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The Phases of Motherhood – A Mother’s Perspective

Women have been having children for years, it’s no big deal; I am going to continue with my ‘normal’ life once the baby comes along; surely she can continue with her workload immediately when she returns, she hasn’t been gone that long. These are all comments we still hear today, where people still have the misconception that having a baby is a quick hiccup in everyday life. This is not the case, there are transitions in and out of environments both personally and professionally that we need to consider along the way.

Imagine having a child is like implementing a change programme. It has phases, it happens over a period of time and certainly isn’t just a one day event.

Phase One – Yikes/Yippee, “Im pregnant”
This is the transition out of the organisation for a period of time, prior to having the baby. This is the first ‘window of danger’ to be aware of. It can be during this transition out, where the working mum to be is not valued, supported or treated as someone literally leaving the organisation for some time.

To ensure a successful transition out, here are three key areas to focus on:

  1. Start to plan a handover at least two months out from leaving date (if only to allow yourself to be able to fully let go).
  2. Talk about expectations with people around you for a successful handover or transition out (your manager, peers, family etc).
  3. Document the agreed actions so all parties are on the same page regarding your transition out.

Phase Two – Yikes/Yippee, “A new baby”
This is the period when the mother is on leave, where the timeframe for each individual can vary quite considerably. This needs to be treated as another transition, phase or change in the process, rather than simply a short period of leave.

To ensure you remain engaged as a new mum while absent, consider;

  1. Keeping the communication lines open; whatever is happening, is it working for you? Keep in touch with your team mates and manager if you are keen to be kept involved.
  2. Consider and plan what your ideal timeframe and transition back looks like (even if this is six months out).
  3. Ask for help, support or suggestions from others (you don’t have to do it all yourself).

Phase Three – Yikes/Yippee, “I’m returning to work”
This is the period when the mother transitions back to work. Another ‘danger period’ to be aware of. This is where lots of returning mums fall off the career track and their talent is lost as a result of either returning to a role with less responsibility or deciding not to return at all.

To ensure a successful transition back to work consider the following;

  1. Formulate a transition plan including communication with all key people around you (family, manager, peers etc).
  2. Where possible, start slowly by working less hours back first and see what works and doesn’t work.
  3. Allow time to transition your child into their new environment as well.

These are a few tips to help you as a mother make this long term change as helpful as possible within each stage. Learn from each phase and consider your learnings and share with other transitioning mums.  You will be amazed at how many others are going through or have been through a similar situation.

Keep an eye out for The Phases of Motherhood – A Managers Angle, coming soon.

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