Recently I was interviewed by Soozi Baggs of MaternityLeavers.com about my experience of maternity leave and thoughts of returning to work after I became a mother.
Even though it’s been 15 years since I went through the whole ‘should I stay or should I go now?’ dilemma, it’s all still very fresh in my mind.
Are you facing ‘The Big Decision’ – whether to go back to work, be a stay at home mother or maybe start a home business?
It can be a confusing time.
When I became pregnant I had to decide whether to take the maternity package and keep my cool job as a record cover designer for a major label, or cut the cord (so to speak) and be a SAHM?
My head was in a total spin over it.
Then I got proactive. First, I wrote down the Pros & Cons of each choice. Next, I closed my eyes and visualised what my daily life would look like in each scenario.
My visualisation looked like this:
Option A: Take maternity leave and return to work.
- Find someone I trust implicitly to look after my baby for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.Get dressed and ready for work on a bad night’s sleep, hand baby over and catch the train into central London.
- Work all day, commute home, and have baby again at the ‘arsenic hour’ when everyone’s tired and cranky.
Option B: Quit job and stay at home
- At home with baby 24/7.
- No creative outlet or non-baby related interaction with adults. (i.e.: bored senseless)
- Earn no income.
Yikes! Which is better? Which is worse?
I realised I wanted the best of both worlds. To keep my creative cogs turning, continue earning money, still feel like ‘me’ – but to also be a big part of my baby’s daily development and not feel completely dependent on someone else to look after him.
Then the solution came to me.
I’d work from home as a Freelance Graphic Designer, hire a part-time nanny 3 days a week, take on only as much work as I could handle, and have a full-on mother experience 2 weekdays, plus weekends.
I promptly handed in my notice and used the remainder of my pregnancy to set up my home business. I already had the graphic design skills, now I needed to make it work for me in a whole new setting.
And it was a successful solution. I organised things like baby swimming lessons and musical playgroups on the two weekdays we had together and hired an amazing nanny to take over on the days I worked. I never felt I missed anything as he was only downstairs and I could pop in and say hello anytime.
You can only guess which days I found more utterly exhausting and challenging! On the mornings when our nanny arrived, I felt an enormous surge of gratitude as she walked in the door. But I also cherished my days with my son and appreciated the balance of both realities.
However, my happy little set-up took on some fresh challenges when son number two came along… You can hear me tell that story in this Podcast on Maternity Leavers!
Of course, every situation is different and you need to weigh your own set of pros & cons.
There’s no point judging anyone else’s choices. What’s right for your best friend isn’t necessarily right for you. But it’s important that the career choice you make is done consciously and with an understanding of the options open to you.
Many mothers feel trapped in an old unsuitable career after having children. Others leave work, then feel they’re not using their brains or are wasting years of education and training. Both don’t realise that their skills, experience and gifts could be shared with the world in a different way.
YOUR CALL TO ACTION!
- When facing any decision between two (or more) choices, get it out of your head and onto paper. Your mind will feel clearer and the answer will be easier to see.
- Use logic and facts: Create a Pros & Cons List. Star the most important points on each side. Which one is the winner on paper?
- Use Visualisation: ‘Feel’ your life as if you have made one choice. Then do the same for the other(s). What’s your heart telling you to do?
- Brainstorm: Are there any solutions you haven’t yet considered? Is there a way of having the best of both worlds?
- Phone a friend: If you’re still stuck, who can help you? Who’s impartial enough to hear your pros & cons, your visualisation and have an opinion you trust? Use the Project Me Power Pal Pack to team up with a friend for coaching and challenging solving!
- Hire My Mom is a website that helps mothers market their skills, experience and education to businesses that need to outsource work. Businesses need reliable, motivated, cost-friendly help. It’s a win-win situation. There’s an Australian version too at Hire My Mum.
For those of you based in the UK and thinking about a career move or returning to work, check out www.mumandworking.co.uk
OUTSIDE OF THE BOX TIP:
I highly recommend these Bach Flower Remedies:
- Scleranthus helps with indecision by encouraging a balanced mind and more stable perspective.
- Cerato is for people who lack confidence in their own judgement and tend to seek the advice of others. Once they make a decision, they continue to question it. Cerato gives them confidence in their own judgement.
- Wild Oat is useful for people at a major crossroads in life. It helps them gain confidence and clarity in choosing a suitable direction.
(Read more about Bach Flower Remedies here.)
In the comments below, please share your story. Have you made The Big Decision? Are you going through this now? Have you found a solution you’re happy with? What would you say to others who are struggling with this right now?
photo credit: snigl3t via photopin cc
Mixing practicality with self-awareness, Kelly helps mothers get on top of their endless to-do’s, set goals and improve their lives one small step at a time.
Grab her free Life Wheel Tool for discovering what needs your focus first.