Yesterday, I spoke to a room full of like-minded mums about to return to work from maternity leave and start the juggle of work and family life. Looking back at how I felt before I embarked on this journey, similar to becoming a mum for the first time, nothing really prepares you for it.

Nothing prepares you for the knots in your stomach when you realise you have to leave the office to collect your child but are being prevented from doing so because of transport issues. Nothing prepares you for the pressure you feel under from every part of your life to have everything perfectly worked out. And nothing prepares you for the ache you carry with you every day as you miss your child more than words can express.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association

After I’d answered lots of questions after yesterday’s talk, I was approached by a lady who has set up her own business as she tries to make the juggle work for her. What she said made me smile in a realisation of how far we have all come as working mums. “In years to come,” she said, “these mums will look back at your talk and realise exactly what you were saying. Right now, they might not get it, but I sat and nodded my way through your talk because it’s so true.”

The things I talked about for those new mums returning to work, also apply to you as a working mum too. The most important takeaway of them all is that you absolutely do have options and you have a choice. Knowing this and choosing to act on it, can be incredibly liberating.

The thing is, when I was set to return to work after my year’s maternity leave with my son, I didn’t feel as if I had a choice. We needed the money, and because of the financial incentives offered for me to return full time for six months, I felt trapped. It meant that I didn’t explore my options.

But you absolutely do have a choice and there are so many things that you can think about doing. If you’re concerned that your current employer isn’t going to be flexible, first ask them about your options for returning. If they say they just want you back full-time in your role, at least you know where you stand.

If, of course, this isn’t going to work for you, then you can think about an exit strategy. The big thing to remember in all of this is that you’re in control. It’s your life and no one should make you feel as if they’re dictating how you live it.

Options could include returning, but starting a side hustle and building that side hustle up so that it will become your exit strategy. You could look for another more flexible role closer to home so you limit the daily commute.

There are great sites in the UK especially such as 2 to 3 Days and Timewise that post out relevant jobs for returners or mums in particular. If you know you definitely don’t want to return and are feeling overwhelmed with everything that lies ahead, think about what you’re qualified to do ie what is your zone of genius. Could you focus on providing your skills to a niche market on a freelance basis whilst you figure out what else you want to do?

I know of mums who have bought baby class franchises, have become yoga and pilates instructors, who have used their maternity leave to re-train and become laser focused on how they want their lives to be, both now and further down the line, whether that’s working just three days a week or full-time but with home-working as an option.

You see, once you start looking at the options you’re opening yourself up to opportunities. These are opportunities that might not have otherwise been there before because you were so focused on one particular outcome with tunnel vision.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association
You’re a mum, so you’re already amazing

The most important thing in all of this is to believe in yourself. You’re a mum, so you’re already amazing. Now take that fire inside of you to either get a promotion at work (but make it work for you), re-train or find yourself something that is going to complement, not hinder the juggle of work and family life.

Good luck with it all – and please let me know how you’re getting on as I love hearing from you about your journeys. Our journeys are just that; ours. And no one’s is every the same – each is as unique and special as you and your children… x

PS – The waitlist for the Working Mum Association Members Club is now open. To register your interest visit HERE