Career Mapping for Mums

Career Mapping for Mums is so important. Many of us return to the workplace when we become a parent and spend the first few months battling the logistics of getting through the day-to-day routine.  This is a really tough time.  Many can feel at this stage that the daily battle is not worth it.  Some of us give up on the work battle and focus instead of the trials and tribulations of home life.  For those of us that do stay, where do we go next?

What are the options?

What are the barriers?

Where do we end up?

Lean In

In Sheryl  Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’, the idea of a career matrix (or a ‘jungle gym’ as is referred to by Lori Goler, who worked with Sandberg at Facebook), rather than a career ladder is presented.  I like this a lot because it gives working mums options.  Sandberg states:  ‘The most common metaphor for careers is a ladder, but this concept no longer applies to most workers.’  So the notion of ‘working your way up the career ladder’ is dated.  It suggests that there are only 3 options:

  1. Go up and get promoted
  2. Go back down it and get demoted
  3. Get off the ladder and give up on your career

Yes, you could stay where you are on the ladder, but ladders aren’t very comfortable places to be stationary, especially if others are coming up behind you and clambering over you.

So let’s run with the idea of a career matrix or a career map – where there are lots of different options.  Your job is simply to choose which avenue you will take.  Just acknowledging this takes a lot of pressure off many of the women we have coached in our workshops.

Career Mapping for Mums

A career map can be fluid, flexible and more fun.

It makes us feel like we are in control of where we are heading, which gives us more ownership and motivation.

So how can we use the notion of a career path?

Consider starting with an end goal or destination.  This may be very different from where you are now, but don’t let that put you off.  You may also not know what your end goal will be, but you may know how you wish to feel or how you wish to be spending your time in 5 years’ time.  Paint this picture and keep on making changes until it feels right.

Next, do a quick reality check…

–          What do I love about my job?

–          What do I hate about it?

–          What am I good at?

–          Where are my weaknesses?  Do I need to develop these to move on?

–          What challenges me now?

–          What gives me the ‘buzz’?  Do I get enough ‘buzz’?

–          Am I happy with the time I get to spend with my family?  Is my family happy?

–          What’s more important to me and my family right now – money; time with family; progression at work; status?

–          Can I stay where I am and broaden and develop into the best I can be without having to move?

Think about all the options you now have – and don’t hold back!

–          Be creative – what different projects could I do?

–          Who else could I work with?

–          Which roles could I do?

–          Which qualifications/training could I do?

–          Could I move team/department/company/country….  Think big!

By this stage you should have made a long list of options and opportunities.  It’s very possible that many of them will not be viable, but some of them (and possibly one of them) will jump out at you.  If it doesn’t, take some time out and mull things over and return to your list at a later date.

So we don’t need to feel mummy-tracked or without hope that we have no career direction.  Yes there will be those who challenge us along the way and yes there will be moments when our confidence plummets, but if we have an end-goal and we know there are always options, that’s half the battle.  Finally, I find this quote really inspirational for working mums:

‘Working parents are equivalent to a library that is filled with books that provides us with inspiration and morals.’
Samara Ali, Pakistan 2013

Written by Helen Letchfield

Share this story

Sign up for industry updates