Returning to Work after an Extended Maternity Leave

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it's 2020? I remember bringing in 2000 at a community hall and thinking that we might all just cease to exist at the stroke of midnight. I was 9 years old. Here we are 20 years (WHAT?!) later and I am a wife and mother of two. I DEFINITELY was not thinking 20 years ahead as I sipped my virgin punch at that party.

For many people, a new year signifies new beginnings. Your goals might be health-oriented (ie. losing weight, drinking more water, exercising more, eating less junk food, etc.). Maybe you want to clean up some of your relationships, ending toxic ones and embracing those that lift you up to be your best self.

My new beginning this year is that I am attempting to re-enter the workforce after being home with my kids for the past 2 years (gulp!). To say I am nervous is an understatement because:

  1. For over two years I have been singing, dancing, playing Playdoh and coloring. I have not been having professional conversations or attending business meetings.

  2. My kids idolize me; the world does not.

  3. I have grown accustomed to wearing leggings and sweaters nearly every day, and only sometimes look presentable for the public.

  4. My whole world has been encased in the walls of my home; I feel disconnected.

When I decided that I was ready to return to work, the first thing I did was pull out my resume.

As expected it needed to be updated. No big deal. Except it was a big deal because where there was once a consecutive, consistent stream of work experience, there was now a chunk of time where I had nothing to list.

"But that can't be", I thought to myself. "I have been so busy for the past two years."

This is where I hit my roadblock, the one that said 'YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS RETURNING TO WORK'.

Let me tell you, this was a tough thought to shake. It's so easy to doubt yourself when society has drilled into your head that you can't take time off work and expect to be hirable immediately when you are ready. Perhaps what is worse is that motherhood is celebrated . . . that is until you want to be a mother AND a working professional. Now, this isn't always the case. We have come a long way in accepting that sometimes mothers want to have a career and children, balance if you will.

So how come when I researched how to include being a stay at home mom on my resume, general consensus was to not include it? Did I do absolutely nothing for two years? Did I not learn any valuable skills? Did I royally screw myself by not returning to work as soon as my formal maternity leave ended?

Here's my answer to all of these questions: NO.

NO. I did almost more than I could handle for two years.

NO. I learned too many valuable skills to count.

NO. I don't think I royally screwed myself. If anything, I can now find a company to work with who will value what I have done throughout my time at home with my kids, a company that is worthy of my time management skills, organization, quick-thinking, and compassion.

People, there is nothing wrong with extending the time that you have at home with your children. If you are able to do it, it is an absolute blessing. I do not and will never regret the amazing time I have spent with my kiddos. We don't know how much time we have on this planet, and I want to make sure I can spend as much time with my little ones as possible.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with wanting to return to work. I am an educated woman and am hoping to one day further expand my credentials. For now, I would like to create a balance of being a mother and a driven career woman. I want to show my daughter that she can absolutely do both, should she choose to one day.

SO, what steps am I taking with my return to work?

  1. As mentioned, I have updated my resume.

  2. I am researching what potential jobs are available in my field.

  3. I am sending out emails to places that interest me and doing my best to network.

  4. I am sending all of my positive vibes to the universe that I will be successful.

Of course, positive vibes and wishful thinking alone will not get me to where I want to go. It will take hard work and dedication. More than this, it will take vulnerability. This is the scariest part. To be vulnerable is to open yourself up to criticism and possible failure. It may seem futile but I promise that all of the visions worth pursuing started with someone who just wasn't quite sure if his/her vision would even work in the first place.

And so, with this in mind, I open myself up to failure and I promise myself that I will continue to march on even if I fall flat on my face.

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