It's mid-morning, you're covering a client meeting for a colleague who's on holiday when the nursery calls to say your daughter has fallen off the slide and banged her head. She needs to be collected now...
These are familiar scenarios to many working parents and dreaded ones for others. In most cases it is still usually mum who will step in. Two-thirds of working mums and mums-to-be are concerned about what they would do if their child was ill. In our survey (Being a Mum and Having a Career WIKI/WILTKI) concerns around such situations were mentioned by over 60% of mums.
For some of the women we work with, the anxiety this leads to causes acute stress such that they feel it impacts both on their enjoyment of being a mum and their work performance. In extreme cases, some mums simply leave their careers to become stay-at-home mums or switch to less demanding careers.
Whilst we can't guarantee that children won't get sick or that accidents won't happen, we can make contingency plans for these kind of scenarios. These are best developed before the maternity leave period begins by thinking through likely situations and defining plans and responses. Our Think-Plan-Action-Review (c) approach takes mums-to-be through a framework of considerations (including such contingency plans) to ensure that all aspects of job, family/self and career are thought through and planned for. This helps to leave mum feeling more in control of her situation and more confident about the return to work.
We particularly liked this, "Recognise that it's difficult. Let go of tidy, perfect and neat as much as you feel you can. Don't compare yourself to other people. Spend your time with people who are boosters not drainers" Survey respondent