Once you have a baby you might wonder how anybody juggles work and family life! It is possible though, really. Maternity leave is the ideal time to think about your needs and what’s a realistic working schedule for you and your family. Then when you’re ready you can speak to your employer. Here are a few tips on how to negotiate the best work/life balance for you:
If you’re returning to work from maternity leave, you have a right to ask your employer for flexible working hours – so don’t be afraid to speak up. Many employers are sympathetic to the pressures on working mums, so you might be pleasantly surprised by their response.
If you’re a good employee, then it will make sense for the company to keep hold of you even if that means being flexible on the hours you do. Write a list of all the ways you’re an asset to the company, along with the key skills and experience that make you invaluable. If you’ve been out of the workplace for some time these could include skills you’ve gained as a mother, from multitasking to diplomacy, for example.
It’s important to think about what you actually want before you speak to your boss. Do you need to work fewer hours, for example, or do you need flexibility to work the same hours to a slightly different schedule? Would it help to work one day from home? Think about what would be the best work/life balance for you and be realistic.
Start by asking for your dream scenario and make it clear that you’re willing to negotiate. If you work full time, you might want to work three days a week for example and work from 8am to 4pm on those days. Your boss may well refuse, but if you aim high, he or she is more likely to meet you in the middle with a compromise that works for both of you.
Don’t feel you have to agree to anything straight away. Ask for a couple of days to think things over. There’s no point agreeing to a scenario that’s unrealistic – you’ll end up miserable or quitting anyway, so it’s best to be brave and discuss the right terms now.
Once you have your baby, you may find your work requirements change. For some women this as an opportunity to try a different career avenue, whether that’s starting up a business from home, or a new job with a less busy schedule. A growing number of organisations are coming to understand the benefits of using part-time staff who are experienced and reliable.
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