Going back to work after your second child – why it’s different and what to do

Wondering how you’ll cope retiring to work after your second child? Michelle Niziol from IMS Property Group) explains why she found returning after number two different, and how she dealt with it. 

In June 2018, I launched my fifth business, and in November, I welcomed my daughter into the world. Raising her along with my son is an incredibly fulfilling task, and one I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Before my husband and I decided to have a second child, we discussed what it would mean for me, a self-professed workaholic. I didn’t want to give up my job or slow down, but I certainly didn’t want to miss out on valuable time with my children.

The impact a second child has on a woman’s career is well-documented. Studies show that while 75% of women return to work after their first child, that number dwindles to 50% after the second. With the stresses of work and home life for two small children, it’s no wonder that many women find returning to their careers so difficult.

I’ll be honest: returning to work after one child is challenging, but two? It certainly wasn’t something I was prepared for. There was certainly a period of adjustment. How was I going to make this work? I’ve detailed my best tips below.

Return to work when it feels right

I was working within a month of having my son, because I love running my businesses so much. However, I took a bit more time off after having my daughter.

There were new responsibilities to consider, and I just felt like I needed a bit more time in the family unit before returning to work. There’s no ‘right time’ when it comes to picking up your career again, but don’t let that put you off. Once you feel like you’re ready to go back, you’re ready.

Remember the career woman in you

It doesn’t take long to feel like you’ve forgotten everything you’ve ever learned, when you leave work to have a child. However, this isn’t the case. You will have left for maternity as a competent career or businesswoman and you will return just as competent.

It’s amazing how quickly everything comes back to you. The challenging part about going back to work is the crisis in confidence. However, there are ways to combat this.

Before going back to work in January, I made a list of everything I had accomplished in 2018. This list was empowering and gave me the confidence I needed to walk into the boardroom with my head held high.

Recognise your new skills

Something I think a lot of women forget, is that being a mum gives you an entirely new skillset. Staying at home with your children fine-tunes people skills, the ability to solve a problem creatively, multitasking, and time management in a way that your job may not have been.

Many women focus on the time they’ve spent outside of the office, rather than the skills they’ve gained during their time away. I often find it’s helpful to reframe these new skills in the same way that a recruiter would.

Organising your children and having them out of the door on time would translate to excellent time management. Creating and building relationships with other mums highlights your networking skills and being around children all day has improved your negotiation skills.

(Here are 17 new skills you can put on your CV after becoming a mum.)

Be flexible and stay positive

I employ the same routine with my first child as I do with my second. I’m usually up early and start work right away. But I take a few hours off to get my son ready for school and my daughter ready for the day ahead. I then work until I pick my son up from school in the afternoon, take him home and continue working into the evening, after bedtime duties.

I’m in position where I can be flexible with my working day and I have a great support network around me. Being flexible with your schedule is important with one child, but I cannot stress enough the importance of flexibility when you’ve got two.

I love my job, and I love my family, but the standard 9-5 day would make it very difficult to experience both of them in this way.

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Photo by Kevin Gent