The first child entails huge changes to every aspect of life. As a mother, you have to reinvent yourself in some respects. Returning to work after maternity or parenting leave is a major step for many mothers. Prepare thoroughly – and in advance.
The pregnancy was no walk in the park. Neither was the birth. But now the baby is here, and everything is ... DIFFERENT! Becoming a mother turns a woman’s life upside down like no other experience, and in many different ways. They are busy like never before, the weeks and months of parenting leave fly by, and the first day back to work is fast approaching. Sometimes it’s not easy as a mother to keep a clear mind. That’s why it’s good to reflect on and discuss the most important issues already during pregnancy. The subject of retirement provision often gets forgotten: Are you still adequately covered in your new phase of life?
The highest heights and the lowest lows – suddenly they are so incredibly close together. And no, it’s not only because of the hormones! Regardless of the biochemical processes that take place in a woman’s body, it is a huge change to suddenly be responsible for a small, helpless being around the clock. Just as you start to process these changes, maternity or parenting leave comes to an end. Returning to work is a challenge for many women. The job is more or less the same. Only you as a new mom are not. Maybe you have asked yourself: “Do I even fit in the team anymore?”
Don’t worry, that is completely normal. Give yourself time to adjust and to find your niche in your new day-to-day working life. Think about what could help. Would you be happier in a new role? With other responsibilities? Be aware of your needs and communicate openly. Know that you still make a valuable contribution and don’t talk yourself down.
Having children can pose a risk to your career – but it doesn’t have to! The opposite can also be true: Caring for children can offer the perfect chance to gain or expand skills. For example, mothers are often especially good at planning, improvising, and successfully managing crises. Soft skills that are vital in the family – and absolutely advantageous for your career. Smart managers will appreciate your personal development. Who knows: Maybe you can even negotiate a salary increase.
By law in Switzerland, employees have 14 weeks (98 days) of paid maternity leave. Some employers grant their women employees more paid leave. In some cases, you can also take overtime, vacation, or unpaid leave after your paid maternity leave ends. Review your options – and if nothing of the sort is provided for, then ask. Discuss the time of your return to work with your employer early on. Arrange a meeting a number of weeks after giving birth to confirm or adjust your plan. Quite a few new mothers realize during their maternity leave that they would prefer to stay home longer. Your employer may be flexible in this regard.
In general, your employer is not obligated to fulfill your wish for fewer work hours. If you don’t do anything, then your current employment contract will remain unchanged. Talk to your employer as soon as you have announced your pregnancy. In most cases, you can find a good solution. Maybe job sharing? Consider unconventional arrangements, for example spreading your work hours across several days or concentrating the hours on fewer days. Can you choose when to work? Maybe it would be easier for you to start and end work early. Or you could work more from home and save the commute time.
Did you quit your old job to be at home with the children and now have a longer period of parental leave behind you? In this case, returning to work can be even more complicated. Is your former employer interested in having you back? Would it be better to look for a new job closer to home? Or are you considering changing careers? It’s not always easy to find interesting part-time roles on the job market. Ask around and have a look at job search portals such as mamiexpress.ch or directly on the websites of the companies you would like to work for.
Parents: It’s best to think about how you and your partner want to share family responsibilities already during pregnancy. Are you a housewife and mother through and through who wants to take an extended break from work? Does your partner want to care for the children on some days? Which of the two of you are happier in their career, and who earns more?
Relatives: Are there others besides you as the parents who would like to contribute to taking care of your children? Some grandparents jump at the opportunity to look after their grandchildren, while others don’t want any fixed obligations. Consider factors such as resilience and the health of the babysitter. Who will step in to care for the children when grandma is sick? What about vacation? If you rely exclusively on private care solutions, you should not underestimate the coordination effort involved.
Daycare: If it is clear that your child will attend daycare, then you should make the necessary arrangements immediately. Many daycare centers are full and have waiting lists. Before you decide on a certain facility, check whether your employer makes financial contributions to the cost of external daycare. Some companies have agreements with certain businesses and subsidize only those.
Other alternatives: As an alternative, a day family (Tagesfamilie) or nanny could be the perfect solution for you. If you have more than one child, it can be worthwhile to have a nanny care for the children in your home. This way, you won’t have the stress of bringing and picking up your children and you will probably enjoy greater flexibility. Unlike daycares, nannies also take care of children when they are ill. On the other hand, it can be complicated if the nanny is absent unexpectedly. Do you have a backup for short-notice bottlenecks?
This question raises a weary smile in many a tired mother. After all, this phrase simply doesn’t fit with the reality of parenting: Life is work and work is life, and there is no chance of cleanly separating one from the other. Children are the greatest source of both love and stress. At the same time. They are both pure quality of life and hard work. A better question would be:
They exist at least on Instagram – deeply relaxed, picture-perfect mothers, who juggle a thousand details for their baby and toddler in day-to-day life without breaking into a sweat. They also love their part-time job, go out to lunch with their colleagues, and are full of vigor on the weekend for shopping and excursions with the family. (Oh yeah, and of course not a hair is out of place either.) If you belong to this breed, please skip the following section. All other mothers, please read on and stay healthy!
Family income: Consider carefully how much money you will need in the future to make ends meet. If you don’t have a household budget, now is a good time to start. We have compiled a series of tips on how to keep a handle on costs as a family.
Child allowances: As soon as your baby is born, your employer, or that of your partner, will inform the compensation fund. As of that time, you will receive a child allowance with your monthly salary. It is at least CHF 200 per child and month (maybe more depending on the canton).
External childcare: Make sure that you do not pay extra if your children go to external childcare. This can easily happen if your child’s daycare spot is not subsidized and you have a job that pays a below-average salary.
Retirement provision – a dry subject, but one that you definitely should not neglect. As someone who takes on a lot of the care responsibility, you are automatically at a disadvantage when it comes to occupational benefits. In the case of part-time work, a pension gap arises in pillar 2 since the insured salary is much lower than with a full-time job. If you take an extended period of time off work because of having children, then no contributions will be made to your pension fund during that time. These contribution gaps lead to significantly lower pensions after retirement. An ideal supplement to occupational benefits insurance is private pension provision. By making voluntary payments into pillar 3a or 3b, you build up capital for retirement and save on taxes. If you invest in a 3a provision plan, your money will be invested profitably and you also have the option of hedging against risks.
You should also check whether your are protected against unforeseen circumstances: What would happen if you could not work for a longer period of time due to illness or an accident? Is the family income still secure? And what about childcare? Especially for families with a small budget, it could be a good idea to take out occupational disability insurance. And anyone who is responsible for children should also consider term life insurance.