Rising strong: Navigating the return to work after mat leave

Returning to work after the beautiful/exhausting/life-changing chaos of maternity leave isn't just about resuming your professional life. It's a whole whirlwind of emotions, doubts, and a quest for balance.

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As a life coach, I've walked alongside many incredible women on this journey. It's a challenging time where the expectations of being a perfect mother and a stellar employee collide, leaving women feeling torn between two worlds.

This dance between nurturing a growing family and reigniting professional ambitions can often feel like a relentless tug-of-war. The heart aches for the simplicity of uninterrupted moments with your child, yet the mind yearns for the sense of purpose found in the workplace.

Amidst this transition, there's a silent struggle — a journey often unseen, unspoken. It's the unspoken guilt of missing those cherished firsts while chasing deadlines, the silent worry about balancing childcare logistics with office commitments, and the internal conflict of feeling torn between two worlds, both of which are demanding your full attention and commitment.

It's navigating the guilt, the doubts, and the relentless questioning of whether you're doing enough, being enough, for both your child and your career.

Moreover, the challenges women face upon re-entering the workforce shed light on systemic issues such as unequal pay, limited career progression opportunities, and a lack of support for working mothers. These barriers hinder women's professional growth and perpetuate the gender gap in various industries.

If this sounds hard and daunting, it’s because, sadly it is. Bright siding is one of the reasons that as women returning to work after mat leave, we often feel emotionally alienated and internalise the pressures as our own failings. 

Firstly, be gentle with yourself. It's okay to take your time adjusting. Embrace the mix of emotions — acknowledge the challenges, in doing this you are giving yourself the grace to accept this as a hard period in your life, rather than something that should be smoother and more seamless. 

Building a solid support system is crucial. Lean on understanding colleagues, seek advice from mentors, and rely on friends and family. Having people who understand and support you is like having a safety net when things feel uncertain.

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it's essential. Find time for activities that rejuvenate you — whether it's a walk in the park or a cup of tea in silence. These moments are like oxygen amidst the chaos.

Reevaluate what success means to you. It's not about ticking off boxes on someone else's checklist. Define what success looks like in your life, considering both personal and professional aspects. 

Open communication is key. Have honest conversations with your employer about flexible work hours, childcare options, or any other needs you might have. When your needs are heard and respected, it becomes easier to find a balance.

Setting boundaries is a skill that can be learned. Designate specific times for work and family, and stick to them. This way, you can give your best in each role without feeling overwhelmed.

Lastly, remember that vulnerability is strength. Share your experiences and fears with other women going through similar challenges. You'll find solace and empowerment in this community.

This return to work isn’t just about getting back on the professional track — it’s about reclaiming your identity. It's an opportunity to redefine what balance and success mean to you. Embrace the messiness, cherish the moments of triumph, and honour this transition because within it lies huge opportunities for personal growth. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London NW11 & W1G
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Written by Lisa Hannelore, Life, Career & ADHD coach | ACC ICF Certified
London NW11 & W1G

Lisa Hannelore is an ADHD Coach for women. Her purpose is to help women realise their potential, self-advocate with confidence, build self-trust and fall in love with their beautifully nuanced brains.

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