to ask if its really possible to get your career back on track after having a baby

(27 Posts)
quesadilla Mon 28-Jan-13 10:12:26

Feeling really despondent about my job: my work has nosedived after having DD (2). I went back to work full time relatively early (9 months) -- not out of choice but because I'm the main breadwinner. I am lucky in as much as I still have my job, still being reasonably well paid but its the usual story: feel totally sidelined and irrelevant to the company; feel that people think I'm taking the p* because I work from home one day (and I don't think I am but if I'm honest I'm no longer as driven as I was before, simply because I don't have enough hours in the day); have been looking for other jobs with no success whatsoever and my self-esteem has gone right down -- I feel totally unemployable and at some point that I'm going to be made redundant. Am totally at my wits end. I want some honest advice from other in a similar situation: if you aren't wealthy enough to afford a nanny is it really possible to get your working life back to some semblance of the quality it was before? or do you just have to accept that you're not going to progress as fast as if you didn't have kids?

Glittertwins Mon 28-Jan-13 10:16:19

Hi. I would say it depends on the company and also your expectations. Is your line manager approachable at all so you can talk this through? Even though I went back part time, I have in no way been sidelined and got a promotion a few months back and I also work from home one day a week. For me, it was all about being clear on what I wanted to do and how projects at work would get me that.

WipsGlitter Mon 28-Jan-13 10:27:46

I don't know. I was made redundant while on mat leave with DS2. My confidence took a nosedive as it was a case if them wanting rid of me. Since then I've had one year long contract (a mat cover), six months unemployed, and am now doing another mat cover. Really feel pressure because I want a proper job where I'm going to be there for a long time. But with two kids I need something really flexible but with good pay and a challenge. I feel like I've got as far as I can until I can get something permanent.

EssexGurl Mon 28-Jan-13 10:28:51

Honestly, no, not if you want to be involved in your child's life.

DH and I both had comparable level roles in the City before children. But after my DS although I carried on working I never had the opportunity to progress. I had to leave at 5pm to collect him from nursery (DH took him so I was always in early) and this was frowned upon. It was an American company and I was always asked to do conference calls with US colleagues at 6pm. When I said I couldn't as I was on my way home from nursery with DS at that time, my boss said that she did them with kids in the car so why couldn't I? She now has a live in nanny and works every hour god sends. I am a SAHM. All the women in my office either had nannies or husbands who had lower level roles which meant they did all the childcare (role reversal here). DH and I with similar level jobs meant we had to share, which just did not work.

Oh, and I did not chose to work for a US company. I joined a very small, English firm with a very family friendly ethos. It was taken over by a big US firm and everything changed!

quesadilla Mon 28-Jan-13 10:35:32

This is the thing: I don't feel there's any explicit objections being raised to my doing shorter hours, its just that making time for kids goes so much against the culture of presenteeism that so many companies in so many industries have. I am still prepared to work as hard as I did before (when time allows) but what I'm not prepared to do is to sit at my desk until 6 when most of my colleagues are doing the same thing but surfing the internet, just to be seen to be at my desk for the pure sake of it, when I can leave at 5 and get a bit of time at the end of the day with my daughter. And that probably doesn't make me less efficient but it makes me at odds with the corporate culture and ultimately less likely to get promoted.

I guess what I want to know is whether it gets easier when the kids are at school?

LouMae Mon 28-Jan-13 10:38:51

I have recently received a promotion to office manager but I do work for the civil service and can work a flexible 37 hour week, which means I can leave early two days a week to take ds to his activities and start late three days a week and take him to school. I make up my hours on the other days and work are always very good if I need time off for appointments or school plays or assemblies etc. I am very lucky as I know the private sector might not be as flexible.

Numberlock Mon 28-Jan-13 10:41:40

Yes it's achievable but I would say it's set me back ten years (at least). My sons are 17, 17 and 14 and it's only in the last year that I've got the promotion I really wanted, ie director level. Without children, I would have expected to be at this level ten years ago.

Wouldn't change anything, mind, just annoys me from time to time when I think about the lost income!

fromparistoberlin Mon 28-Jan-13 10:43:05

yes it can

but it helps if you have a suppoprtive partner, or a SAHD!

I still think I did have a 3rd as scared of some fucker stealing my role when on mat leave for the 3rd time!!!!!

quesadilla Mon 28-Jan-13 10:47:14

LouMae yes I do wonder if its easier in the public sector (I've always worked in the private sector).

quesadilla Mon 28-Jan-13 10:50:09

Also its interesting how many people are saying "yes its possible but it helps if you have a SAHD/P". This is the big issue me and my DH have faced: I'm the breadwinner, his income is supplementary. We thought seriously about him giving up work to look after DD but he decided that if he did that he'd basically never be able to get back on the job ladder himself (he'd been through nearly 2 years unemployed shortly before we got pregnant and is understandably paranoid about being unemployable.) I wouldn't say I regret him working because there's perks but I do wonder if two working parents actually makes it harder for whoever is the main earner to progress?

MamaGeekChic Mon 28-Jan-13 10:50:58

This might not be a popular view but I think you need to try to split out how much of this is your behaviour, your perception/self-esteem and how much is actually your work. I think it is possible to keep your career on track once you have a baby, I've done it, but it's bloody hard work and I went back after 10weeks mat leave. I'm the main breadwinner so couldn't take any risks with my career for the sake of our family. I think in a position where you have decided that your career is less important than you partner's for example, it is almost impossible to do, because your attitude towards it changes. If you are the main earner, is your partner picking up his share of the slack ie childcare, housework, staying off if child is sick? You can't do it all, and if you let your focus and attitude at work slip it's only natural that you won't be as well thought of or progress as quickly.

fromparistoberlin Mon 28-Jan-13 10:54:28

I think you need to get your energy and focus back to be honest

It can take ages, bit I made a decision to work my fxxxg arse off. I even start work 630am some days to get whats needs to be done

I think work harder (sorry), and also have a srfight convo. I can 10% see he does not want to stop work, but if you want more $$$$$ you need to work a way for you to focus more on your career

dont give up! and try and get your self esteem back

Numberlock Mon 28-Jan-13 10:57:26

It also depends on the type of job/industry. I would say, very generally speaking, it's easier if it's office based in one location. If it involves a lot of travel for extended periods at short notice, this is harder to arrange with children, even with the most supportive partner who may also have travel to fit into his job too.

quesadilla Mon 28-Jan-13 10:59:01

MamaGeekChic I am the main breadwinner as well so I haven't decided my career is less important than my partners, the reverse is true. My partner is less able to do pick-ups and drop-offs from childcare than I because he works in different locations/times almost every day which is a disadvantage but on the home front he's pretty good. I don't think my focus on actual work has slipped but, as discussed above, I'm less prepared to put up with office b**** now -- for example staying an extra half hour just for the sake of it when there's nothing to do and I could spend that half hour with my child before she goes to bed. If that means I've lost focus, then guilty.... but I don't think the quality of my work has changed. Maybe that's not enough though.

chanie44 Mon 28-Jan-13 11:02:17

When I returned from mat leave, I made a point of working really hard and proving my worth. I put myself forward for projects and if I couldn't stay late, I would take work home, come in at weekends for meetings. My job is 9-5 so it hasn't been too difficult.

I've seen so many women return from mat leave who have been sidelined, either through choice or just not being visible enough

. I think in some ways, employers often expect women returning from mat leave to take a back seat, so in some ways, you do have to go that bit extra.

If you need to attend 6pm meetings couldn't you swap with oh so that he goes in early and you go I later. I think showing that you are trying to be flexible does go a long way.

survivingwinter Mon 28-Jan-13 11:09:00

Friends of mine who have managed to pick up their career successfully again either have a partner at home looking after the kids or very involved grandparents who allow for longer hours at work etc.

I don't think it is necessarily easier in the public sector now as most people I know have faced either redundancy or a fight for their own jobs. Everyone is increasingly having to prove themselves.

My job has disappeared under this government so I am currently unemployable. It's a horrible place to be.

I hope the situation improves for you OP but I can understand the pressure you are feeling..

MamaGeekChic Mon 28-Jan-13 11:17:54

OP that's not quite what I meant, if you are the main earner and your career is the family priority then you can't do aall the drop offs/pick ups etc as well. Something has to give and that may mean that your OH should look for a new job which means he is more able to do this. If you haven't lost focus/compromising as you say then I'm sure it's more to do with your own confidence and self esteem. I totally agree with you re office bullshit, I'm lucky in that we have a 'work is something you do not somewhere you go' culture which means no-one bats an eyelid if I leave the office at 5pm, the do occasionally roll their eyes at me when they see emails I sent them at midnight though smile

Ahhhcrap Mon 28-Jan-13 11:22:07

You really need to look at your employer.
I could have written your first post, I share the drop offs and picks ups with my DH and work from home one day a week.

My employer is really supportive and my career has gone from strength to strength. I've just been promoted too so it's not just me that thinks that.

Maybe look at moving companies?? I was straight when I joined my current employer and said that family comes first for me.

noviceoftheday Mon 28-Jan-13 11:51:07

I am struggling with this issue at the moment but from a different perspective on this as the boss. One of my team members is really struggling at the moment. Clingy child, totally unsupportive husband, 3 days a week in a job that can either by interesting and project based or less volatile. I think she needs to give herself a break because for her sanity sake I am not sure she can do the project based work and perhaps needs to recognise that in her current set up, trying to keep her career at the same pace is nigh on impossible. It doesn't mean she should lose focus or hop on the mummy track but recognise that it might take longer and that she would be better off working smarter and delivering what she can well rather than running herself ragged trying to keep the pace. As someone who cares about her I want to say this to her (she works for others not just me) but equally don't want to say the wrong thing so i have said nothing so far.

Lambzig Mon 28-Jan-13 11:59:48

I could have written your post. I went back part time after DC1 was born (3 days a week) and found myself completely sidelined, excluded from projects, removed from the board and ignored in a way that my male colleagues who work part time are not. I am now on maternity leave 3 years later with DC2 and really dont think i can go back.

It makes me sad, because I really wanted a balance and I worked my socks off when I went back, usually working 5 days a week in reality, but it ws made obvious to me that now I was a mother it was game over, I dread to think what my role would be now if I go back. When I went back the first time, I was the only professional over thirty in the whole of the UK, so perhaps my younger female colleagues have more sense than me.

Lambzig Mon 28-Jan-13 12:01:02

Sorry, Obviously meant in my company in the whole of the UK.

Could your DP work part-time? Or do some studies/re-train?

I agree that if you are the main breadwinner and his income is supplementary, he should really be trying to get a job or other setup that allows him to do most of the pickups.

I recently edited a report on how high-level executives combine work and family life. None of the couples had a situation where they both worked full-time, with no flexible hours or 4-day weeks or family support or what have you. Actually there was one couple where both worked full-on but they had two nannies.

What seems to work best for my DH and I is 1.5 jobs split between us -- either one FT and one PT, or two PT. I think if you can afford it, and it sounds like maybe you can, this would be the way to go.

EuroShagmore Mon 28-Jan-13 13:44:28

As you are the main breadwinner, your husband really needs to be taking on more of the burden, and if that means looking for a new job, so be it. He needs to make your life easier, in the way of so many women in his position.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 28-Jan-13 14:56:39

Can you do the morning drop off and get your DH to leave early to collect the DCs? I think leaving early is more noticed by colleagues than being in early. I think leaving early should either be split between you or your DH as the lower earner should do it.

badbride Mon 28-Jan-13 16:11:21

I don'y have DC, but was in a kind of similar situation once in that I felt I was doing and was under-performing and that I was being sidelined by my employer. Eventually, I arranged an appointment to talk to my boss about it. Turns out I was under-performing, but he had been so worried that this was because I was planning to leave that he'd been too scared to say anything! So the lack of communication had made things worse for everyone.

So we had a frank chat about how to fix things: I was under-performing because I hadn't been given any training or even a proper job description. So once we had sorted that out, and given me a set of objectives to achieve, things got much better.

So if I were in your shoes, I would have a chat to your line manager--not to pour out your woes, but to have a constructive conversation about how things are going and how to move forward. Emphasise your committment to the organisation and to doing an excellent job, but explain that you are worried that your day working from home, plus the fact that you need to leave at your contracted time are giving the opposite impression.

You therefore want to draw up a set of measureable SMART objectives for you to achieve in the next quarter so that your boss can rate your contribution to the company by your performance, rather than by presenteeism in the office. Make sure these are objectives that you can not only meet, but in some cases, also exceed (don't tell your boss that bit smile ) to demonstrate how bloody brilliant you are.

Your organisation has already allowed you to work form home one day a week: this, to me, is a string sign that they really value you and want to keep you. Keeping some good communication going between you and your boss, together with achieving the objectives you have set will really help you feel in contraol of the situation again and help banish negative thoughts.

badbride Mon 28-Jan-13 16:19:36

Oops--sorry forgot to add: once you have your objectives, you can break each objective down into steps you can storm through in the course of a working day.

This will give you the confidence to to stop work at 5, safe in the knowledge that everything is under control and that you have done all you need to do that day. So no more shuffling apologetically out of the office past the sidelong glances of disapproving colleagues. You've got the job done, done it well, and they are just a bunch of inefficient tossers. Bugger 'em! Swan past with you head held high smile

With apologies for all the typos: I can spell, I just can't type

FantasticDay Mon 28-Jan-13 16:30:51

I have, but I do work for the civil service who offer a number of flexible working patterns ( I work 0.9 FTE). I had my first child while I was working in private sector consultancy, and there were dispiriting e-mails going round congratulating people for coming into the office weekends etc. - when at least two of us with small kids were putting together - successful - bids at home at two in the morning. I think badbride offers excellent advice for ensuring that your contribution is recognised (esp about SMART objectives). (Btw, if you have a work Blackberry, you might want to send a couple of e-mails out of hours, just to show you aren't swanning off. Would it be possible to speak to US colleagues via Skype/telecon from home when kids are in bed (as long as it is not every night)?

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