While many workplaces have made strides in recent years in addressing the gender pay gap and fighting for a more equitable workplace, there is still a ‘gap’ that doesn’t get talked about. The confidence gap describes the gap in self-confidence that many mothers report experiencing on returning to work after maternity leave.
This has many possible triggers, from feeling ‘out of the loop’, to anxiety about adjusting back into the role, or even your performance being compared to that of your maternity cover.
There are many ways in which your employer should help support you back into work and alleviate any confidence gap. Here are some things you can do to help too.
Stay in touch
Adjusting into life as a parent requires time and space, so you shouldn’t be expected to respond to work concerns or queries. But staying in touch with your colleagues and workmates can work wonders for your confidence on returning.
If your workplace has social connection points, whether regular events or a team Whatsapp group, you can ask if you can still be included and kept in the loop. Keeping In Touch days are a useful way to get some structured (and often paid!) easing into the workplace, so do talk with your line manager about the practicalities of how this can work for you and the team. Have an open conversation prior to maternity leave so you don’t feel obligated to interact any more than you’re able to.
Give yourself time
Don’t expect to be back up to full speed on day one of returning to the office. In the last few months you’ve exerted your mind and body on parenthood, so it will naturally take some time to switch back into work mode, so expect that there will be an adjustment period. Remember to be patient with yourself.
Again, open dialogue with your team or management can help here. Set manageable priorities together for the first few weeks while you transition back into working life.
In the early days of parenting, reading up on industry news will probably be the furthest thing from your mind. But as you approach the time to phase back into the workplace it can be a useful way to put your mind at ease. You don’t need to panic-read every industry journal and white paper; you might find it helpful to set aside a few minutes a day to catch up on key events, in the couple of weeks leading up to returning to work.
You could also ask a colleague for any key news and information, and remember there’ll be time to catch up when you’re back in post.
Remember, you’ve done it before
And finally, remember that you know how to do the job well, because it’s your job! Try to stave off impostor syndrome by reminding yourself that you’re more than capable of doing the job. It can be helpful to remind yourself of past successes and achievements.
As a career coach, it’s been my joy to help brilliant women return to meaningful careers after maternity leave. Why not book a completely free 20 minute career consultation with me? It’s a chance to discuss your career journey and goals, and see whether I could help you make the next steps.
Book in your FREE telephone consultation with me today.