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Common Fears For Returning Parent's

on Tue Feb 25 2020

Despite all of these different experiences there are some common fears we face when
waving off our life projects and head to the grown-up world of paid employment again.
They can feel huge, stifling and mega hurdles to jump over – but they don’t need to stay
that way. Here they are along with some tips to combat them…

I won’t know how to do my job anymore. Given the length of time we take for
parental leave and the pace of change in most workplaces, this could feel like a very
real worry but fear not we’ve got you covered. Ask your employer (or specifically
your line manager) to prep some info on what’s changed while you’ve been away.
Be specific – are there new team members, structures, processes or systems you
need training on? Then ask that this gets put into a training plan for you or meet and
greets go into your diary with the new faces. Some line managers will be really
proactive with this but if you’re in doubt don’t wait – grab your needs and put them
straight in front of your employer, after all they want you to feel up to speed and
engaged don’t they.

I’m not going to be able to fit everything in. Having a few plans and trying different
routines in the beginning will help. You don’t have to have it all nailed by the end of
week one – work, kids, life in general all shift around at times but holding on to what
is important and what energises you will steer you forward. Use these prompts as a
- Write down your regular weekly tasks that will keep you afloat. They will look
different for everyone, but have everything from personal care, to drop off
and pick up routines, to the food shop on there.
- Then figure out your boundaries in relation to them all. So for example, if
you’re usually found in the supermarket ticking off your shopping list but you
know that takes double the time of an online shop, do you want to switch the
way you get your bread and milk? If you have a partner at home, how many
bath and bedtimes can you handover? If exercise is something that’s a
necessity for you, what are the minimum number of times you’re going to
want to stick your trainers on?
- Then it’s time to align your time with your needs. Doing it visually can be
really powerful and actually plotting the times in a diary or planner.
Efficiencies are everywhere – maybe your exercise might become part of
your commute or it’s time to relax your expectations on keeping your house
dust free all the time.

My boundaries / working pattern will stop me achieving. Now this is a big one, and
I want to start by saying there are some scary numbers out there about
discrimination, the gender pay gap and women reaching senior positions, coupled
with all the anecdotes we hear, it’s a hard narrative to shake. However, the power is in 
your hands when it comes to YOUR experience. I’m not denying there are links
between working flexibly and lack of opportunities right now, but that’s about
employers not your capability or potential. The number of hours you work doesn’t
determine your ability and desire for success. Boundaries come with a pretty limiting
connotation as well, but here’s an alternative take for you…
- Boundaries aren’t there to limit you but they are there to help you be happy,
to be the best possible version of you and to keep you focussed on your
- Working flexibly / part time / compressed hours / *insert your own version
here* / doesn’t mean you’re not able to achieve success. How you achieve it
may change, but success is what you define it as.
- Development comes in all shapes and sizes, and you’ve just had one of the
biggest learning experiences of your life as you’ve got your head around
parenting. A good dose of reflection about all the incredible skills you’ve
acquired and continued to develop while you’ve been away from the

Fears are as real as you let them be. They can limit you, they can impede your mindset and
get so deep routed they build barriers. You don’t have to let them though – you do you, face
into the fears and tell them (out loud if you want) why they’re wrong. Why you’re stronger
than them and how you’re going to take them on. Here’s to lots of strong returns!