on your days off from work. I am not talking the boring things like grocery shopping (I use Coles online and itís the best decision of my life) and cleaning. I am talking about fun things to do as a family.
If you have things to look forward to, it will make it that much easier being back at work. It could be going to baby sensory classes, mums and bubs yoga or a trip to the zoo. Something that you will enjoy and can reminisce on next time you are back at work.