Returning to work after having a child can be an experience new mums find daunting, having perhaps spent a few months off work caring for a new-born and in full-time ‘caring mode’ at home. It can also be extremely emotional for many mothers having to leave their child to return to their job, as they may well only be returning to work after maternity leave, as they cannot afford for either them or their partner to not both be working and in order to pay the bills.
These however, are not the only challenges working mums who have young children can face: there are many difficulties faced by many mothers as their primary concerns and the problems they face.
Childcare Cost Considerations
Unfortunately, the cost of childcare in the UK remains a perennial problem for working mothers. In research conducted by the TUC (Trades Union Congress), it was revealed that:
● The cost of childcare in London rose 7.4 times faster than the rate of wage inflation from 2008 until 2016
● The second highest area for rising childcare costs was the East Midlands
● For parents with a one-year old, costs rose by nearly half (48%) over the same period
● A single-parent working full-time and with a one year old in nursery on average spent more than a fifth of their wages in order to be able to pay childcare costs. This rose to almost 40% of their salary. In contrast, the amount for nursery costs for two parents working full-time was about 11% of each of their salaries
When returning to work, many mothers decide that they would like to choose more flexible working hours, in order to spend quality time with their young children and pick them up from nursery or school. Talking to managers and peers about your arrangement may seem like the most important step to take when organising flexible hours, however, many find that the reality of flexible hours is not always so clear-cut.
Mums can find it difficult to switch off from the working day the minute they leave the office, or find themselves working extra hours outside of work in order to meet work expectations and targets and this should be considered.
As a result of the difficulties of trying to manage your responsibilities at work as well as at home, mothers of young children can understandably, end up feeling anxious about trying to juggle so many tasks required of them all at once. It can also lead to feelings of guilt or uncertainty about what to do in addition to the fear that perhaps they are missing out on important milestones in their child’s life ad this is a lot of pressure to weigh on one person’s shoulders.
As a result, one of the biggest challenges faced by working mothers is setting limitations. Use the support mechanisms in place at work to help to try to make working life easier. This may also include talking to your manager about resetting goals and priorities that you have at work to make the workload more manageable in the short term.
In addition, it is important that you give yourself a bit of leniency. Being a working mother with young children can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be difficult and draining. It is not easy for one person to divide their attention equally between family and work at all times, but this is completely normal. Whilst trying to maintain as much as possible an equal balance between the two should be a priority, it is also essential that mothers find time for themselves too.
Find a block of quiet time for just you, and what you like to do; even if it entails just reading a book or having a long bath. Taking some time to de-stress will help you to feel re-energised and it will make it easier to return to day-to-day life and its many responsibilities when the time comes.