Thursday, 16 July 2009

The transition from the end of maternity leave to the next stage

One particular group of people that I am passionate about is Mums and it is one of my two focal points of my coaching practice. One reason for this focus is that I am a mother myself but it goes much further than that and to help illustrate what I mean, I am going to share some of my own journey.

In short becoming a Mum led to major change in my life. Prior to having my two girls, I worked for the largest professional services firm in the world. My clients were organisations like the British Library, the Inland Revenue and so forth. Often I would leave the house before it was light and come back long into the night. My focus was work and I loved the cut and thrust of the work place. Interestingly for me there was not a seismic shift after my first child was born. I returned to work when she was nine months on a 70% contract. I was able to negotiate 3 days at the office or at a client and half a day at home or put two half days together to go to training events which invariably were on a Friday. There was a shift in that my family became a higher priority than my job. However it still meant making a certain number of sacrifices for the job such as spending three days a week for two months up in Newcastle, working with a client!

The transition came after daughter number two. It culminated with a number of other changes in my life. One was that we moved out of the centre of St Albans to a village just outside Hitchin three weeks before the birth. Despite the relatively short distance between the two places, our lifestyle changed completely in lots of little ways. So for example I had to drive everywhere whereas before I had walked everywhere. It took a long time to feel settled here because many mothers I met had established groups of friends from either their antenatal class or a first baby group. I also realised that I had changed. I no longer relished the idea of the commute into London even on a part-time basis. My main priority was my family and having two children, 15 months apart, meant that the first year was exhausting, and being a full-time Mum in a village could be very isolating at times.

The saving grace for me was that my company had a policy which allowed every member of staff access to a coach for a maximum of six sessions per year. I realised that I needed to make use of that service to sort out what was most important to me and enable me to work out what to do at the end of my maternity leave. In going through that process I realised that despite the potential risks, that going it alone and setting up my own business where I became a WFHM was what I wanted to do. The coaching gave me the clarity I needed to make the decision and the push to go out there and do it. Now I do what I love – coaching.

Reflecting on all of that, it became clear that motherhood is a major time of transition and gives women the opportunity to review and reprioritise what is important to them. However sometimes with all that is going on, women do not have the time or the access to the resources they need to make the best choices for themselves. For all these reasons, I and another mother who is an HR professional run group sessions for Mums with young families who are considering what they want to do following their maternity leave. We run a group session because very often Mums develop their own groups of friends as mothers either through the NCT or other routes, and it allows us to offer the service at a much lower rate than a one on one coaching session. For more information contact me at

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