For women who have worked for years in busy roles, maternity leave is a different phase in life. There is no pull from the office, there are long days at home, and you are at the beck and call of a different master.
No matter what you choose to do and how long you take, own the maternity leave experience, and make it a memorable time for yourself. Maternity leave gives many women an opportunity to transform as you become a mother, but it can also be utilised in other ways and not just seen as a career gap …
Here are some ideas to make the most of your time:
A great way to not only help your community but also keep up your skills is to volunteer. Volunteering will give you various feel-good vibes. It might be out of your comfort zone to start with, but you will get more out of this experience than you expect.
Some ideas of roles you could volunteer for include:
- taking on responsibility at the local toy library
- serving on the board of the local kindergarten
- offering your fundraising expertise for the local playgroup
- becoming the social media manager for a local community event
- teaching older people IT skills at your community centre.
All volunteering experiences will give you valuable skills in a different area. Most experiences will be with a culturally diverse group which is more than many of us work with. Volunteering will give you a variety of new and enriching experiences to discuss in future interviews which will help if you feel you have a career gap from maternity leave.
Return to study
If you are thinking of a career change post child, then this is a great time to return to study. Study something you want to study, as it will make it easier to find the time to complete it. Consider starting small with a diploma which you could do over six months to a year, which will give you enough skills and knowledge to apply for roles in your new industry.
Like most things in life, the key to completing more study is consistency and organisation. Hand in each assignment, on time, answering the questions asked. Schedule time to study and revise as needed. Before you know it, you will be flying through the subjects and donning a graduation gown. What a proud moment for your child to see.
Give mothers’ group a go
Mothers’ group can be a bit hit and miss. You don’t know till you go. You are normally only put into a local mother’s group after your first baby, so this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you go and make one good friend out of it all then you have won. It is helpful to have local friends and mums around you especially if you are planning to stay in the area.
Mum friends will come and go, depending on kinders, schools and other commitments but there is something about your mothers’ group friends – sometimes they turn out to be lifelong friends. Forming friendships with other mothers can illuminate your own experiences of mothering which might be helpful to you in this time in your life.
Women are starting a third of the new businesses. This is a great time for you to get busy with a side hustle or finally create that dream business that will suit you and the hours you want to do.
Many mums run businesses while managing drop-offs and after-school activities. Most of the product you buy for your little one has been designed by a mum who thought of the time saver or product while on maternity leave herself.
The size of your maternity leave side hustle can be anything from an Etsy shop, a blog, to a new product range or small business. You will learn many valuable skills running your own business and keep your mind active while also being a mother, so why not give it a go.
A lot of people discover while they are on mat leave they don’t want to go back to the role or company they used to work for. Instead, they would love to do some part-time work while also being around for their little one. Part-time jobs do exist but sometimes are a little harder to find than a full-time role as they are not traditionally advertised.
The key to finding a great part-time role is through your network. Reach out to people who you have worked with and ask them if they have any part-time roles or know of any. Start telling people you are in contact with what you are looking for – you just don’t know who your hairdresser or barista talks to.
You will need to contact a lot of people, explain where you are at, what you would like to do and how much availability you have. These roles do come up but take time to eventuate. Many roles offered for part-time are sometimes more admin-based and can be done at less specific times during the day which are ideal. Keep putting out there what you want and before you know it, a role will appear.
Caring for a young child, while rewarding, can be exhausting. You can potentially increase your enjoyment of your time with your child by spending some of your maternity leave exercising different parts of your mind – growing yourself not just as a mother but as a woman. How nice would it be to look back on your maternity leave as a special time in your life? A time where you did things and furthered yourself while raising your child.