Now you’re a mum, your career is less important – true or false?

When Jane, a previous corporate high flyer, came for her first ‘relight the fire’ session in my There’s More in Me coaching programme, we explored how overlooked and invisible she felt in her role since having her children. ‘Just because I’m now a Mum my bosses’ assume I’m no longer ambitious in my role so the opportunities that were previously earmarked for me are no longer there’. She understandably felt immensely frustrated and angered by this assumption and oversight. She was also feeling bored, stuck and stagnant and had lost confidence in her abilities due to this ‘stalemate’ situation.

Having worked hard for years to build a career and valued the role you’ve created for yourself it can be a shock to the system to realise that, once you return from maternity leave, your growth and development at work is stymied by others’ perceptions that you will somehow now be ‘less’ committed or available than before. There is an assumption that your priorities will have changed.

Yes, motherhood brings with it challenges around flexible working with other commitments – but in your time available at work you still bring your previous expertise – and now added skills and experience from your additional role as a mum.

Not just a mum

 What isn’t often appreciated is the fact that often, in becoming mothers, not only do we nurture the growth and development of our offspring but in doing so we too grow and develop – from my research with fellow mums I know we gain a wealth of skills, we learn empathy, diplomacy, responsibility, endurance, tolerance, patience and how to put  another’s needs first in caring for our newly dependent newborn.

Whilst the phenomenon of ‘baby brain’ is real, a biological imperative for our species’ survival, it is also blessedly temporary. It can be a relief to return to work to refire those parts of our brain that haven’t been challenged by motherhood and reconnect with a ‘self’ from prior to our children’s birth. Once we get over the initial ‘wobble’ in returning to work, our appetite for our own growth and develop rekindles.

Inspired and fired

In fact many mums I work with have shared that becoming a mum inspires us to be better role models for our children , to role model for them a love of learning and growth and development, as well as instils in us a desire to make a bigger contribution to the world for future generations. So to find ourselves now limited by the structure of the organisation we find ourselves working in can feel a real anathema.

How can we nurture the growth and development of others whilst our own growth and development is being stymied? There is a need to meet head on and challenge these unconscious assumptions. First regroup and consider all that you have learnt about yourself since becoming a mother. Second, consider the meaning and purpose that work now has for you. Third, consider does your current role give you the opportunities to use your skills and talents?

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