Any working woman looking forward to starting a family or thinking about maternity leave should also think about whether or not they will work after they become a mother. If they decide that they wish to return to work after maternity leave, then it is best to be prepared for this, both mentally and physically.
When I was expecting my first child I accepted that going on six months leave and even the fact of having a child will put my career back by far more than six months in the immediate- and the long-term. This turned out to be the case and being prepared for it meant that it wasn’t as painful to deal with – I had decided that this was one of the costs of having children and that it was a small price to pay.
What I also learnt from the first time was that when you go back things won’t necessarily be the same. With my second and third children I left myself notes of everything I did, what projects or changes were coming up and also what I thought would be happening when I got back. I saved this along with all of my work codes and passwords. This document kept me in good stead when I returned to work after the birth of gorgeous and found that my job had changes, my manager had changed and I had no support. I did however have all of the information and system access data that I needed to get on with my work.
Other things that helped were: asking my manager to send me any office notices and newsletters so that I could keep up-to-date (not that I read these), calling my manager before I came back to remind her that I still existed and visiting the office with the new baby to prepare myself and the staff for the idea that I would be back.
After all of that preparation though the most important thing though is to be clear that this is what you want. You will have to balance home, child, work, partner and personal time and this becomes very exhausting and depressing if you are pushing against what you really want, but exhilarating if it is your hearts desire. Although many of us have to work due to financial pressures, we still have the option to try and do work that is meaningful for us and fulfills us.
"...many working mothers do struggle with a balance in their lives. While I believe that time management is a big key, I also believe that much of it comes out of an inner struggle of what working mothers actually want." – Angela Thomas-Jones