The move of a woman from a career, to pregnancy, to motherhood, and then back to the working world, with the added juggle of working mum life, is a time of huge change. There is a deep seated societal expectation that we will just be able to navigate all of this shift without a care in the world… without a guidebook on how this plays out.
We are often clearly defined in our sense of self partially by our career, and when we shift into motherhood, there can often be a grieving process of our old self that occurs. Yes, we are excited to be a mum, but we are also altered inherently (it’s called matrescence) from our former identity, and this unspoken reality of deep-seated change for many women can impact on our merge back into the workforce.
There are three key elements that allow us to maintain our core sense of self when we merge back into the workforce and become a working mum. The initial one is to understand our values behind why we are going back to work, and the value we see within the job. Yes, for some women, they may have little choice due to financials and family reasons, but for others how we work may need to change to fit into this altered identity. For me, in a healing profession, it’s about service to others, and one of the greatest challenges was determining how I could be of service to others and still show up for my family.
Navigating my energy output was vital. I was thankful I could alter my work hours dependent upon my family’s (and my) needs, because the super available energy stores I used to have prior to being a mum were definitely depleted. This is where the power of part-time work and flexibility in supporting mothers is vital, combined with a sense of ease in our own health pathway. Combining this awareness with our values and priorities systems is key to finding a balance and sense of ease with returning to the workforce.
Which brings me to number two. When we become a new mum, our energy is drawn strongly to support and care for our children. In fact, our brain has created new pathways and altered it’s patterned responses so that it actually works differently once we are a mum. We need to be aware that our brain does work differently, and we now have superpowers that we bring to the table. We also may take a little longer to get our ideas out. Our super productive career brain has morphed itself during the rapid change in structure during our pregnancy, and when we return to work, it will probably function differently. This isn’t a bad thing, we just need to be aware and kind to ourself as we navigate this.
And finally, three … maintaining some time for yourself away from both family and work is vital. When we are in the midst of the busy and the rush, prioritising something for ourselves feels selfish. Yet, after recovering from my own burnout, that’s exactly what we need to do. One of the key 5 Pillars of Healthy Motherhood I’ve discovered is connection, and prioritising some time to connect with others and ourself is a key way we can stay healthy and not lose ourself. Making sure you get that weekly coffee with a girlfriend, or monthly dinner with your crew, or hike up a mountain or surf at the coast… whatever it is you do with your people, is vital to maintain our health and our self.
As a busy working mum, ensuring we aren’t lost in the day to day is vital to help prevent burnout. Honouring that yes, you are different, when you return is key, and that your energy demands are different, so priorities really matter. And finally, making sure you connect with others that you love regularly is vital. Together, these will aide your transition to working motherhood with some ease on your soul, your career and yourself.