By Lucy Wyndham
Mothers in Canada take on average 44 weeks of leave following the birth or adoption of a child, and 67% return to
work after maternity leave. While many women will return to the jobs they held prior to having a baby, others may garner new perspective in their time away from work and choose to take their career path in a new direction. Becoming a parent is a new phase of growth and development, and you may begin to access potential in yourself that you never knew you had before. New mothers may also find the need for greater flexibility and better work-life balance as a motivating force in changing careers.
Reevaluating Your Career While on Maternity Leave
30% of the workforce changes careers every 12 months, which means that by the end of your maternity leave, you may be due to try something different. You may have felt dissatisfied with your job prior to becoming a parent, and found time during maternity leave to plant the seeds of moving in a new direction. Perhaps you found time to enroll in a course or a flexible way to make money from home while on leave, and are now ready to focus on honing and capitalizing on your new skill set.
Perhaps you tried returning to your previous place of employment, and found that while your capabilities and attitude toward the job remained the same, the way you’re treated in the workplace shifted. If you’ve been left out of the loop on important decisions while on maternity leave, if you’ve been passed up for a promotion, or if you find yourself with fewer responsibilities after returning, this constitutes discrimination and could be brought to HR.
Identifying Your Goals and Choosing a New Direction
For many new mothers, a 9-5 schedule no longer fits, and more flexible work hours are necessary for a sustainable career. Work-from-home jobs can minimize the expense of childcare, and allow you to be there for doctors appointments, playdates and walks to the playground. Working at a school or daycare also allows you to be home when your child is home, and may offer reduced tuition benefits for employees, helping you save money on your child’s education. You may also find yourself moving in the opposite direction and viewing the end of maternity as a time to shift your focus back to yourself and your personal ambition.
Job Searching and Interviewing with a New Baby
Looking for a job can consume a lot of time and energy, which are hard to come by when you’re raising a young child. Designate time when your child is sleeping or when your partner is home to scour job boards, send out resumes and write cover letters. If you’re switching fields entirely, you may need additional training or certifications to qualify for the jobs you want. If possible, choose online classes, which better accommodate your schedule and allow you to learn from home.
To schedule interviews, you will need a dependable source of childcare with last-minute availability. Your partner may need to take a day off, or you can look for a drop-in daycare center in your area. Potential employers are not allowed to ask about your familial status during your interview; however, if you feel like telling your interviewer about accommodations you may need as a new parent, or if you want to explain that the gap in your employment history is due to maternity leave, you may do so.
The changes that come with having a new baby can alter your perspective on many aspects of life. A career that made sense before having a child may no longer fit with your lifestyle or the person you’ve become. Whether you’re starting a new job or returning to your previous place of employment, take steps to ensure that the transition back to work goes smoothly without sacrificing your career goals or overall wellbeing.
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