Please don’t put a label to all working mums

By on 2014/05/01
Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 09.26.47In regards to the article published on the Evening Standard on 29th April “Baby come back” by Rosamun Urwin.
So apparently a new work scheme for mothers returning to work has been recently introduced in the UK from the other side of the Atlantic. The “Returnship” programme offers a set period of work at an affiliated company with the chance to end up in a permanent role. The programme provides training to get up to date with the industry and type of work done before going on leave, as it seems many employers and recruiters are reluctant to considerate candidates who’ve been on long maternity leaves as they believe that because they have missed updates and developments in the business it would be hard for them/us to catch up. Like if going on maternity leave was equivalent to an after  college gap year where you travel the world and forget about responsibilities. Well, maternity leave is not a holiday but an intense and hands-on training on how to take care of a life, if that doesn’t make us adaptable to change…?
Please don’t put a label to all working Mums, we are just people, we are not in any type of club or association, we have different goals and purposes in life.
Though I see the good intentions behind the people who had this idea I can’t help to think that on the contrary this will not benefit those mothers who want to go back to work, as it seems to put all mothers into the same “sack” as we all were driven by the same goals when probably having children is the only thing we have in common.

Please don’t put a label to all working Mums, we are just people, we are not in any type of club or association, we have different goals and purposes in life. And I am pretty sure that any woman that wants to work after her leave don’t need to be convinced or motivated into it, same as any woman who wishes to stay at home will not get convinced into going back to work by any scheme. There are endless different situations and possibilities for women after having children and that is because we are just individuals, with different lives and mentality, like anyone else. I only need to look around my network of friends to show you some examples: a friend who decided to stay at home because her husband travels for work and doesn’t want her child to be raised by a series of childminders; a friend made redundant at her 7th month in pregnancy, who obviously will find it hard to find a new job; another friend who was refused part-time work by her employer after her leave and can’t afford full time nursery so she has to quit the job; a friend just going back to work as before, but with grandparents support.

And then it’s me.
I took my one year leave because my family leaves in another country, my husband runs his business full time and I didn’t want to leave my baby to carers in her first year. I had clear I wanted to go back to work. As a creative professional my work defines me and serves as self-expression. After my leave, I returned to my old corporate job in a part-time basis. However,  my leave made me realised that it wasn’t where I wantes to be but had stuck to the job for far too long because of the security it gave me, when at the same time it was mining and constraining my will to progress and be what I wantes to be. So in a way, my maternity leave acted as a career coach service where I had some time to reflect on things. There is this wrong misconception that people who stay on the same job for decades are the most dedicated and career driven workers. Then again, every situation is different. Maybe they are comfortable on their jobs, maybe they just look at it as a way to pay the bills, maybe they were once told that that’s what you are  supposed to do.

I quit my old secure corporate prestigious job a year on after my leave to follow my dream. I set myself as an Independent Graphic Designer and Journalist and now I provide my services to some big brands across the UK. I have never enjoyed my job more than now, never work harder than I do now,  never been more successful and never been better paid!  I have seemed to find the work/life balance by doing things by my own, thanks to the time to reflect during my leave and thanks to the motivation of being able to provide to my family while I still care and build a career.

It is not working mums who need conviction to work and fight for career progression after having children. It is the employers and recruiters who need to be educated so they change their misconceptions about us. Each of us has already their own drive and reasons to either not to go back to work or to go back and even work harder. By labelling working mums as something and creating programmes for such a varied demography only creates more confusion to the rest of the working force by making them believe we all want the same.

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