This post was originally featured at Mothers Mean Business, a website community for the working parent. They particularly champion the career part time role and provide information and support for parents juggling their work/life balance.
Many years ago I sat in on a meeting with my Director and another Department Head. There was a mini white board in the room and the idea was to fill it up with tasks for an employee who would soon be returning to work part time, from maternity leave.
It was very promising. I was in my early twenties, overworked, underpaid and chomping at the bit for someone, anyone to take some of the pressure off. So there I sat, reeling off mundane task after mundane task – filing, opening the post, basic data entry etc etc. There were plenty of other contributions and together we created a mish-mash job of crappy tasks for this very lucky lady.
Because she was lucky.
Lucky to be getting a job at all.
We were told.
Things like this have a habit of coming back around and this same meeting was had about me a few years later. I can just imagine how it went…
“Come on everyone, we need a list of at least twenty things, that fill up an A4 sheet of paper so we can call it a job and fob her off with it.”
Or perhaps it was a company wide, call to action email –
Subject: Project Fob Her Off
If there’s any old shit that you don’t fancy doing anymore, whack it
over on an email by Friday and I’ll add it to the brain dead Mum list.”
Either way I went to my ‘back to work’ meeting a few weeks before and came away believing it was all going to be alright because you know – that sure was a long list and they’d obviously been considering my new position carefully.
I spent the next ten months filing, doing basic data entry and staring into space. It was as if everything I’d achieved, everything I had contributed over the years had been forgotten. My slate was wiped clean and I was back in a Junior role, a filler role that required no real skills or experience. It had a massive impact on my confidence and I started to believe that perhaps I hadn’t even been that good at my job in the first place, perhaps I hadn’t actually achieved that much. I started to wonder if I was lucky that they took me back. It was after all, terribly inconvenient of me to have a child and then request to come back part time.
What nonsense. Truth was, I’d allowed myself to be well and truly fobbed off and I was paying the price.
So if you are returning to work part time after maternity leave, don’t let yourself be mislead like I was. Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want, what you expect and definitely don’t be afraid to remind them of your previous experience and contributions to the company. You were away for ten months, you had a baby. You didn’t have your brain erased, you did not become less accomplished or less able. All you’re doing is cutting your hours and within your working hours you are still as driven and competent as you were before. Be the first to tell them this and don’t, ever allow anyone to fob you off with anything less than you deserve.