It’s a bad time to be a woman.
“I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions.”
One minute you’re a corporate high flier, with every PR in town chasing your business – the next, you’re on maternity leave and no one remembers your name. Suffering an identity crisis, post-baby, is one of those mental battles many women don’t like confronting and/or talking about. After all, there can be no greater societal tag than “mum” – it’s an achievement in itself and by far the hardest job in the world, if you ask me. But how do you cope when you’re accustomed to being invited to the best parties in town, but – post-baby, self-imposed isolation – you’re flat out scoring a kiddie play date?
And what about the mental anguish and unease associated with going from challenging, mentally stimulating full-time work to stay-at-home mum? How do you reconcile the two roles: from businesswoman to baby wrangler?
Personally, as a freelance journo and new mum, I hate the term “housewife” and bristled when my GP had me labelled as that on a medical form. I find these societal tags diminish you and your achievements. “No, I’m a freelance journalist!” I chided her. The poor love just looked at me like I was a crazy person. Leading psychologists say to make peace with this new chapter in your life.
Enjoy this time: It may sound like a cliché, but this is a special time in your life, and if you’re fortunate enough to be able to spend time at home with your small people, that really is a positive. After all, this is a time-limited role – your babies will quickly grow into school-age children, become less dependant as they begin to interact in the wider world and when you look back, the time you spent with them at home will have passed by in a flash.
Value the role: Raising the next generation to become useful, well-functioning citizens and ensuring that your child is raised in a warm, loving and encouraging environment so that he/she will reach their full potential is arguably the most important thing you’ll ever do. Recognise it for the important and valuable role that it is.
Focus on positives: If you are struggling, focus on positives not negatives. Don’t focus on what you’ve lost (status, stimulating interactions with work colleagues, for example). Acknowledge these losses, but then move on and focus on the joys of your new role: being your own boss, the sweet smiles, the first steps, first words and the knowledge that you are giving your child the best possible start in life.
Identify and challenge negative thoughts: Whenever you find yourself thinking something like: “I’m just a stay at home mum”, challenge the thought with something like: “Hold on, honey – that’s not true, I’m just being negative and making myself feel bad”. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on negatives, instead replace with positive thoughts such as “This is a really valuable role and a privilege to have this time with my child”.
Be kind to yourself: Inevitably, you’ll make mistakes at times. We all do, sister. Don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself and resolve to do better next time. Find out from friends, family and parenting books how best to deal with the various issues that arise with recalcitrant small people and you’ll be better prepared to deal with the same situation next time.
Form your own support group: Find other mums in the same situation and support each other – encourage, debrief with and laugh about the tough times and encourage each other. Helping someone else in the same situation will empower you too.
Image via pixabay.com
By Nicole Carrington-Sima
A two-day program for male staff, this Federal Government initiative was
developed by a Macquarie University academic. The program seeks to educate
men on how to achieve work/life balance, look after their health and to
participate more fully in their family life.Parenting rooms
Use by nursing mothers after they return from maternity leave.
Parental leave seminars
Designed for those taking parental leave or returning from leave. Issues
include career planning and identifying ways the workplace can support the
Ms Spencer says IBM’s policies have resulted in a high proportion of its
female staff returning to work after maternity leave.
The company also runs other diversity programs to The company has a
diversity council to help devise its ongoing diversity strategy.
“We think this is very important to have policies that accommodate the needs
of different staff members. You cannot talk about diversity if you are only
talking about one group of people such as mothers,” says Ms Spencer.
“Women at work need support but our population is men and women and parents
are men and women.”
As the job market picks up and the skills gap widens, employers will have to do more to retain good staff.
To that end, I’ll keep all you She Said readers up to speed with what’s happening out there in HR land so you know what you can haggle over with employers.
I have often advised friends, family and readers alike, to know what’s important to them in addition to money. In that way, if an employer laments at pay rise time that there’s no dosh in the kitty, then an alternative reward can be arranged.
More often than not, what people value most is time. The reward could be working from home one day a week or leaving early one afternoon a week to do a yoga class or to pick up a son, daughter, niece or nephew from school.
I will continue these “round ups” on an ad hoc basis to keep you all in the loop. In the meantime here’s the latest news.
In Melbourne, unions and employers have put forward separate proposals to allow up to 5 million Australians to “buy” an extra six weeks holiday leave a year. Taken as “unpaid leave”, such arrangements would provide employees with more personal time without penalty to their career. The plan is good for employers too as it saves them big money while also creating more loyal staff.
Lend Lease made news recently when it announced it would offer a $25 “emergency care relief rebate” to help offset the cost of a carer for a child who had to stay home sick on a day when it was important for the employee to come to work.
The property giant already offers paid maternity leave and work-based cr?ches.
“It’s $25 per incident — to help people pay for a nanny or carer to look after the child if they have to be at work,” Beth Winchester, human resource manager and mother of three, said.
“There is no upper limit … a child usually recovers better if the parent stays at home with them, but sometimes they have to come to work for something that just can’t be put off.”
Other companies making news for the right reasons include:
Bassett Consulting Engineers – for offering female employees paid maternity leave, flexible hours, job sharing, study leave and part-time work.
Sara Lee Household and Body Care – for offering flexible hours, work from home arrangements, paid maternity leave and the ability to `purchase’ extra annual leave through salary sacrifice.
Tabcorp – for allowing women returning from maternity leave to work part-time but retain full-time level superannuation contributions.