Why a baby will not halt your career progression

When planning a pregnancy 56%[1] of women believe it will have an impact on their career progression. As a result, they tend to delay this decision as much as possible. No wonder why the average age of a first-time mum is around 30 years old in Europe[2].

In addition, and according to the same study, one of the most important challenges perceived is to find the right balance between professional life and life as a mother. Statistics seem to confirm it as 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period[3]. But do mums really need to choose between a fulfilling job and the responsibilities that come with motherhood?

You may be part of the women who wonder how anybody juggles work and family life. Be reassured it is possible, really. Even though it will be a busy and sometimes challenging time, maternity leave is also the ideal moment to think about your needs and what a realistic working schedule for you and your family is. Here are a few tips on how to find a balance.

Involve your spouse

We tend to undermine the important role partners play to make a work-life balance possible. Some parents decide to divide the responsibilities of home and family equally. This can start with parental leave. If your partner is eligible for paid leave, partially paid time off, or unpaid time off, this can help you start figuring out together how to be a family and prepare for the childcare solution that would suit you best. Also involving daddy in the daily routines, like feeding or bathing, not only gives you time for yourself but it helps him develop a strong bond with the children.

Arrange childcare early and hire more than one babysitter

Human resources experts say many women leave it till the last minute to arrange childcare and this can cause problems and stress making your return to work that much harder. The first thing to consider before you look at childcare is what you would feel comfortable with and what is the best childcare to suit you, your child and the way you plan to work. Options include nurseries, childminders or nannies but the most important thing is to develop confidence and trust in your childcare provider before you return. It will make those first days a little easier. And make sure to have a few names of babysitters in your phone book in case one let you down the day of an important meeting.

Organize your time

If multitasking is a skill, compartmentalizing is an art. There is no way you can give 100% of yourself to everything you do 100% of the time, but you can give 100% of yourself to one thing at a time. When you are at work, make a commitment to mentally be at work. At home, surrender yourself to the marvels of parenthood.

You may also discover that the pull of a baby can make you twice as productive in half the time. When you are eager to get home in time to feed and bathe your baby, chatting at the coffee machine may seem like a waste of your time.

Know your priorities

Nobody can do it all. Saying yes to every work and personal event is an impossible undertaking. Prioritize what works for your family instead of focusing on whether it would work for anyone else. Let’s be honest this may mean making some sacrifices and compromises: You will probably not host a fancy dinner party every night or meet your friends that often. And your house may not be as tidy as it used to be. Set realistic expectations for yourself, otherwise you will end up feeling guilty and unmotivated.

[1] According to a study conducted by Merck Consumer Health in 2017
[2] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/6829228/3-13052015-CP-EN.pdf/7e9007fb-3ca9-445f-96eb-fd75d6792965
[3] Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg




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