When you leave school or university you probably have some kind of an idea of jobs you’d like to do or could do. You likely work in a domain for a few years and climb the career ladder. Then you decide to have kids and often everything falls apart. Suddenly the idea of career and motherhood seems mission impossible.
- you realise you don’t want to go back to work after maternity leave.
- your job is completely incompatible with the role of a mum.
- you just don’t have the energy to continue with that kind of work.
- you need flexibility that your employer can’t offer you.
- you no longer enjoy the work you did previously.
- your child has special needs which require a great deal of your time and presence.
There are a million and one reasons why you don’t / can’t / won’t return to your original career or job and every single one is ok.
You don’t need to justify your decision and anyone who tries to make you feel bad should be ignored, as they don’t have to live with your life choice, day in, day out. But you do.
In some countries there is stigma over being a stay at home mum, in other places you are seen as a bad mum if you go back to work before your child is a certain age.
I want to reassure you right here, right now, that whatever you choose that feels right for YOU, is right for your child too.
I had my eldest daughter, Léna, in France and my youngest daughter, Clémence, in the UK.
I went back to work the day Léna turned 3 months old, against my wishes, and this is what I had to say goodbye to for 9 hours every day, 4 days a week. And I’m certain that this was a big contributing factor in me developing postnatal depression (something that I only realised I had had years later when Clémence was a baby).
I was a working mum but I was miserable.
Understanding the motherhood vs career balance
Several years later we moved to London from France, when Léna was 3 years old, and I really felt the need to be working as I wanted to spend time with adults, to make friends and to get out of the house. But for several months I needed to be a stay at home mum as we got settled. I hated it and I was miserable.
Not only did I hate being a SAHM but I was a shit mum to Léna. I spent every day with her, but didn’t want to be there, so we did nothing. I was resentful and bored. Luckily after a few months I was able to start working and went from being around 24/7 to being out of the house from 8am until 7pm, Monday to Friday.
I had just over an hour of awake time daily with Léna during the week, yet I was a far better mum to her. I was happy and fulfilled which meant when I saw her she got the best of me.
Fast forward a few years and I had a 6 year old Léna and a 6 month old Clémence. I was due to return to my job of Account Director in a digital marketing agency after my maternity leave when I made a decision that shocked the hell out of pretty much everyone I knew.
I chose to walk away from this great job, that I loved, to retrain as a childminder, as someone not so kindly said to me at the time “to wipe pooey bums and snotty noses”.
I knew I didn’t want to be a miserable working mum. I knew I didn’t want to run the risk of getting PND again. I knew I didn’t want to be a stay at home mum. And it felt like I’d found the perfect solution.
The balancing act doesn’t have to be 50/50
When you have a baby people don’t tell you that you can change your path, that you can try out different options, that you don’t have to keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I wish I’d known this with Baby Number One.
Whilst working as a childminder I blogged – on my (now retired) Franglaise Mummy parenting blog and mine and Ben’s (now retired) Franglaise Cooking food blog, I wrote a bilingual children’s book and I created the basis for my first online language courses, Fun and English for French-speakers and Fun and French for English-speakers.
I also plunged myself into self-learning, reading, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries and doing courses, which led me to where I am and what I do today.
It makes me so sad when mums feel like there is only one path for them after having their children. Whether that is when their babies are young, once they start school, or when they leave home.
The world is a very different place to the one my mum parented in back in the 70s and 80s; there are so many options open to us now. The world literally is our oyster.
Good news, I can teach you that both career and motherhood can coexist!
So if you are wondering what step to take next in your career now you’re a mum do share your question in the comments below, I’d be happy to help out. And if you want more personalised, ongoing help do check out my Life Reboot Camp, as this is a subject we cover in the Parenting module, in the Work & Career module and in the Decision-making & Facing your Fears module.
Whatever you do, don’t feel like your options are limited, instead learn from the mistakes I made and the lessons I went through on my way here.
One last thing before you go, feel free to click and Pin this post Should you balance your career and motherhood? to refer to later.
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