Returning to work; the difficulties facing parents going back to work after children.

Most new parents want to take some time off after having a baby. Quite often it’s the mother who stays at home as the primary carer. Although this is changing with almost 5% of two parent families having men stay home to care for children.

But what happens when the children return to school or finances dictate more income is necessary? Whether it’s been for a year or 10 years, returning to work after a breaking to care for family can be daunting.

  1. Is It Financially Worth It?

It’s easy to assume going back to work and having an extra paycheck each week will make a huge difference to your financial situation.

But there are costs involved that previously you didn’t have to bear. This involves transport to and from work, work clothes, childcare, cleaning and so on.

It helps to have an idea of what these factors will cost versus the income you expect to have. For many parents, returning to work full time isn’t a reasonable option but part time makes more sense, as it allows flexibility and reduces costs such as childcare.

  1. Who Looks After The Children?

Depending on the ages of your children, there are any number of times they’re going to need a parent at home. Children get sick, there’s curriculum days, school holidays.

Have a plan before you return to work of who is going to look after your children at these times and how reliable and flexible these arrangements are. This means you can confidently apply for positions you really want without worrying about how to manage childcare.

  1. Sharing the Domestic Load

Generally the parent staying at home takes on a fair share of the domestic chores. This includes so many small and big jobs that it’s impossible to really know what they all are – until both parents are out of the house most days a week.

Many relationship issues happen to parents around the subject of sharing the load of domestic chores. Making a plan to split these jobs between both of you and setting expectations of everyone in the family to help out can prevent arguments and resentment later.

A roster or schedule of what needs to be done and when alleviates the need for you to assume the mental burden of remembering appointments and after school activities.

  1. Getting Employed

To be honest, one of the biggest challenges parents face returning to work is actually getting a job, let alone one that fits in with their personal situation.

Legally, potential employers can’t openly say you might not be right for the role because you’ve been out of the workforce for some time and you’re a parent. And this white elephant in the interview room can be hard to address openly.

The most effective way to address this white elephant in the interview room is to show your skills are current. For example, you might not have been in the workplace while social media took over the world but you can prove you’re up to date with it.

Maximise the skills you’ve acquired during this break in your work life. Parenting teaches very important lessons in multi tasking, negotiation and time management. These are all very relevant skills to demonstrate you’re a productive employee.

  1. The Guilt

There’s no doubt we persist in thinking we can have it all and for most parents, I’s possible for at least one partner to pursue their career. Often mothers find themselves in this situation, wanting or needing to return to a much worked for career and being overwhelmed by internal and external guilt.

There is a lot of pressure on women to be great all rounders, to manage a household, raise the children and successfully return to work without missing a beat.

At the same time, they experience a lot of judgement when they ‘fail’ or because of lack of support aren’t able to maintain some areas of their life to the high standard everyone expects of them.  Many women are conditioned to believe they can cope and don’t need help, so battle on and risk their mental health.

Taking on employment as a parent means making sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and accepting you can’t do it all on your own. Confidence in yourself as a human doing the best you can and accessing support means success across all areas of your employment.

  1. You’re Not The Same Person

Becoming a parent is a life changing experience. It can be so intense that you are surprised to find you’re not the same person when you decide to return to work. This could entail looking at entirely different employment or accepting you’re less confident about your ability to maintain the same level of interest in your previous role.

Whatever way parenthood has changed you, it can be challenging to accept and move with this altered reality. Working in an industry or environment that you enjoy or at least fulfils your needs, be it financial or flexibility, can help to adjust to these changes.

Sam McCulloch is a freelance content writer and editor, with a special interest in parenting, birth and early education. Sam believes in the importance of building a village so no parent is left behind or feels unsupported. When she’s not writing great content, you can find her trying to keep up with three kids, enjoying the great outdoors or reading a good book.