Motherhood and mat leave can give you distance and perspective to consider a new career path – but where do you start?
You may have been doing the same job for five years, but suddenly you have this massive urge to take that photography/design/cooking hobby and turn it into something more lucrative.
So, if having a baby has left you feeling inspired to change careers, get clued up on how to go about it.
Understand your motivation
Work out why you’re thinking about something new. Is it a deep yearning? Or are you worried about returning to your current job? If it’s the latter, it’s worth giving yourself a few months back to adjust – perhaps you just need time to settle and see if you can make it work.
And if you do want to go ahead, think about starting something on the side or part time so you can ease into it gradually.
‘Having a baby can make you reflect and think about how much your career satisfies you,’ says Jessica Chivers, author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House UK £10.99) and part of our Working Mums Panel. ‘You may also be exposed to new people who give you ideas.’
Still keen? Get started by honing in on your idea.
Be lead by your interests
Once you’ve made the decision to change careers, tap into what drives you. Maybe you get fired up by an issue in your local paper or you know your real interest lies in charity and volunteering.
‘Think about what you love that you’re not paid for,’ says Jessica. ‘This can help you think about a potential new avenue.’
Talk to your partner
Pre-baby, the biggest factor influencing a life change was affording that second holiday. Now, it’s your family.
Think about what you love that you’re not paid for
‘It depends on the roles you and your partner play – who is the breadwinner, for example – but keep him in the loop, especially if you changing jobs will affect him financially or childcare-wise,’ says Jessica.
‘Explain what you’re thinking but always in terms of the family and brainstorm how it’d work together.’
Seek advice and support
Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you. ‘There’s a psychological school of thought called self-efficacy – basically, if you believe you can do something, you’re more likely to achieve it,’ says Jessica.
Go through pros and cons with friends, family or enlist an independent career coach who really knows their stuff.
Whether you’re interested in teaching or photography, find someone in the business, even if you don’t know them, and build your contacts. ‘Ask if you can buy them a coffee, have a chat and maybe shadow them for a day,’ says Jessica. ‘They’ll be flattered, and perhaps you can offer a skill in return – your PR experience could help their company, for example.’
Actually make time for these appointments, so you aren’t distracted. ‘Can you get childcare for Saturday mornings or that half-day you’re not at work each week to set things up,’ says Jessica. Check out professional networking events too – but make sure they’re really relevant to your interest so you don’t waste time.
Get interview savvy
When you’re taking a career detour, your CV might not be an obvious fit for a position, so keep getting experience and talking to people – lots of opportunities come up through recommendations.
Have an interview? ‘Show your enthusiasm and evidence of your interest in the sector,’ says Jessica. ‘And come ready with lots of examples of how conscientious you are – that’s a big plus point for employers.’
What’s your dream career now you’re a mum? Let us know on the comments board below.