Top tips for returning to work after maternity leave

As women, we often feel as if we are disadvantaged in the working world. Be it the ongoing debate surrounding the gender pay gap, sexism in the workplace, or simply having a gruelling day whilst on our period – it can feel like a constant battle, whether you’re working in an entry level fashion job or a more senior position.

Yet, a time which should be the happiest in our lives can often be one filled with the most angst; and that’s the challenge of returning to work after maternity leave. Suddenly it feels as if that bubble of elation you’ve spent the last year in explodes, and the harsh reality of returning back to the office looms – particularly if you weren’t loving your job before the break.

Statistics regarding life post-maternity leave aren’t great right now – with 1 in 3 women leaving work within two years of going back. I’m here to tell you that instead of returning to work being a time of worry, possibly resentment, and often frustration, the decision to return to your career after maternity leave can instead be one of the most exciting times in your lives – it can even be a time for reinvention. 

After I had my second daughter I decided to rethink my situation. I knew I wanted (and needed!) to work, yet I didn’t have the flexibility of grandparents at my disposal to look after the kids, and let’s be frank – for a lot of us childcare isn’t the most economic option, so I decided to set up my Manchester based fashion recruitment agency from home (as well as further in the North West). This may not suit everyone, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only other option.

Whilst maternity leave is a time of rest, recuperation, and all important bonding time with your newborn, it’s also the opportunity for you to reconsider your own career, especially as you near the end of your time off. If you’re happy in your job, but could be happier, or feel as if your new situation needs to be adapted – speak to your manager, you’re unlikely to be the first person they’ve come across who needs a professional change after childbirth. Take this opportunity to negotiate and test new limitations. Do you need shorter hours? Would you prefer to work from home sometimes? Communicate with them and see how supportive they are, it’s also the perfect time to learn if its the place you want to continue your career – and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

However, some people may not be so supportive, may not have the resources, or you simply could feel like the time is right to move elsewhere. This could be the perfect chance for a fresh start, childbirth is something that will change you, so a new opportunity could be a natural turning point. Whilst this may seem like a minefield, speak to recruiters like myself – in an industry like the fashion one, whilst things are constantly changing I can give you advice on how the market is looking, and we can work in unison on finding the next best move for you, fashion agencies can become the friend you need in an often lonely time. 

Whilst the tough working world can often make women feel like they have less control, especially after they’ve taken a break from their careers, I’m here to tell you that it’s exactly the opposite! There are many women out there with successful careers and great families, it’s really not a matter of sacrificing one for the other. So instead of worrying about what could be, get excited – now is the time to remember how valued you are, both as a mother, and a businesswoman – before you know it you could be achieving a new fashion job, in Manchester and beyond!