Getting back into the swing of things
The easiest way to make the home-to-work transition is returning to your current place of employment. You’re familiar with the corporate culture, and you understand your role. Expect an adjustment period at first. Naturally, you’ll have some catching-up to do. But once you’re up to speed, it’s time to get back in the ball game.
The real challenge is starting a new job. It requires gathering new information, taking on new functions and responsibilities, fitting into a new structure and meeting new people. “It’s a sort of starting a new school kind-of-feeling,” says Sally, a 31-year-old first-time mom from Quebec.
Going back to work, especially to a new job can be daunting-there’s a lot to learn, from your day-to-day duties to understanding company infrastructure. Developing new, solid relationships with your colleagues and, most importantly, your boss is an important part of the learning process.
It’s normal to have some doubts. Many new moms ask themselves if they can handle the workload in addition to recent motherhood. After all, for the last little while the focus has been on changing diapers and cleaning spit-up rather than creating power point presentations or organizing financial documents.
Turn to colleagues you trust for support. If you’ve started a new job, don’t be shy to introduce yourself to people, especially those in your department, on day one. Ask questions.
Try also to acquire information about your new work environment, by reading as much literature as you can find. If you walk into a new place of employment with some knowledge about the company at your fingertips, you’ll be in the loop and able to contribute immediately.
But do give yourself time to learn the ropes. Easing into a new job requires patience. Before you know it, your doubt will disappear and working will become as natural as it was in those pre-baby days.
Some women return to the workplace to find that the job they once had just doesn’t fit their new lifestyle. Frequent travelling, demanding hours and bringing work home are some of the telling-conditions that help a new mom identify when it’s time to move on.
Always be ready to reevaluate. Take Lisa, who has been with the same multinational IT company for thirteen years. Because she knew the day would come soon, she decided to adopt a preemptive roll change, even before she became pregnant. As a consultant her job demanded constant travelling. Knowing that she wanted to start a family, when an internal position as a human resources manager opened, she grabbed it. “I was willing to take a ten percent pay-cut and my progression up the corporate ladder isn’t a quick as it was when I was in consulting. But, I didn’t want to risk leaving a great firm and to throw away years of experience. So I decided to use my knowledge internally.”
Switching from consulting to HR eliminated the travel element and provided Lisa with the flexibility she didn’t previously have. After the birth of her first child, she initially returned to the office. Soon after, because most of her work can be done remotely through phone calls, emails and instant messenger, she was working from home.
Staggering hours and working around different schedules that are not bound to the conventional 9 to 5 is ideal for some moms. It’s an opportunity to have the career and also stay involved in their children’s lives. Now a mother of two, Lisa can check in on her kids while they’re eating lunch or playing with the nanny. Lisa also saves time because she doesn’t have to commute to-and-from the office. She works what her company calls “a four day compressed work week”—longer hours Monday through Thursday, with Friday as her day off. She spends her morning taking her daughter to a mom and tot program and her afternoon running errands.
Inevitably, when you re-enter the workforce you will face new challenges and your life will take on a different pace. Give yourself time to re-immerse yourself in your career. Embrace the changes that you encounter. And you’ll see, your move from home-to-work will be easier than you thought.