Are you pregnant and wondering about the transition back to work after giving birth? Or a new mother who’s pondering the possibility of staying at home for a while before going back to the boardroom? You may even be a stay-at-home-mum who is thinking of returning to the workforce. But no matter which stage of the motherhood journey you are on, the $64,000 question in your mind is probably “When should I go back to work and how should I do it?”
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously returned to the office two weeks after giving birth to her son Macallister in 2012. In 2009, former French justice minister Rachida Dati went back to work just five days after giving birth to her daughter by caesarean section.
We’re not suggesting that you do the same – unless you really want to of course! You’re head over heels in love with your little one, and want to spend all your time with her while giving her the best possible life ever, right? So hold on. Enjoy your new mum moments as you integrate this new position into the range of roles that you already perform – as a wife, a sister, a daughter, a neighbour, and a friend.
After 3 Months: Carve Out Flexibility
If you are already employed and enjoying maternity leave at the moment, think about going back to work after three months. Sher-Li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work, a social enterprise that strives to help women find work-life balance, says that this is a good idea as it gives you the option of spreading out the last month of maternity leave.
How to do it? Sher-li suggests a “flexibility-via-maternity leave” scheme, in which you take only the first three months of your 16-week maternity leave entitlement and spread the last month out over a year. She explains how she did this after her firstborn’s birth. “I went back to work after three months of maternity leave, and worked half a day instead of a full day every Friday until the last month of maternity leave was used up.”
This could eventually be converted into a permanent flexible work arrangement, giving you an earlier start to the weekend, and more cherished time to spend with the kids. Which mum wouldn’t want that? “Ask the company if such a policy exists, or if your employer can work something out. If you have to, structure it yourself and put it down on paper so that everyone understands and knows when you will be around, and when you will not,” Sher-Li advises.
Anytime at all: Do Part-time or Freelance Work
The Marriage and Parenthood Study released in January 2013 reflected that more married women with children would rather work part-time. The jump in these numbers, from 19 per cent in 2007 to 40 per cent in 2013, suggests that more mothers want work-life balance.
It looks like salary and reputation may not be the most important factor for finding a job; these mums prefer one that that offers more time spent with the family, a chance to (finally!) sleep in, or just hang out with fellow mums over a coffee or a manicure.
Freelance work is another option. With a device and a wi-fi connection, you could work practically anywhere! If home is too distracting, just power up that lap top at one of these mum-friendly co-working spaces in Singapore. You’ll get to widen your professional and social networks at these places too!
By 3 Years: Watch out for the 3-year Limit
If you have been out of the workforce for more than three years, finding a job may be a stretch. “Anything more than three years is a challenge for employers especially if you have not done anything related to work. It is also industry-related, for instance, in IT, even a year or two is too long,” cautions Sher-Li.
So if you do intend to return to work after giving birth, be conscious of the time spent away. Being out of action may also lead to a dip in your confidence when you finally decide to make that plunge back into the job market. “Some mothers tell me they don’t dare to go for the interview, or that their children are too young, or that their husbands say they are not good enough,” shares Sher-Li.
In the meantime: Put your Resume Online
Okay, you may not be searching for a job. After all, you love the one you have. Or you may just be having such a great time with the little one, at home. Don’t worry, we’re not trying turn you back into a statistic. Life is more than paper pushing, isn’t it?
But putting your resume out there means that jobs can come looking for you. And who knows, one of them may be the one that you had been dreaming of all your life. Even if you already have a job, there’s no harm creating a searchable profile with job search sites to open yourself to more and better opportunities.
JobStreet.com, for instance, has over 45,000 job listings from top employers. These are updated daily, with employers also searching the database for candidate profiles that fit. So log in, set up a profile, upload your CV, and use the tools available to give yourself and your loved ones the potential for a better tomorrow. The sky’s the limit, and the world’s at your fingertips.
All the best!
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