The reason that I do the job I do now is because I wanted a career after having kids. I was successful, ambitious and willing to work hard… but suddenly my career felt like it had been halted because I had had a child. It hadn’t of course but it really, really felt that way.
I realised that I wanted to help other women in this situation and so here we are. As a mum who is still successful, ambitious and willing to work hard but who wants to work around her family I want to share with you what I have learned about having a career after having kids.
Is it possible to have a career after having kids?
Short answer: yes. It is absolutely possible to have a career after becoming a parent. I have seen it.
This wouldn’t be a very good blog post if that was my answer though, would it? Allow me to expand. I think for many people having children changes what you think about as your ‘career’. Whether it’s that your values have changed or your circumstances require a change in your career the first step is to start where you are now.
For some mums (and dads) they don’t want to return to a previous company, role or environment. One of my clients was telling me that she could have stayed in a £100K/yr job but she realised that she didn’t want the pressure of that kind of role. Other mums thrive on the pressure and challenge of a high flying role. It is entirely personal to you and depends on what your life looks and feels like.
What is important to you?
Take a week and find pockets of time (about 3 hours total) to think about what’s important to you in terms of:
- What your working week might look like
- How much pressure you would like from your role (and what that pressure looks like for you)
- What kind of flexibility you might want/need
What are your strengths?
You might be already rolling your eyes or brushing off this question with an ‘I have no idea’. One of the things I do in my group coaching sessions is to put people in pairs and get them to talk about a positive experience. The other part of the pair simply listens and as they hear the strengths in the story, they note them down. Some examples might be:
- talking to others (perhaps roping them into helping you out!)
- encouraging others
If you are really struggling, or if you don’t have someone to listen to you then think about what your best friend would say about you when you are being your best self. Better still, call them and ask.
Making career decisions with clarity
Combining all this information gives you a clear starting point to make your career decisions. It means that when you come to decide about applying for or accepting a role you will know whether it meets your requirements and skill set.
What about confidence?
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But one thing I know from being a mum myself and talking with other mums is that confidence can be low. If you feel like you have lost confidence in yourself and your career then the key thing is to challenge those thoughts. So for example:
- if you feel like you have no skills – think about a time when you were successful – what skills did you use?
- if you feel like you won’t be able to get back into the workplace after having time out, talk to someone who is in the workplace and find out where your gaps might be
- if you feel like you can’t change career, talk to someone who has (e.g. me!)