Four months. That’s how long it takes the average new mum to get their confidence back when they return to work after maternity leave according to a study.
Add to that the fact you’ve probably been talking baby all day every day for the last however many months and worn nothing but a mummiform (mine consists of no make-up, leggings and a vest top and either Ugg boots or Birkenstocks depending on the time of year, topped off with a zero-maintenance mum-bun) the prospect of re-entering adult society is enough to make you want to cower under the highchair with a bottle of wine.
So, if and when you do emerge bleary-eyed from the fug of new motherhood, dust yourself down with the omnipresent baby wipes and start thinking it might be about time to shed the leggings and vest tops (note the if and when – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being ‘just’ a mum) how can you do it with confidence?
5 ways to rock being a working mum
1. Go shopping. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. When I went for an interview for my dream job just three months after Little B was born I hadn’t bought ‘work’ clothes for more than four years and wore a wildly out-of-date noughties outfit. Unsurprisingly I felt less Anna Wintour and more Bridget Jones. Why didn’t I just go shopping? (I still got the job by the way, only I was later forced to give it up because I wanted to exclusively breastfeed. It turns out you can’t have it all. But that’s another story).
2. Never underestimate the power of war paint. Last week I was invited to a Mumsnet and Boots event about returning to work with confidence after having a baby where, after a truly inspiring panel discussion with speakers including supermodel Jade Parfitt, I was treated to a makeover by the No7 team.
I discovered No7’s Instant Radiance Under Eye Concealer, which boasts light reflectors and an ‘optical blurrer’. Three blobs blended in under each eye hides the darkest of broken nights – even the packaging promises you can ‘cheat your way to the appearance of bright, healthy and youthful eyes’. Whoever said make-up is self-confidence applied directly to the face is absolutely right.
Here I am before my makeover, looking slightly dazed with tiredness (picture taken by Megan over at Truly Madly Kids, who I last saw when we watched Stephen Mangan give birth. Again that’s another story).
And here I am afterwards, with the lovely Megan.
Also have a hair cut, because as Coco Chanel said: ‘A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.’
3. Ask for help. I often feel totally over-whelmed by all the things there are to do on weekdays. Can you share the school or nursery run with friends, taking it in turns on different days? Could you ask the grandparents for more help? Pay for help if you can. When I go back to work after having baby number three we’re getting a cleaner. We can’t afford it, but we can’t afford for me to go insane either.
4. If it’s not working, change it. Talk to your colleagues. Talk to your boss. Request flexi time. Get your other half to request flexi time. Or if it’s really not working maybe it’s time to consider a job you can work around being a stay-at-home mum. Could you go freelance? Do you have a business idea you put on the back burner before becoming a mum? Now might be the time to revisit it.
5. Remember you’re a superwoman! You’ve grown a human being, either pushed it out of your chuff (Misery Guts’s words, not mine!) or produced it from your own custom-made sunroof. You’ve kept yourself and this tiny human being alive ever since, and you’ve developed superpowers you never dreamed of. You can do anything! You’ve got this.
Have you recently returned to work after having a baby? Are you thinking about or preparing to return to work? I’d love to hear your tips!
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