Returning to work after motherhood

Ahead of US Mother’s Day on Sunday, we are exploring the challenges women meet when they go back to work after maternity leave through the experience of Tina Tailor, our UK-based Twitter coordinator.
 
“Returning to work after having children was a challenging time for me. I hadn’t been to an interview in over eight years. I felt vulnerable because I had lost my confidence in myself as an individual and I was starting all over again. I forgot how to just be me. I thought that it wasn’t possible to have a career and be a mother at the same time -- I couldn’t do both. For a very long time this belief stopped me from going back into the workplace. I felt like I was better off being at home because my children’s needs were greater than mine.
 
After graduating from university, I had accepted a role with a local council as I was in the process of getting married and planned to start a family soon after. During my maternity leave, I became aware that I couldn’t continue in this role, which involved evening meetings, and look after small children. Consequently, my contract was not extended. Three years later, I had another child and before I knew it, I was a stay-at-home mum for five years.
 
I went back to work in 2016, when my youngest was two. Working part time meant that most of my wages went on child care. Working was costing me more than staying at home! It was only in April this year that I started to keep part of the wages for myself. I’m not the only one: childcare costs in the UK are so high that a lot of mothers are better off financially if they stay at home.  However, I felt that I had to start somewhere because there was a gap in my career.
 
Another reason why I wanted to work is the benefit of the environment. Doing my job simply makes me happy. I am supported by management, my colleagues are great to work with, and I am improving my skills set. My supervisor is studying part time and was required to coach a colleague as part of her course. I volunteered as she is the same age as me and has two children, like me. The sessions have been useful as I am learning strategies for my career development and it’s great to be part of a working relationship where two women support one another.
 
Focusing on my career and being a mother is a juggling act. I face different challenges every day, both at home and in the workplace. Many people talk about finding a balance but I’m not sure if there is a balanced life. I think we’ve got to keep doing what makes us happy and having a career makes me happy.”