Having a baby often means putting your career on hold - at least for a while. Although motherhood can be one of the most rewarding roles of your life, it doesn’t diminish the fact that making the transition from intellectually engaged career woman to fulltime mother is not always easy. Yuliana Topazly of Buddywith made the transition five years ago and admits she struggled. So here are the top 12 pieces of advice she wishes she had been given:
- Seek out supportive communities of fellow parents that you can tap into. These can be virtual or physical. It is important to be in touch, talk about your challenges, share experiences, listen to other people going through the same journey as you. By connecting with others, you will know you are not alone – and what you are going through is completely normal.
- Reflect on each day. Ask yourself: What have I learnt today? How did I feel about it? What was I really proud of today? Answering these questions each day will help your own self-exploration and allow you to recognise and build upon your progress.
- Prioritise 'me' time. This is especially important when you become a mum. There are no longer days off, weekends or a sick leave... so you must ensure you have a chance to switch off and have time for yourself.
- Don't be afraid to share how you feel. Talking things through can help to ensure you get the support you need at home. Partner’s aren’t telepathic – they need you to communicate with them if they are to help you.
- Engage with outside world. Learn a new skill – there are so many options and joining a class is a great way to meet new people outside the ‘new mums’ network, give you time away from the childcare, keep your brain engaged, and give you a sense of achievement.
- Make sure you are happy with your childcare arrangements. Nothing is worse than constantly worrying about your child while you aren’t with them - and it will leave you feeling mentally ragged. Invest time in finding the right solution for you and your child.
- Try out the local children’s centre. These are fantastic places which offer dozens of free courses with crèche facilities – and most importantly parenting courses and peer to peer support groups. You need never feel you are struggling on your own again.
- Share what you know. Keep your skills up to date by using them to support others in the community. Consider a skills swap as a way to learn something new.
- Using mindfulness is a great way to stay calm and avoid that overwhelmed feeling, especially when parenthood gets really tough. Just a few minutes each day for yourself could make a huge difference. There are apps, books, YouTube videos and podcasts to help if you feel you need some mindful guidance.
- Don’t ignore the outside world. Engage with your partner and their life and work, take an interest in the world outside your baby. Stay in touch with what is happening in the world and how it impacts you and your family.
- The family budget is a common cause of conflicts and misunderstandings. So budget accordingly and make the most of the free options available in your area. There are hundreds of community groups offering free opportunities for parents to learn and relax, and for children to develop and play. Invest some time in doing your research – it is amazing what you will find and how little you need to spend!
- When the time comes to go back to work remember that you were employable before you had a baby and you are even more employable now as you have learnt so many new skills – so make sure you reflect this on your CV.
Yuliana Topazly is founder of BuddyWith.org.uk – a supportive community of parents and experts who are there to help each other, offer advice, and share experiences.