Are you still useful – or relevant – now you’re a mum?
Do you worry – post-children – whether you’re still relevant any more? Whether you have any right to harbour ambition? Find out why we believe that you are, and you most definitely should.
I recently spoke to an impressive woman on the phone. She’s a chemical engineer (her specialism is stem cell research), currently on a career break with two small children. She’s also in the process of launching a small business.
On our call she was funny, clever, ambitious, confident, energetic and interesting. So I was surprised when she confessed that as a mother who has stepped away from her professional world, she often asks herself this question:
“Am I still useful for anything?”
Her honest question reminded me that this woman is far from alone in feeling like this. That many women, when their career is taken away can lose a big part of their identity, and start to question whether they still have anything to offer the world outside their family.
And it’s easy to understand why this idea flourishes. Because it’s not just a question that mothers ask themselves. A good friend attempted to resume her fashion career once her children started school.
Before she became a mother, she was a senior fashion buyer for a well-known high street brand. And she was excellent at her job. She’d also kept up with the industry (she loves fashion) by blogging about it while she was at home.
However, attempting to return to fashion buying proved demoralising. She struggled to land job interviews. And in the single one she did secure – for a more junior position with a less well-known brand – she was told that she was “no longer relevant” and recommended to pursue an alternative career.
Unsurprisingly she gave up on trying to return to fashion buying after that.
Self-doubt inspired me to start Talented Ladies Club
It’s identity crises and experiences like these that inspired me to launch Talented Ladies Club.
Because, while I had kept my career going through motherhood (as a single mum the option to take a break from work, or even a long maternity leave, wasn’t available to me), I met many women who struggled to re-find their professional mojo, or opportunities, after one.
And, as a result, believed they were no longer entitled to the career or success they once had.
The final catalyst for me to do something about this were two mums I regularly saw at the school gate. One was a solicitor and the other an architect, and both had enjoyed careers in London pre-children.
But, around the same time both women were looking for (and failing to secure as they were embarrassingly over-qualified) part time admin jobs in our local town.
Why were they attempting to settle for jobs that would have given them little personal satisfaction, status or pay? Because they assumed that’s all they could get that would fit around school hours after taking a career break.
I was depressed for these women, and determined to show them, and other mothers like them, that they could expect – and get – more. And I wanted to help them do it.
Our mission is to inspire you to pursue your ambitions
So I asked my friend Kary Fisher to join me, and together we created Talented Ladies Club. Our mission was to show women that motherhood didn’t have to be the end of their professional ambition. Instead it can be the start of a new adventure. We even made a video about it:
We wanted women to believe that they could still earn the money they deserved, do work they loved, and raise their family – and to help them go out and make it happen.
This was a bold belief. We were well aware of the very real limitations that hold women back, including the discrimination that still exists today around working mothers (especially having experienced it ourselves).
And we were personally very well acquainted with the real restrictions that exist when you have children.
But we believed then – and believe now – that, with determination, creativity, resourcefulness and support, mothers DON’T need to settle for second or third best. And that yes, we ARE still relevant and useful. Just look at some of the statistics in our video.
Do you need help finding your new purpose?
So what can you do if you too wonder whether you’re still useful? Still relevant? Still have opportunities available to you?
Over the past six and a half years we’ve published thousands of articles and interviews, and many offer wise advice and inspiring stories of others who have trodden your path. You can read other women’s stories here.
As for articles, here are six, chosen by me, that you may find helpful in seeking direction and reassurance.
1) 17 new professional skills motherhood gives you
Think you lose skills when you take a career break to raise children? Think again. This article celebrates the many new skills you can add to your repertoire – and even CV – as a mother.
2) How one mum clawed her way back from rock bottom
Read one mum’s experience of losing herself after having children – and how she carved a new life for herself. And learn the one question that helped her take her first step away from rock bottom.
3) How to tame your negative inner voices
If you’re plagued by negative inner voices telling you you’re not good enough, no longer relevant, or that no one will want you any more, then we recommend following the advice in this article.
4) How to stop making excuses – and start doing
Feel frustrated at your lack of progress or motivation so far in resuming your career or taking a new step – maybe in the freelance or business world? This article takes the five biggest excuses we make for not getting started and shows you how to overcome them.
5) Three ways you can (finally) get started on your goal
Looking for positive motivation to achieve a professional goal? Find out why you need to NOT have a back-up plan (yes really), invest your own money in it and tell people about it.
6) Why you need to learn to love failure
And finally, if worrying you may not succeed is holding you back, then you need to read this. Learn why, rather than avoiding the risk of failure, you need to embrace it – and even actively seek it out.
Get help from us to work out what you want to do next
If you’re completely stuck on what you want to do next, and need some direction, then we’ve created a Career Audit Workbook that will help.
The audit takes you through a series of psychological exercises and questions to help you identify where your passions and skills really lie, and what kind of career (or business) direction might be a good fit for you next.
Then, to ensure your new insights don’t just remain theory, at the end of your workbook you complete two pages of goals and actions to help you make positive progress.
Remember – you ARE still useful
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: you ARE still useful. You haven’t lost any experience or skills. In fact, motherhood has added to the richness of both.
And while you may feel that the world has moved on while you’ve been lost in a fog of nappies and bedtime stories, I can assure you that it doesn’t take much to catch up again.
All you need is the confidence in you – the core person inside your wrapping of skills and experience; the ambitions, determination and resilience you own.
You’re still you, and with a bit of dusting off, and refreshing and updating of your practical skills and CV, you’ll be ready to take on the world again. Because trust us, the working and business world needs more mothers.
Hannah Martin is the founder of Talented Ladies Club, an award-winning copywriter, a qualified psychotherapist and a mum of two.
Photo by Nicholas Bui