I was always thinking of myself as an ambitious professional and a career driven person. As many of contemporary women, I managed to achieve quite a lot before giving birth to my son.
I was a team leader in a fast growing international company, always busy with learning new things, mastering my skills and enjoying working with people. No wonder that the idea of staying home with a child seemed a bit frustrating. I felt like I am missing out on my personal and professional growth. Don’t get me wrong, I am really happy that the society came to the stage when a mother can take up to 3 years off work and dedicate this time to her child. I wouldn’t trade the moments spent with my baby for any career in the world. But still, I think many moms will agree with me, that staying home and being busy with household, makes you feel sometimes like you are losing yourself and stagnating with your personal development.
I suggest you should try to give your maternity leave a different perspective! Think of it as an opportunity for personal growth and professional development. Yes, it’s not easy, especially for an expat mom without support of the relatives, but it’s very rewarding too. It gives you a great sense of self confidence, satisfaction and is extremely important for your well being. Plus, by the moment you come back to work you may realize that you not only didn’t lose your professional skills but actually brushed them up during the months of maternity leave!
I’ve prepared several ideas how you can grow your personal and professional potential. Just pick up anything which resonates with you and enjoy!
♥ Follow the news in your industry.
Nowadays things are changing very fast, what was actual a month ago, might be obsolete by the time you come back to work. Consider reading an article or two a week on your professional topic. Or occasionally meet your colleagues or professionally active friends. This will make you feel that you still hold a good grip on your field of expertise.
♥ Extend your area of interests.
Think of something new you would like to learn about. Maybe it’ll be psychology, teaching, computer engineering, or anything else. Then start to read books, articles, or watch documentaries or talks on this topic. It will broaden your horizon, keep your brain busy learning new things and, who knows, maybe even be of a serve for your career.
♥ Take a free online course.
The following two education providers, Coursera or Edx offer a great variety of free online courses with world known professors. Learn new skills which can make you a more competitive professional in the future. You can learn anywhere – at your own place – and enjoy being a part of online students’ community !
♥ If you can, engage occasionally in a professional activity.
This depends on your area of expertise of course, but certain professions allow this. For example, I am also a language teacher, so while being on maternity leave I was giving private lessons 2-3 hours per week. Of course this will not make your living, but my goal was to be active professionally and to have a short break from household duties. You might consider writing an article on your professional topic, give some consultations, etc. You can even do it as a volunteer activity, it will still give you a good feeling of being valued and appreciated – or even join MommyAbroad Writers Team and be the Leader of your own project.
In the upcoming articles I will give you some ideas on how to find time in a busy mom’s schedule for personal development. For now, I will just say that it should be first of all fun for you! Don’t let it be stressful. Make yourself a plan of personal growth activities and try to follow it. If you complete everything you planned, great! Celebrate it, praise yourself! However if you fail, don’t feel guilty or angry with yourself. Remember, your goal is to be happy and joyful, so just enjoy everything you do, have fun learning and trying new things!