I was 29 when I decided to return to work after having my children.
I had been out of the workforce for seven years while they were little but my qualifications were still solid. I had a Bachelors degree in Zoology and then did a computer programming course.
I was applying for a database analyst role and I will never forget the response I received from the recruiter in London. He flat out said: “We don’t hire mums.”
I was gutted. I was an accomplished professional and I had a lot to offer. What’s more, I had learnt some important lessons from becoming a mum.
It wasn’t until we moved to Australia that I was able to get a job. I was determined to get back into the workforce, even with the words of that horrible recruiter ringing in my ears.
My efforts paid off and I got a job with IBM within three months. Later, I was headhunted to work for ING. I helped build their 3.25M-strong customer data warehouse and data marts.
At this point, I was feeling much better about work. I was financially independent again and made heaps of money that helped pay off our mortgage. I was also in a position to help my hubby start his own business.
But then I found myself caught between home and children, and my professional life. I was trying to be a perfect mum, a perfect wife and perform at work at 200 per cent capacity.
I was always questioning myself, asking ‘Am I doing the right thing for kids?’ and
‘Am I a bad mum?’
I was constantly exhausted and feeling guilty. I knew something had to change because I had lost my sense of joy.
After realising this, I rearranged my work so that I could be back in time to pick the kids up from school. I then spent the whole evening with them, taking them to activities and making them do their homework.
20 years later, I am proud to say that they’ve both done really well. They’re happy and they went on to become the school captains. As adults, they both became lawyers.
What I learnt from my experience is that returning to work needs a major mindset change.
You have to let certain things go. You can’t be fussed about cleanliness, perfectionism and total time management. It’s just not possible.
Focus on self-love and find a way of working that works for you. Be kind to yourself, ask for help when you need it and work on your communication techniques so that things run as smoothly as possible.
Going back to work after taking time out can be a real challenge and it’s not for everyone. I loved it but I had to make some major readjustments in my parenting and home life so that I didn’t die from exhaustion!
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