Sandhya took a three year break after the birth of her daughter, Aaranya. When she decided to return to work, she was shocked to find that things were quite different both professionally and at the home front. There were new developments in the field that she needed to catch up with, and while her peers had moved up the ladder, she was offered a position lower than what she held before she took a break. Sandhya felt disheartened.
The home front was chaotic too. If it wasn’t the inefficient nanny, it was the complaining in-laws, the disgruntled husband, or the sick daughter. Her mother-in-law constantly complained about how Sandhya’s busy schedule was disrupting family life. Sandhya felt unappreciated by her in-laws and husband. Her life became so challenging that at one point she started wondering if going back to work was worth it after all.
If you are a mom returning to work after a break, you might be able to relate to this situation.
Some key issues faced by professional women who opt out of their career to raise children and return after a break are:
- Lack of networks
- Low self-esteem because of not being at par with peers
- Frustration of being overworked and under-appreciated
In a survey I conducted, as a part of my coaching certification, of a hundred mothers who were returning to work, I discovered that for these women, the top drivers for choosing a job or a role were to be able to lead less stressful and happier lives.
The key things that these women indicated they would like to have in their jobs in order to meet the challenges of their new situation included:
- Flexible structuring of the work day
- Ability to take varied levels of responsibility
- Ability to take time off, if required, to deal with personal emergencies
Lack of these aspects in a job was a driver for many women to quit the workforce.
Here are some things you can try for sustaining your careers when you go back to work while staying happy.
For starters, being purposeful and planned about opting out of your career will go a long way in helping you sustain your happiness. Also, once you come back, you have a new life with new challenges. You may not fit well in your old job. So, plan your comeback while you are still on a break by trying these things:
Work for fewer hours per week: You could consider doing this instead of taking a complete break from work. This will help you stay in touch with the industry and make for a smoother transition to full-time work later.
Stay in touch with your colleagues and peers – this will help you network later for jobs that you want when you start working.
Explore new career avenues: Utilize your past experience to move ahead in your role or negotiate for other roles that suit your new life. Don’t be satisfied with a lower-level role although you might consider it for an interim period while you ease into full-time work. In today’s e-enabled work, the opportunities are endless.
Explore careers that give you the flexibility of managing home and work: Spend some time designing the life you want to now have. If you don’t find a role that suits your new life, consider going solo and become an entrepreneur. You have the opportunity to press the Restart button. Why not make the most of it?
Educate yourself as a way to enhance your knowledge while you are on a career break: Invest in yourself by way of attending training and development sessions. Update your skills so you have more options for choosing different roles when you return to work.
How do I know this works? That’s because I have tried it myself. I am a mother who returned to work after taking a break to raise my daughter. Quitting my job was a critical step for me, without which, I knew I would continue to live in the world of stress, which was not how I wanted to live. So, I added to my qualifications to prepare for a different career and invested money and time in becoming a certified coach.
is a talent development expert and with over 13 years of experience in the corporate world. She is the founder of Growth Cube, a company that enables organizations to grow by providing strategy consulting related to talent development. Her flagship offering is mentoring of talent development professionals. Namrata is a professionally trained instructional designer, corporate trainer, performance consultant, small business entrepreneur, and coach. She trained at the International Coach Academy and specializes in coaching women undergoing transitions in life and at work. Namrata also actively drives and contributes to social agendas in her city.