Are you feeling the Postpartum Recession?
It’s been a couple of months since the birth of baby and the revolving door of visitors has almost slowed to a halt. Life is feeling normal again and you’re proud of the routine that you’ve established with baby and you’re enjoying every moment at home being a mom.
As time passes and you collect one more pay cheque from what is considered governmental maternity benefits, you realize this so-called ‘pay day’ is no more than a reminder of the money you no longer have while you’re on maternity leave. How will you ever afford to give baby the world when you’re already struggling, only months out of the gate?
For many, maternity leave is a financially difficult time amidst the bliss that this little bundle of joy brings. However, unless you’re planning on returning to work early, this is the ultimate time to turn any negative frustrations from the lack of income into positive energy through professional upgrading. Even if you’re not feeling the financial pinch of maternity leave, this is the perfect time to take control of your career future.
The purpose of maternity leave is for mom (or dad) to spend time at home during the first year of baby’s life to create a bond and enjoy this important time. This time, however, also consists of many naps for baby which can ideally turn into time for you to focus on your own career needs for when you return to work.
The primary step in identifying your career needs is to determine the direction you would ideally like to see your career move. Take the necessary time to let your imagination drift to a career that would make you happy. This doesn’t necessarily mean a new industry all together, although for some it may, and it may be as simple as challenging yourself to be the best among your peers or taking your career to the next level from receptionist to administrative assistant.
Once you have decided on your career direction, write it down and identify what steps you need to take to get yourself from where your career was when you left for maternity leave and where you ideally would like your career to be.
Do you need to upgrade computer skills, improve industry knowledge or enhance your organizational and multitasking skills? What do you need to improve or develop to get yourself to the next level? Is there an association that you can dedicate one evening per month to network with other professionals?
Remember to be realistic in setting your goals and do not push yourself towards goals that are unattainable during your time on maternity leave. After all, your priority during this time is baby and you don’t want to compromise any time with him or her. Your return to work needs to be one filled with happy memories and not one filled with regret having not spent enough time with baby.
Once again, the importance of writing down your goals, how you’re going to achieve them and setting a due date can’t be overstated. The process of writing this information down makes the goals real and also provides you with a ‘roadmap’ to your success.
As time goes on and you find yourself achieving these smaller goals towards your ultimate career goal, you will feel the satisfaction of taking control of your career destiny. This feeling will encourage and motivate you to continue pushing forward in your quest for career satisfaction.
It is important to update your resumé as you develop new skills or upgrade existing ones to a new level, if you join an association, or if you volunteer time towards an organization. This is, after all, the reason for this whole process – to enhance your career and ultimately earn a greater income.
Maternity leave truly is a special time and it is possible to find balance in all areas of your life to create comfort and satisfaction. Remember that only you can control your future through the decisions that you make. The financial strain of maternity leave is only temporary so enjoy your time with baby and take advantage of any free time that can be dedicated to your career.
Further information about achieving life balance and career satisfaction while on maternity leave can be found in the newly released book titled From Colic to Career written by Valora Douglas. The book is available for purchase through Indigo books, McNally Robinson or online at www.momenta.ca.