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What’s causing maternity leave return anxiety?

A new survey of young mums details all about returning to work after maternity leave, with expert tips on how to balance a full-time career with motherhood. 94% of new mums feel nervous about returning to work after maternity leave, and not spending enough time with the kids is the main reason why (67%).

New research* reveals all about how women really feel about returning to work. The findings reveal that a whopping 94% of mothers feel nervous about returning to work after maternity leave, with nearly all also being forced to complete work tasks out of hours (97%).

The top workplace considerations that new mothers would like to see from their employers to help ease the transition back into work, are:

1.Flexible hours (79%)
2.Childcare options (66%)
3.Part-time work (60%)
4.Training opportunities (31%)
5.Mentoring scheme (27%)

At the other end of the scale, the study also found that the top five concerns for new mums when returning to work, are:

1.Not spending enough time with their children (67%)
2.Feeling out of the loop in the workplace (65%)
3.Not wanting to be away from home (51%)
4.Nervousness during work (47%)
5.Unexpected team changes (45%)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, mums fear not spending enough time with their children the most, with fears around feeling out of loop in the workplace a close second.

One new mother, Julie Kirkham from Oldham, found balancing a demanding career and motherhood to be extremely difficult, and took matters into her own hands to find a career that suited her new lifestyle. “Working as a medical secretary and juggling a voluntary role alongside being a mother of four young children wasn’t working – I knew I needed a change. The 9-5 lifestyle was no longer suitable for my lifestyle and my previous working life was near impossible to manage!”

It was only when Julie tuned into her local radio station on her morning commute and heard a news interview about the opportunities for women working within logistics, that she discovered an alternative career path to suit her needs.

Speaking on the benefits of her career move from the medical profession to logistics, Julie commented “I was able to pick and choose when I worked, which was great on school holidays. I was also earning more money than my previous job, and quickly realised that working weekends was more lucrative than weekdays – I was loving my new life as a lorry driver!”

To offer advice and support to mothers who may be concerned about going back to the workplace, the team at Generation Logistics has partnered with Aimee Treasure, Marketing Director at D&I consulting agency Templeton and Partners, to share top tips on how to manage returning to work and achieving that all-important work-life balance:

1. Prepare in advance by asking your employers for a plan
Returning to the workplace is a daunting prospect for new mothers, and, as Aimee suggests: “many organisations still underestimate the level of support needed for mothers returning to the workplace. If one doesn’t already exist, you are entitled to ask for your own readjustment plan.

“You can also ask for a mentor or ‘buddy’ to be assigned to give you personal support, an approach which has proven to be really helpful in the first few weeks back at work. Your managers and business leaders know that happy, comfortable and supported employees are the most productive and effective – your employer will want to ensure you have what you need to work at your best, and they should be happy to provide it for you.”

2. One step at a time – pacing yourself is important
As Aimee notes, each new mother’s return to work is different. “Progress isn’t linear: some days you might feel overwhelmed or chastise yourself for small errors, especially in the first few weeks back, but being kind to yourself is vital to positive mental health and wellbeing. “The best way to look after yourself is being aware of your emotional and physical needs, planning for them wherever you can, and communicating your needs to your line manager. If you need more flexibility, don’t be afraid of explaining what adjustments you need and why.”

3. Know your worth – your career shouldn’t suffer because you’ve started a family
No woman’s career should suffer because they chose a family, but as Aimee comments: “Most women experience imposter syndrome despite excelling in their career paths, and taking time out of the workforce can add extra vulnerability and anxiety to women’s professional concerns. Your company hired you for a reason – they need to keep investing in your skills, knowledge and expertise to get the best from you. If your manager isn’t forthcoming about creating a personal development plan for you, draft one yourself to take to a meeting with your manager and/or HR, where you can outline the training and support you need to continue advancing in your career.”

Bethany Windsor, Programme Manager at Generation Logistics, commented: “When it comes to supporting new parents, the logistics sector is really paving the way. From training opportunities to flexible work arrangements and mentoring, all of which were rated as the top considerations from mothers returning to work, the logistics sector is strides ahead of other business areas.

www.generationlogistics.org/parental-returners

*Research from Generation Logistics

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