Ask the Expert: Five Things To Consider When Returning To or Changing Work as a Mama

About the Ask the Expert Series

Welcome to the first of my ‘Ask the Experts’ series. Here I will bring local experts to the blog to help share their expertise on matters that will help parents in all sorts of ways. From professional tips for helping your child start school, to how to use a sticker chart successfully through to finding the right support for you as a Mama if things are feeling tough.


Ask the Expert: Career Coach

This month’s ‘ask the expert’ feature is from Zoe Whitby, who is an experienced local coach who specialises in helping people get the most out of their work. Here she shares five things for parents to consider if you are returning to work after a career break or are looking to make changes to your current career.

zoewhitbyI met up with Zoe a few weeks ago myself. She helped me enormously by focussing some of the ideas for my blog. Generally it was also lovely to chat to someone who was interested in ‘me’ after all this time being ‘somebody’s mum’.

I found Zoe’s session so valuable I asked her if she would mind sharing some of her expertise with you. I know a lot of Mamas out there who are thinking about returning to work after having children, heading back to the workplace after maternity leave or who want to shake up their current work/life balance but aren’t really sure where to start.

Here are Zoe’s top five tips to consider if you’re thinking about returning to work or making a change to your current work/life balance.

1.) Be clear on what’s important
For many people money is a driver. However, aside from that your life priorities will have changed and a starting point is to go back to basics and map out what’s important to you in your life now.

  • What sort of life do you want to lead?
  • How much money does that require?
  • How do you want to be spending your time?

This will affect your criteria for a job – location, hours, salary, benefits, nature of work and the flexibility required, etc.

2.) Revisit your strengths, skills, experience and knowledge
If you’ve worked before, think back to the things you enjoyed about that job, and the things you didn’t enjoy.

  • What were your strengths (how would colleagues and managers would describe you positively)?
  • Look out any profiling questionnaires you might have done to discover more about your natural strengths and pick out key words that resonate.
  • Now think about the strengths you’ve developed while being a mum and any experiences you’ve gained during this time.

All of this can be used to revisit your CV. There are some more tips on shaping up your CV over on my own blog.

3.) Build your confidenceb3f57c146e443714be624317d14b6123.jpg
The way we present ourselves has a big effect on other people– if we can transmit passion, confidence and credibility it counts for more than specific answers to questions for many interviewers.

  • So feeling good about yourself is important.
  • This starts from the inside – having belief about yourself and your capabilities.
  • Having positive self talk and an optimistic attitude is your choice.

There’s a great 20 minute video TED Talk showing how body language affects confidence and the impact of this in interviews.

Dependent on what type of job you might be going for you may want to review your wardrobe and invest in a few pieces that will work for interviews and meetings with recruitment agencies.

  • There are style consultants who can help you choose colours and shapes that work best for you and even help you shop.
  • A change of hairstyle or having a makeover can also be confidence boosting and mark a new era in your life.
  • For a free colour consultation or makeover you could host a party with a consultant for your friends and be the demonstration subject.

4.) Think about first steps
Straight back to employment may not be the best or only route for you. If you came from a particular profession you might want to refresh/update your knowledge

  • By signing up for a course or conference
  • What about volunteering?
  • Or even starting your own business?

There are hundreds of women in the Harrogate area who have set up as sole traders in a range of different businesses following their passions in a way that fits with their lifestyles.

Business Ladies around Harrogate is a non-membership monthly lunch session with a speaker where you will meet ladies running a range of different businesses from network marketing to catering, fashion, accountancy, property, financial, coaching, fitness, social media, travel, floristry, photography, PA services, etc.

5.) Build your support system

Going back to work in whatever form will bring a different pace and pattern to life. Start early by beginning to shift the split of tasks and responsibilities in your household and talking about how things would work when you are back at work.

  • Research childcare options
  • afterschool facilities
  • and flexible support for emergencies

Don’t assume or presume that family members will be as excited about you going back to work as you are – it will mean changes for them too.

Working with a coach can be a great way to get your brain back into gear and to have neutral external support during job search and interview and the first months of employment (or setting up on your own). I’m offering a no obligation 20 minute phone chat for anyone wanting to find out more. You can contact me at [email protected]

I hope you found Zoe’s information useful, I know I did when I read it. It’s great to make you think what you really want out of returning to work or making changes to your current job and all the things those considerations raise.

Watch out for some more in the series of ‘Ask the Experts’ coming soon and leave your comments below if there’s something you’d really like to see featured in this series.

Lucy xx


2 thoughts on “Ask the Expert: Five Things To Consider When Returning To or Changing Work as a Mama

  1. Thanks Zoe and Lucy – really helpful advice. Apparently Kirstie Alsopp bought herself a new handbag each time she returned to work after mat leave as a boost – any excuse! ?

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