For many mums, September still glistens with that ‘new page of the jotter’ feeling that we had when WE were at school.
Only now, we send our children off to open up their shiny notebooks (or perhaps their iPads) again (with the added spectre of yet another academic year under the shadow of Covid still looming large in our minds).
But for some mothers, September will also herald a return to work after a prolonged career break - perhaps following maternity leave or for others, after a longer period of time at home while their children were smaller.
As their kids transition into new year groups and settings, many mums find that the time is ripe for embarking on a fresh work challenge or new job.
A common demographic for my clients and listeners is women emerging from the intensity of early parenthood, a time of huge change when confidence levels have often taken a significant dip. Taking on new roles and new challenges at this time can be rewarding but also tricky, and can require some serious inner work in terms of confidence-boosting.
A crisis of confidence after a period of time away from the workplace is incredibly common with 6 out of 10 women finding re-adjusting to the workplace a challenging experience.
As a positive psychology and anti-self sabotage coach I work with both individuals and organisations to empower women in terms of their confidence and self esteem and to shift their approach away from feeling like an imposter and into a space of radical self-compassion and kindness. So how can mums build up - or build back - their confidence?
Keep reading to learn 3 easy confidence-lifting practices you can start to implement as you take on your new role:
1. Practicing self-kindness and a kind inner voice
As mothers it can be all too easy to get lost in an ongoing dialogue with a mean-ass inner critic. This voice of doom can zap the joy from our days and interactions, leaving us feeling like failures.
As you embark on this exciting new chapter in your life, spend time listening to how you speak to yourself and work on turning that negative chatter into the cheerleading voice you need right now.
If in doubt, ask “What would my great friend say to me in this moment?” If they wouldn’t say it to you - or you to them - then bin that negative inner comment and change it to something more helpful and WAY more kind.
2. Dig for ‘confidence treasure’ in your motherhood journey
Now, I’m the first to admit that motherhood is NOT all apple pie and roses, and in fact in my house frequently resembles mysterious stains and cold cups of tea.
But for mothers it also provides evidence and examples of the very best in overcoming adversity, showing commitment and following your passion - all of which are golden attributes for team members and workplaces.
How have you shown up in stellar ways in your motherhood journey? What awesome skills has becoming a mother highlighted in you?
Spending some time remembering and revelling in what you’ve achieved can give you a quick confidence uptick - but is something we can completely forget to do!
I often work with the MOST impressive mothers. Yet they rarely take stock of how their mothering skills and experience is a huge asset that should be celebrated! Doing so regularly can offer an instant boost to your confidence levels - and over time will buoy up your self esteem too.
3. Banish imposter syndrome - you have got this AND you deserve this!
Imposter syndrome is extremely common in women and can be a stumbling block for returning mothers.
Thoughts such as “I shouldn’t be here”, “I don’t think I belong in this kind of workplace” or “What made me think I could do this?” can run through the minds of mums going back into old careers or embarking on a post-children career change.
As you head back to paid work, it’s worth noting that research shows this is not unique to mums or returners. In fact, 28% of working women say imposter syndrome has held them back from speaking up in a meeting and 60% of women who didn’t start their own business because of a lack of confidence blamed not feeling like ‘the kind of person’ who could start a business.
It can be helpful to recognise how universal this is - and to accept that it’s just a story we are telling ourselves.
Instead of asking ‘am I good enough?” take some time to list out why the company you’ll be working for chose you, what your unique strengths are - and how damn lucky they are to have you on their team.
Developing an inner voice that champions you, recognising what motherhood has given you as an employee and focusing on your awesome skills and strengths will be invaluable in keeping your confidence cup full, as you embrace big changes ahead.
Confidence jitters are normal when it comes to times of transformation but taking the leap and channeling courage is always worth it. This autumn, you’ve absolutely got this!
About the author
Lucy Orton is a positive psychology and anti-self sabotage coach who works with both individuals and organisations to empower women in terms of their confidence and self esteem and to shift their approach away from feeling like an imposter and into a space of radical self-compassion and kindness.
You can find Lucy at:
Booking link: bit.ly/bookinglucy