Working Moms & How To Successfully Return To Work

Ellen has been interviewed by Ramona Mathis, Founder of Mamaklub Studio about how working moms can return to work successfully. You can find the German version of this interview here.

Ellen is a Leadership & Career Coach and a mom of two boys. She supports people in their personal development towards an authentic and happy life and career path. Ellen also gives corporate training on self-leadership and coaching. Her clients include On-Running, lululemon, and 25 Hours Hotels, among others.


Ramona: Ellen, what do you observe with your coaching clients who are parents and especially with mums who want to get back into the world of work? 


Ellen: The birth of a baby often causes parents to re-evaluate their career goals and priorities. I notice this again and again with my coaching clients and my own experience as a mum underlines this, because suddenly this little person is here and everything you do professionally and also privately has to be all the more meaningful to justify the time you spend away from your baby. If work is not meaningful, this can quickly become a huge burden for parents. 


The need for efficiency is increasing, as is the need for flexible working hours, part-time models, flexitime, remote work and other modern ways of working, without which juggling work, family and everyday life can quickly become a high-performance sport. Unfortunately, many companies still do not allow their employees to reduce their workload and therefore top talents often decide to leave companies and switch to more flexible employers. 

Ellen Million Coaching Career Clarity x Mamaklub


With the mothers and fathers that I coach, I notice that doubts regularly arise about returning to work. Doubts about the extent to which you can reintegrate into the subject, and also into the team. Furthermore, doubts about whether you are good enough for the job at all can surface, also known as imposter syndrome. This can lead to parents no longer seeking promotions or negotiating salaries out of sheer gratitude for simply having a job. 


Words such as ‘maternity holiday and paternity holiday’, which are widely used in German-speaking countries to describe maternal and paternal leave, certainly do not help parents to internalise how much work is done during parent boot camp. Leadership skills such as a sense of responsibility, (self-)organisation, communication skills, time management and resilience, to name just a few, are rapidly strengthened as parents and are valuable, transferable skills for the job. Parents need to be aware of these so that they can internalise them and return to work with a stronger sense of self-confidence. 




Ramona: In your opinion, how can parents cope well with returning to work after maternity/paternity leave? 


Ellen: The social expectation is all too often still that you can be a good mother OR a working mom, instead of normalising that you can be a good mother AND a working mom. 


There needs to be a societal rethink here so that mothers in particular are not put under additional pressure when returning to work and pursuing their careers, but are instead encouraged. We can all make a start here. 


It can also help to agree on a comeback plan with your employer before you go on maternity/paternity leave. This includes discussing the timing and conditions of returning to work, possible flexible working models and training opportunities during the absence. The sooner this is clarified, the sooner ‘peace of mind’ is possible during maternity/paternity leave and when returning to work. Staying in regular contact with the employer, for example by providing occasional updates on availability and important projects, can also make it easier to return to work. 


Ellen Million Coaching Career Clarity x Mamaklub

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Ramona: What about mothers who no longer find any meaning in their job once the baby is here – how can they deal with this?


Ellen: This is a topic that is talked about far too little. The lack of meaning in a job is one of the most often discussed topics in my coaching, whether you have already returned to work or are still on maternity/paternity leave and already thinking about returning gives you shivers. Becoming a parent is one of the biggest transformations in life and naturally, this doesn’t just pass you by without a trace. 


It is important to take time and reflect on your feelings and needs to realise what exactly is triggering the lack of purpose. Is it the role, the team, the manager, a lack of passion for the industry, or something else? Understanding the root cause will be a great first step to creating suitable solutions. For further steps towards career clarity, download Ellen’s free Career Clarity Guide.


If the lack of purpose in your current job cannot be resolved, it can be helpful to consider a career change. This may mean taking on new challenges or even venturing into self-employment. Career counselling, mentoring or professional coaching can be useful in planning and implementing the next steps. An open exchange with other mums on this topic can also do you good, for example via Ramona’s Mamaklub, as it makes you realise that you are not alone and that the issue of a lack of purpose in your job is much more widespread than you might think. 



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