“What I am I doing? I’m in the sales meeting thinking about the bloody lamb! Putting aside for one minute my tiredness and feelings of guilt, I’m also struggling to focus on my job. This working Mum thing isn’t easy. Yet there is a way through….”
I remember my mind would dart from worrying about whether my baby was sleeping to agonising over writing a report that I felt needed to be perfect (and that’s a topic for another time – perfectionism).
That loss of focus that mums experience can create a sense of mental chaos and if you could peer inside and see those thoughts, you’d see a weaving web of worries whizzing back and forth at high speed. Keeping up with those thoughts can feel like an impossible task, but this is pretty much the norm for a lot of mothers returning to work, whether it’s full-time or part-time.
There are a few effective strategies that have proved very effective with my mummy clients who have returned to their workplace, empowering them to take back control, focus on their job and feel more resilient and calmer. So here and now, I’m sharing four of my most effective methods with you below…
Break Your Day Up
There’s nothing worse than thinking about the big task in front of you and procrastinating over doing it. It really helps your brain if you break the task down into smaller, more manageable, bite-sized chunks. This is immensely effective in preventing feeling overwhelmed and makes the overall job in hand less intimidating.
Take Short Breaks (for you)
You know that feeling when you’re staring at your computer screen and you’re not sure what to write, where to start and how something is going to look? Taking a short break away from your workspace is a strategic method of refreshing your brain to help you see a task in a new way. Actually getting up and moving away from your desk can prevent that ‘decision fog’ we so often experience and you’ll be surprised at the stuff you can come up with when you sit back down!
Organise Your Mailbox
It’s normal to have the sense of dread when you log into your emails, especially when you see an email arrive from someone who needs answers now and someone else who needs something done yesterday! It’s a recipe for certain overwhelm, fear of failure and possibly burnout. My suggestion is that you could deal with your inbox as soon as you get into the workplace and create sub-folders for emails to filed in – using the FAST system – read it, decide whether to File it, Assign it to someone who can help, Store it for future reference or Throw it in the wastebin. Don’t be a slave to your inbox…set a time to check your inbox every hour instead of panic-checking every few minutes and turn your notifications off. That will lower your distraction levels and allow you to not only feel more in control but will enable you to get on with the work you need get done first.
Mums tend to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and despite their outward demeanour, internally they may be struggling but not wanting to admit this due to feeling like it would be admitting defeat or failure. Sharing their thoughts, worries or concerns about what’s on their mind, whether it’s a work issue or a personal challenge with a supportive manager may appear to be one of the most difficult things to do, but NOT asking can you do so much more harm than good. It’s good to be aware that even the most successful people have reached out and asked for help and this shows maturity, initiative and accountability. Many of my clients have discovered that asking for help, communicating and sharing in the right way can be a powerful tool when done correctly and opens the door to a positive support network and that weight…well, it just gets lighter and lighter.
If you’re an HR professional and you have mums-to-be currently on maternity leave or you have new mums about to return to your organisation and you’re wanting to ensure there is ample support for them before they return so they can hit the ground running, please share this article.
And if you’d like to talk to me about how I can offer my support with one-to-one coaching during their transition of returning, please do get in touch with me. It doesn’t cost anything for an initial chat and we may just on great! – Call me on 01179 610 580 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential for failure.” Napoleon Hill