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Calling All Moms: How to Relaunch Your Career

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Calling All Moms: How to Relaunch Your Career

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carol Fishman Cohen, co-author of the book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work. She was a speaker at The Conference Board's Women's Leadership Summit, and she presented a session and facilitated a panel discussion on the topic of relaunching your career after having children.

As former stay-at-home moms ourselves, both she and I know the challenges of trading in baby bottles for briefcases after leaving the workforce for an extended period of time. When faced with trying to merge back onto the business beltway, mothers often feel frustrated and alone as they try to figure out a game plan to do it successfully. Everyone knows how nerve-wracking it can be to start a new job or even return to an old one after weeks, months or even years. Pile on top of that the high emotions of separating from newborns and children and you can imagine the kind of stress mothers are under when they try to ease back into working full-time!

Cindy from Lindenhurst, Long Island is one such new mom:

Dear Michelle,

I became a mom recently, and now I'm faced with returning to work after my maternity leave. While it's difficult enough to imagine leaving my newborn, I'm even more nervous about coming back to my job after all of this time has passed. I worry that not only am I going to suffer from major separation anxiety, but that I won't be able to fit back into my organization and my team.

Do you have any advice on how to make this huge transition a little easier for me?

Congratulations, Cindy! I've got two boys of my own, and I know firsthand how amazing motherhood is. It brings a new richness and wisdom to your life, and most people don't realize this, but it's an incredible gift to your workplace, too. As a mother, you bring this unique perspective of managing a family - which is not the easiest task to do - and apply many of those same techniques to your team and your projects.

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The first piece of advice I can give you is to read these two books: Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work by Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin (Available in June) and The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies - and How You Can, Too by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette. Back on the Career Track is the guidebook that both Ms. Cohen and I wish we had when we were transitioning back to work! It has the authors' authentic perspectives as well as insights from over 100 women who relaunched their careers as well. The Milk Memos is also a fantastic read: it's encouraging, honest, and can be quite hilarious.

To tide you over in the time it takes to read these books, let me give you a little bit of my own perspective and insights.

Remember that this transitional period is going to be an emotional time, so don't beat yourself up if you find tears streaming down your face that first morning when you leave home or even that first evening when you leave work. The most strategic, thorough planning in the world is not going to be able to keep a handle on those emotions. You know as well as I do that fighting hormones is a battle seldom won by you! Know that emotions are going to be part of it, and be okay with that.

When you get back into the office, don't feel like you have to make up for the whole time you missed in a single day. Even Superwoman has her limits! Ease back into the office, and remember that time hasn't stood still there. Projects have continued, goals may have changed, and there may even be new additions to your team. Reacquaint yourself with the people in your office that first day. Try to wrap your arms around what's going on, what's changed and what's stayed the same. Learn what's important and just let people know that you're excited to be back.

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The nuts and bolts of returning to the office actually works depends on what kind of role you're playing with your child. Are you going to be utilizing flex time? Are you going to be working full-time right away? Are you nursing and trying to juggle that over the course of your workday? Figure out your new schedule and research how that schedule has worked for other women. The books I listed above will be very helpful!

And finally, be ready for the guilt 'cause it's gonna come. Guilt is just a given. If you're not at work, you feel guilty because you're not at work, and if you're not at home, you feel guilty because you're not at home. That's what being a mom is. So know that and then? Let it go.

So Cindy and all of the moms out there, embrace your motherhood. Learn from your mother and your grandmother and the other women in your life, and know that what you bring to the workplace is just a little bit more than who you were when you left.


For more FREE tips on advancing your career and navigating the workplace, sign up for my FREE e-zine "Lipstick Leadership" at LipstickLeadership.com today! And check out the products I've developed to guide you toward the success you deserve!




“It isn’t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are – not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within – that you can begin to take control.” Oprah Winfrey