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Find yourself

Apart from the weight gain, hair loss, loss of inhibition and sudden fascination with bowel movements, one of the most common side effects of having a baby is a loss of confidence.

And we’re not just talking about in your abilities as a mother (let’s face it, we’re all winging it), but in doing the job you’d been doing for years before that.

You’ve gained a child, a family, a new purpose in life – but have you lost you?

So many women report that they’re no longer seen as a person in their own right, merely a mother. Combine this with the worrying number of mums who return to work when they don’t want to, or are prevented from working by redundancy or prohibitive childcare costs, and it’s clear that we’re facing a parenthood confidence crisis.

Kim Cutler, of MummyJobs coaching partner Storm McQueen, became a life coach after struggling to balance her stressful City career with looking after her two young children.

She says: “I had my first baby in 2014 and returned to work after a very short maternity leave of four months. What played heavily on my mind was the amount of hours I had worked pre-motherhood.

“I began to read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, and, from this, I took action and got the support of a life coach. After just a two-hour phone call, I had been completely taken out of my comfort zone of allowing fear to control my life.
“Much to my own shock, I immediately called my boss and said I wanted to leave!”

The difficulty of balancing the professional and the personal is a common theme among Kim’s clients.
She says: “The common challenges I see with my clients when they prepare to return to work are loss of confidence, loss of identity and worries about flexibility.

“Pre-children, the majority were able to give full focus and time to their work, post-children, they can’t possibly see how this will work. For example, if a meeting runs over, pre-kids you would just stay until it’s finished; post children, you have to collect them from nursery, so you have to leave.”

So how can a life coach help? While their job isn’t to offer advice as such, a coach will encourage you to question yourself and establish what you want out of life.

Having a clear plan and the confidence to ask for it is often the key to making a flexible working request achievable – present your employer with a solution, not a problem.

Kim says the question to ask is: “What does your ideal week look like?” Once this is defined, how does this fit around the roles and tasks? What can you propose that works for you and employer?”

Like all of us here at MummyJobs, Kim’s vision of the future is for a fully flexible working environment, where parents are valued for what they bring to the workplace, rather than judged for what they take.

“I hope that more and more organisations realise the huge loss of talent through not offering flexibility in the workplace.

“I would also love to see coaching programmes more widely used in support of returners, this has such a significant impact on employee output and wellbeing.”

If you feel you could benefit from a confidence boost, whether in your personal or professional life, check out our partners here.

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Employers! Show us your flex appeal

Returners. We all know what it means, right? Women returning to work (or not) after a career break to have a baby.

But what if women didn’t have to Return with a capital R? What would happen if they never really went away, and were able to work flexibly around motherhood?

That’s what we want to see, and, judging by our recent research, you do too.

In our survey of #MummyJobbers, we discovered that 56% of women returned to work after having a baby, and 44% stayed at home. However, of this 44%, only 19% actively wanted to stay at home – the rest felt unable to return to the workplace for a number of reasons.

And guess what? The main reason mums feel unable to return to work is the lack of flexibility. Nearly half of the mums we asked cited this as a reason, with a further 23% saying that the price of childcare put them off. With childcare costs rising faster than wages, in a lot of cases it is simply not worth working – financially, at least.

Of the women who returned to work, we were shocked that only 10% told us they were happy with their return. Again, lack of flexibility was the issue – 39% per cent wished their employer had been more flexible.

Here at MummyJobs, we don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that women are being forced out of the workplace by the lack of flexibility, to return when their circumstances change – when their children go to school, for example.

So we asked our mums what type of flexible working would have suited them best, and enabled them to return to work after standard maternity leave. Most (34%) wanted flexible start and finish times, 24% per cent each wanted the option to work from home or to work part-time, and 14% would have liked to work term-time only.

We truly believe that moving to a more flexible workplace benefits everyone. Time and time again, research has shown that workers are more productive and motivated when allowed to choose their own hours. With so much technology at our fingertips, we should be able to see a world beyond the 9-5 culture that so many businesses are fixated on.

It’s time to stop the narrow-minded focus on ‘returners’ and instead look at how we can make employment work better for everyone, so no one has to go anywhere.