Article by – Jija Jose
What happens to the confidence in women during motherhood who take a career break?
How does the once career-minded woman fall off the grid postpartum or lack confidence in women during motherhood?
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Tilburg, it was found that women experienced a drop in their self-esteem during their pregnancies. This drops even further within the first 6 months of childbirth and continues for almost 3 years following it. A career break can take a toll on confidence in women during motherhood more than any other stage in life.
There is a sense of isolation that one faces as a mom. When your world stops to only revolve around your newborn, you are in demand 24/7. You get comfortable in the limited responses of the miracle in your hand. Pushing you farther away from the chaos of the rest of the world.
Maternity isolation eventually leads to losing the professional identity that most women experience whilst on a career break. And you don’t realise it up until the D-day arrives for you to resume work post-maternity leave. Or in many cases, the short break prolongs and you lose touch with the version of you as a working woman. Once you do decide to reboot your long lost career, you are faced with fears of feeling left behind in the rat race of the corporate world.
If a bunch of women on a career break were to gather, most likely the narrative would be strikingly similar than what we assume. What was supposed to be a 75 days maternity break, often extends to a long gaping career break you lose track of. This is what most mothers face after childbirth. The gap is not just in the career but almost always takes a toll on the mother’s self-esteem postpartum. Sometimes stemming from exhaustion to postpartum blues.
To think of it, you were once in demand by the outside world for your expertise and resourceful skill set. And almost abruptly, that need ceased to exist. Your world may have become smaller post quitting a successful career. It shrinks to just family and friends, and often, family becomes the only social circle.
First and foremost, what all such mom’s need to understand is – go easy on yourself. You gave birth. This in itself requires the strongest willpower in the world. And for the women who had to take a break in your career due to other personal obligations, the suggestion remains the same. Keep your calm and know that you are tackling life in the best way possible.
So, what can be done to regain your confidence without being too hard on yourself?
1. Prioritise your mental health
The most important step of all is in attaining the right mindset. Practice self-care even if you only have 15 minutes for yourself. Meditate, listen to positive affirmations, write a morning or night journal. This is essential in tracking emotions and self-doubts. You need to believe in yourself more than anyone else. A self-esteem that is intact plays a crucial role and is the lifeline to you thriving in life. Embrace the new version of you rather than pressuring yourself to fit into a perfect image of who you were before.
2. Positive companionship exudes positive vibes
Surround yourself with like-minded people with common aspirations who will motivate you on your dull and bright days which will help to bring confidence in women during motherhood. Stay away from negativity that does not yield any positive results. Instead engage in meaningful conversations that are insightful and motivate you.
3. Mentorship by fellow working women
Seek advice from women who have a work-life balance, having figured it out longer than you. Such women can fuel the process of self discovery for new moms struggling to settle into a working mom’s role. To identify their potential, improve weak areas and gradually build their confidence.
4. Find an accountability partner
Try to encourage each other to navigate through the new role in the personal and professional front. In this way you have each other’s back and can track progress.
5. Establish a routine
It will seem highly impossible during the initial phase especially if you are a new mom. Figuring out your child’s routine and shaping your life around it will take time. So be patient but strive for a life of discipline. Take slow steps towards it.
6. Recreate yourself
This is to keep your mind engaged and your transferable skills in check. A short course that you can take up at your own pace is great to begin with. Try to update your skills in technology especially for the ones that have been away from their careers for a prolonged period.
7. Strategize a new career plan
There are going to be many emotions, family obligations and work demands that are going to overwhelm you. Therefore, it is best to sit down and strategize a flexible career plan for yourself. If going back to your previous employer after a maternity break, you can discuss with them options for flexible timings or remote work. Take your time and research your alternatives if you wish to switch jobs for flexibility after a career break.
8. Choose To Pursue Your Decision To Work By Overcoming Self-Doubts
Facing your fear upfront is the only way to go about it. Most importantly, be prepared by training your mind to buckle up under pressure. There is a certain sense of confidence that comes naturally with having a thriving career. It is your own road to success, one that you build through your hard work and efforts. Once you stick to your decision to pursue your career goals amidst challenges, everything else can be tackled and build confidence in women during motherhood.
Returning to work comes with added perks such as:
- Career confidence
- Value for your expertise
- Regaining a professional identity
- Financial independence
- A social life with workplace peers
- Intellectual stimulation through frequent problem-solving decision making at work
Accept that change is inevitable and take life one step at a time. You are doing the best you can by pursuing a career and dealing with family obligations. Value and appreciate yourself enough so that you do not seek external validation. You would be amused at how far you can go!
Back2Work4You is solely dedicated for such women on a career break. This is a platform to share your self-doubts and tackle them under the mentorship of our in-house experts.
“Evolve so hard that they have to get to know you again”.