There are lots of conversations in social media and in the workplace about preparing for maternity leave, but I’ve noticed there aren’t many discussions about what it’s like balancing it all when you come back to work—especially when your work requires significant travel time.
For some, this is the biggest challenge. And it is an essential one to overcome if we are to have a truly gender equal workforce at all career levels.
In my role as a consultant, I travel regularly, and far distances—from the U.K. to Australia—for my work with clients. Many people ask what it’s like traveling for work with two kids at home. While it’s not always easy, there are a few tips that work well for me:
Trust the people in your life to care for your children.
It’s important to have a support network in place to help care for your children while you’re away. It could be your partner, family or friends or a nursery or child-care facility. Most important is knowing they are in good hands.
Use technology carefully; it’s a double-edged sword.
With technology like Skype and video calling so commonplace, it’s easier than ever to check in with your loved ones any place and any time. I sometimes worry, though, about the effects this might have on them. Ask yourself, Are you checking in for you, or for them? Understand and respect time and space boundaries.
Know what you’re not willing to compromise.
There are always important things in life you’re not willing to compromise, and that’s perfectly fine. Identify those things early and upfront whenever possible, so you can plan your travel and client demands around them.
Make time for yourself.
Being away does provide an opportunity to get some sleep—take advantage of it! I also make time to exercise and focus on my needs. A healthy mom is a happy (and more energetic) mom.
Bring inspiration home.
While it might be difficult to be away, it’s important to remember that your children will grow up aware of the work you’re doing, and where this takes you around the world. Use these teachable moments to share, for example, that you saw a kangaroo in Australia or that you work with people from different cultures, languages and countries. These lessons can be an inspiration for them, and they send a positive message about the work you do.
My journey of returning to work and managing a global consulting career is a daily balancing act. But if you love the work you do, it’s possible to still be yourself while also having a happy and well-adjusted family.
Be yourself and make a difference with the work you do every day. Find an opportunity with Accenture Consulting.
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