“I realised I was so into my mum role that I was resentful of my job taking my time away. I needed to get it unjumbled in my head, and your coaching got me in the right frame of mind to apply for a better job. Since we last spoke on Skype I have got a full-time job as Head of Department at a school. I do not think I would have got to the position of applying for it had it not been for your coaching sessions.”
AN, coaching client
Maternity coaching has developed over recent years and it benefits both employees and employers. The latter is in response to the need to retain women in their jobs and careers. Returning to work might be six or 12 months after the birth of your baby or it could be a few years into the growth of your family. There are also other circumstances where women and men choose or need to take a career break.
Maternity coaching helps women to manage the transition back to work after this break. The goals for the employer in helping employees to return to work are usually the effective resumption of the person’s career, and coaching helps the employee build confidence to return and to explore the basis on which they will return. If you are an employer looking to offer returners a way back into productive and fulfilling employment I can help you to offer a coaching programme.
While this increase in ‘returnships’ is welcome it is mostly among the large corporates. Women working for smaller companies, or who are self-employed, are less likely to have access to this opportunity. So if you are an individual who doesn’t have access to a returner programme you might consider personal coaching. Going back to work and leaving your baby with childcare for the first time can be emotionally and practically demanding. You can doubt your own abilities to do your job again and find yourself rushing between work and nursery. And, sadly, there is a strong possibility you will face discrimination.
Provided you take ordinary maternity leave your employer should offer you your old job back, or negotiate one that is equivalent and suits your needs (although they are not required to offer you a part-time role). A report in 2016 from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, however, says half of all women returning to work experience a negative effect on their career. Many employers prefer to transition women out of the business or sideline them. Many women find they are made redundant or that they go back to lower level jobs on return, and miss out on promotion. Many find full time work too demanding in the early years of family life. This obviously becomes very distressing at a time when your emotions may not be at their most stable, post-childbirth.
It is an obvious thing to say that childbirth changes women, and even when your employer welcomes you back to your job you can experience stressful feelings and circumstances. For instance:
- Questioning your decision to return to work
- Feeling guilt at leaving your baby to childcare
- Loss of self-confidence and questioning your competence
- Focussing on errors you make
- Feeling guilt at going home on time, not ‘pulling your weight’
- Rejecting promotion as it conflicts with family life
If this is your experience it is time to take matters into your own hands! The maternity coaching I offer allows you to explore the emotions and potential conflicts that you experience going back to work. It also gives you the time and space to consider your choices.
You decide on the goals of the coaching which might be:
- Plan a strategy for balancing your job and family demands
- Consider asking for a part-time position or job share
- Consider whether some home-working is feasible
- Work out the best childcare
- Develop ideas for becoming self-employed
- Consider alternatives to returning to you job
- Work out finances
- Learn ways of reducing stress
Maternity coaching can be for just a few sessions or over the first few months of returning. It is a blend of support and planning, even thinking about a different job or career. Whatever you might like to do, I will be your guide and cheerleader!