It’s difficult to balance a career and parenthood, especially if you’re a mother. There seems to be a false dichotomy of sorts when it comes to this. Either you be a mother, or you pursue your career goals.
And the sad truth is, many women suffer at work because of having a kid. Their work may end up paying them less, drop their hours, or fire them altogether. It’s the opposite if you’re a father, who may receive benefits for having a child while working.
Your boss might be a much older male who comes from a time when the gender roles were stricter. Men were supposed to be the breadwinners, while women stayed at home and took care of the kids, as they say.
A working mother was seen as a burden, wanting more time for her child and less for the company. Times change, and gender is becoming less of a factor in determining someone’s worth as an employee.
But old-fashion ideas do stick around for longer than they should, and not all companies are forward-thinking with their maternity leave policies or their general ethos.
If you’re a recent mother, and you’re ready to return to work after maternity leave, here’s how to make it easier for you.
Have a Childcare Plan
You can’t take care of your child while working, so have a plan whenever you have to work. For some, this means putting them in a daycare center. For others, they’ll have to put their baby in the care of family members or friends. If no one can take care of your child while you’re gone, it’s going to affect your career, so make sure you’re prepared.
Get Plenty of Rest
This probably sounds like a joke to most working mothers, but to balance both work and mother life, get some sleep. No sleep can affect your performance as a worker and as a mother. If your baby keeps you up at night, you may have to go to bed earlier or wake up later. Try to adjust your schedule accordingly. You have to try to avoid skipping out on rest if at all possible.
To get more energy, start an exercise regimen. This can mean joining a yoga class, working with some weights, or even taking a walk with your baby. Exercising can not only make you feel better, but it can help improve your overall health.
Seriously, if you can find the time, get some exercise. It will do wonders for the rest of your life.
Separate Your Work From Your Motherhood
You may worry about your baby as you work, or want to vent to your employees or boss about being a parent. Don’t do it, or try to do it as little as possible. You want to prove to your employers that you can balance work and motherhood, so focus on your career while you’re at work. You can’t be with your baby at work, so don’t think about it too much.
On the other hand, you need time for your child, and the company should understand this. We all know the cliché of the lonely child with a workaholic parent. Do your best to think about and be with your child as much as possible.
Remember That This is Temporary
Unless you’re having more kids, the hardest part of balancing work and motherhood is the first few years. Your baby can’t do much without someone to feed them and change their diaper, but soon they’ll be able to take care of themselves and will be at school, allowing you to put more time in your career.
The first four years or so are indeed the toughest, but you can do it. Put all your work into impressing your boss, and set time to be a mother too. At first, it may be difficult, but as you keep going, you’ll find it to be much easier.
If you feel like you’re being discriminated against for being a parent, and you can prove it, you may have to take your company to court. More parents are fighting for their right to work, and they’re winning. Do not be afraid to take this into the hands of the law if you feel like you’re being discriminated against.
If All Else Fails, Look for Another Job
If your boss is treating you unfairly due to your recent motherhood, and you don’t want to go to court, you still shouldn’t put up with it. Your boss should understand if you need more time for your baby or to rest, and if they don’t, find another job that can. There are companies that are more parent friendly, and you can find them through local job search boards or classified ads. Always plan your transition to another job, making sure your new job is going to sympathize with your motherhood. When being interviewed, be honest about how much work you can do, and you’ll go a long way.
Returning to work after a baby can be difficult due to personal stress and society looking down on working mothers. But with the right preparation, it’s possible to be successful at work and parenting.
Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.