My mumifesto for mum returners
After enrolling in a Graduate Diploma in Law last September I’ve learned a few things that might be of help to mums about to go back to education or work. This is my manifesto for mum-returners.
Confidence: It needs practice
It’s easy to dispel ‘lack of confidence’ as a myth that stops women achieving their full potential… until you spend 6 months at home with a human that can only communicate via crying. As a woman who went from teaching confidence skills to one who could barely look anyone in the eye I know what that feels like.
Imposter syndrome comes to us all. There are plenty of baby books on the shelves, but these can often do more damage than good when it comes to mums having confidence in their own abilities.
What I say to women is tell yourself you can… and eventually you will. My lovely mate Amy is the owner of the brilliant I Can Cards – check out her insta-feed for some pointers and affirmations in growing your confidence. @ICanCards
Something’s gotta give
We live in the age of the Supermum, but do you really know anyone who ‘has it all’? The high-flying career, the perfect family life, the picture-perfect home, the me time, gym time, sex life, ability to go to the loo in peace… If you do know that woman, be brave and ask her how she does it. I’m quite sure she will tell you that something really does have to give.
When I decided to return to university I realised that I have to give up caring that my husband buys the wrong biscuits when he does the weekly shop and that my favourite blouse is rarely going to be worn unless creased.
Most importantly, don’t learn this lesson the hard way… many mums add in a new dimension to their lives yet neglect to give up one of the other plates they are juggling, and like gravity they all come crashing down to the detriment of her mental health.
Deflect from saying yes
I’ve read so many articles on how women say yes too often, but very few that give you practical skills on avoiding tasks that inevitably end up on your list instead of someone else’s. I have a few secrets though…
You may be pleasantly surprised at how some of these things get done without turning into the dreaded nag! If they don’t, drop some less than subtle hints that this is a team list that everyone needs to contribute to achieving.
Turn the conversation around. Recently I had comments coming from all directions about my kids’ unruly hair. I did have a trip to the salon on my list but it kept dropping off as less important, so I told family members that they were welcome to tick this job off if it bothered them so much… and both kids came home with Daddy one day looking less like Cousin It. This method works just as well in the office too.
It’s the big one. You need a plan in place to go back. What will your hours be? Who will do the school/ nursery drop offs? Who will pick up the slack on housework, dinner or how can little hacks help to stop you being over loaded?
Talk to your partner, your family AND your employer about how it’s going to work. You can also look to organisations where you can get support or put plans in place to ease the pressure.