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I'm no use professionally now I'm a mum

(103 Posts)
Welda18 Mon 13-Jul-20 13:14:00

Totally prepared to be told IABU but I just feel women in general are so disadvantaged professionally once they become mums. It's still such an old fashioned world out there. Employers forget you exist once you're a mum and working part-time, you lose the momentum, the connections and the skills. Having my babies was the best thing I've ever done but OMG it has ruined me in other ways.

Motherhood has done something physically and mentally to me as well; my brain has turned to mush. I struggle to think for myself. I forget things I said seconds previously. I've lost motivation for the things that I thought I wanted. I don't know what I want professionally anymore now that I've got the all-consuming full-time commitment of being a mum.

A career of some description would be great but the tug of motherhood and being present and emotionally "in the room" for the kids throws shadows of doubt over thoughts about developing myself professionally.

I've got two boys - one has just turned 6 & the little one is 19 months. I work part-time, 3 days a week, but honestly, I just feel so useless these days. I feel like I wouldn't know where to start trying to enter the professional world again. For pretty much the entirety of my 30's I have been feeding, and nappy-changing, doing endless rounds of housework, cooking dinners, entertaining kids; like most mums do. And now, when I think about my working future I get a mild sense of panic.

I have nothing to offer any employer that they would want! I can look after kids and feed babies but my workplace confidence has gone. The thought of sitting an interview scares me because I know I'd be up against candidates who have the connections, the up-to-speed skills and rhetoric to put me to shame!

I'm 38 next month and I feel like an old dame. My body and mind are gone - or at least, changed so completely that I'm not the person I was. Motherhood has utterly consumed me. Do any other women feel like this? Or did you manage to bounce back professionally?

OP’s posts: |
AhNowTed Mon 13-Jul-20 13:22:04

I had two children 4 years apart and a successful career. It was very tough at times but my point is my husband did his fair share if not more. Where is your husband in all this?

AhNowTed Mon 13-Jul-20 13:23:01

/partner

bemusedABC Mon 13-Jul-20 13:28:27

Sorry you are feeling like this OP. I don't have kids (yet) but I wonder if it could be to do with the industry you are in or your employer. These days being a mother should not mean you are any less valued at work, and if they are making you feel that way then they have some serious work to do culturally, in my opinion.
I work for a well known brand, and am surrounded by Women and mothers at all levels of leadership. Sorry I know this doesn't help you specifically, but trying to say that it doesn't have to be like this. Could you consider a change of industry/company?

ZigZagIntoTheBlue Mon 13-Jul-20 13:28:29

Im feeling it too op, my youngest is about to start school in September and I'm applying for jobs but definitely get the mushy brain thing. One thing that has helped is B12 injections! Maybe see if you can get tested for being deficient at your gp.

BakedBlossoms Mon 13-Jul-20 13:32:10

Do you have a partner?

I agree it's definitely hard but I do think the tide is turning. The charity I work for is totally flexible and every one of our staff members is a mother - we are home based and working hours are employee led. I have found the voluntary sector in general is a lot more flexible but even other sectors are getting there - my husband works for a very stuffy corporate finance company and even they are offering flexible working now.

BakedBlossoms Mon 13-Jul-20 13:34:00

Also if you've been out of work a while it is worth getting your CV professionally looked at. I work in HR and some CVs are truly shocking. This company (whom I don't work with or have any personal connection to, I just think they're great!) does CV rewrites at very reasonable (cheap, in fact) prices and focusses on women: www.imovarit.com/

Loveinatimeofcovid Mon 13-Jul-20 13:37:25

You can’t choose to go part time and then complain that you’re employer has lost interest in you. They don’t care whether you’re a mother or not, they care whether you are dedicated to the job and many mothers are.

lanthanum Mon 13-Jul-20 13:37:30

Many people do bounce back professionally as the kids get older.

I wonder whether we get too wrapped up (pre-kids) in letting our jobs define us, and so we feel that we are "less" if we're no longer doing them, or if working is a more minor part of our lives. That leads to resentment of motherhood, instead of enjoying this different phase of life.

When you're ready to turn back more to your career, you need to see all the pluses in what you've been doing; the juggling, prioritising, people-management, etc. Maybe you might need to go in a rung down to start with and prove yourself, or do a course to boost your knowledge and confidence, but you definitely still have it in you.

Some people take the opportunity to move in a different direction - that's something that can be difficult to do mid-career, but a little easier if there's a natural break anyway.

BakedBlossoms Mon 13-Jul-20 13:38:44

You can’t choose to go part time and then complain that you’re employer has lost interest in you. They don’t care whether you’re a mother or not, they care whether you are dedicated to the job and many mothers are.

I'm sorry, are you actually saying that if you work part time you're not dedicated to the job?

The charity I work for only employs part time workers, I'd better tell them all off for not being dedicated!

BakedBlossoms Mon 13-Jul-20 13:39:42

When you're ready to turn back more to your career, you need to see all the pluses in what you've been doing; the juggling, prioritising, people-management, etc

I agree but FGS don't put that shit on your CV. Just say 2016-2020 (or whatever) - career break to raise children.

Don't say you gained prioritisation and negotiating skills FGS!!!

QualityFeet Mon 13-Jul-20 13:41:20

You can still bounce back. Little people take up so much brain space. There are lots of women who did less when kids were young who get back into career stuff later.

SiennaSienna Mon 13-Jul-20 13:42:43

This may be controversial but I think it depends on how much of a career you had before motherhood, at least in my experience. I was a career woman when I had my first at 31 and then my second two years later. I took full maternity leave but stayed with my employer who values my work (still with them 14 years on). I was promoted while pregnant with #1 and picked up a global role after returning from my second maternity leave. I'm sure it would be harder to start from scratch if I hadn't had a successful career and track record before having children. I also didn't take extended time off after maternity, which is something not all women are willing to do.

Ori38 Mon 13-Jul-20 13:44:03

@Loveinatimeofcovid

You can’t choose to go part time and then complain that you’re employer has lost interest in you.

Don't agree with this statement. So you're basically saying that if you choose to go part-time it's a given that your employer will lose interest in you professionally? Maybe that is the case but that's precisely the problem isn't it, for a lot of working mums?

SiennaSienna Mon 13-Jul-20 13:44:24

Just to add, I went part time after each maternity leave for a year (4 days) and then back up to full time.

NoWordForFluffy Mon 13-Jul-20 13:45:01

I've never worked part time. I'm the highest earner so went back full time both between and after my children were born. Facilitated by DH.

What does your partner / husband do to facilitate your career?

chaoticisatroll55 Mon 13-Jul-20 13:46:34

Which is why I never stopped working (apart from my mat leave). I earn more than hubby now. It's a choice at the end of the day and I chose the harder path then but life's easier now.

Kissinggate Mon 13-Jul-20 13:46:47

For pretty much the entirety of my 30's I have been feeding, and nappy-changing, doing endless rounds of housework, cooking dinners, entertaining kids; like most mums do.

I just feel women in general are so disadvantaged professionally once they become mums. It's still such an old fashioned world out there. Employers forget you exist once you're a mum and working part-time, you lose the momentum, the connections and the skills.

I have nothing to offer any employer that they would want! I can look after kids and feed babies but my workplace confidence has gone.

That's not my experience of parenthood at all. No one makes you work PT, or indeed take any time out -- I went back early from maternity leave because I wanted to, and having a child (bar once when he banged his head at school and they called me) has never impacted on my work. I'm not sure many of my colleagues know I have a child. I certainly don't know whether some of my colleagues are parents.

You just sound as if your confidence is very low. Don't you have friends or colleagues who are juggling parenthood and work more equably, to whom you could talk about steps you could take to feel back in the game?

madcatladyforever Mon 13-Jul-20 13:47:42

I was a single mum and my heart really wasn't in the job at all when my son was a baby as I felt so guilty farming him out.
I only really got back into work as a professional with my whole head and heart at work after he got to about 15 and had more of his own life and friends.

Phineyj Mon 13-Jul-20 13:48:11

Could be the job! I find mine interesting and it's still interesting post-DC, although I've got less time to do it in. Get your physical health checked out. I have felt awful at times with low vitamin D, low iron, endometriosis and migraine. Then see a career counsellor and see what might interest you. Your self-esteem will come back if you enjoy what you do, I think.

SeagoingSexpot Mon 13-Jul-20 13:50:08

I've been "part time" (4 days) since my first maternity leave 5 years ago and in that time I've nearly doubled my salary, changed companies, hugely broadened my base of experience, been promoted, and am now doing an 18 month qualification which adds a new and very valuable string to my bow. Bollocks to "part time means you're not committed".

I do think 3 days a week is hard though - it takes all your energy to run in place enough to stay where you are and it's hard to take on new significant challenges unless you're in a jobshare.

I also have to ask: where is your partner? How equal is the domestic balance? Do you have good childcare? Support at home, e.g. a cleaner or could you get one? Support at work from a manager, peer, mentor? Some space to do a qualification or even just have some time for you weekends to do a gym class or something?

AhNowTed Mon 13-Jul-20 13:51:07

@SiennaSienna agree. Likewise I already had a good job before the children. Took 12 weeks off each time as I was the higher earner. But for definite the biggest factor was my husband sharing the load.

SeagoingSexpot Mon 13-Jul-20 13:52:34

PS. given some of the physical and cognitive symptoms you report, I would also consider physical health and get some blood tests. How's your sleep? Diet? Could you have an underactive thyroid? B12, iron, or vitamin D deficiencies?

Trinketsfor20 Mon 13-Jul-20 13:56:06

I’m sorry you’re feeling like this OP but what do you have described does not resonate at all with me for example and I have a four-year-old and a five month old and my career has jumped forwards in the biggest leaps both times after the birth of my children. Both CV and oomph to build work as a significant part of my identity have sky rocketed.

Key questions are : where’s your partner in this? And what career stage were you at before kid 1?

CrayonedWalls Mon 13-Jul-20 13:57:17

I’m a better employee now I’m a mum. I’m more efficient, driven and I’m a better boss too. Brains are like muscles, they need to be exercised. It comes back, honestly it does.

But some things to overcome first

1. What I read in your OP is huge self doubt. I wonder if it would help to talk to someone about this. That to me is glue bigger obstacle.

2. Work comes with its own sacrifices but with the right organisation is totally possible to enjoy alongside being a mum. I work 12 hour days and both sets of parents live hundreds of miles away so but I have arranged great child care, have a DH who does 50% (if not more) - and I’m happy because I LOVE work. I love earning my own money, I love running a team. I love spending proper quality time with my bubs when I get it. So I’m at peace. But you need to be at peace with whatever you arrange.

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