Image source: Lakeme Fashion Week
Recent amendments may have increased the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks in India, but going back to work is something all women struggle with after baby. Guilt, uncertainty, doubt, misgivings and more – a new mother’s lot isn’t easy. Which may explain why almost 25-30% of women across metro cities in India quit their jobs to raise their first child, according to an Assocham study.
But Kareena Kapoor Khan defied this stereotype. Up and about almost till she went into labour, the actress was doing photo shoots and launching products. Two months after she gave birth to Taimur Ali Khan in December 2016, she made a stylish comeback, as showstopper for the Lakme Fashion Week finale. Much like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her much-discussed book Lean In, she’s among the women to “have it all”.
Here’s what this Bollywood actor can teach you about going back to work after a baby:
Don’t listen to all the advice that’s thrown at you
Whether you’re pregnant or a new mom, it seems to give everyone the licence to preach. Like Bebo, learn to turn a deaf ear to unwanted advice. “What annoys me is when people take the liberty to throw advice at you, tell you how life is going to change, and deliver spiels on what’s morally right and wrong,” said the actress.
Takeaway: What works for one new mom may not necessarily work for another so cut your own path. Your goal should be to find a healthy balance that works for you, your family and your career.
Embrace the new you
A baby brings along kilos and inches on your body, but it’s up to you to be make peace with your appearance. Kareena put on 18 kg during her pregnancy, and in her words, “I flaunted it, double chin and all, until the day I walked into the hospital”. Two months after she delivered, Kareena was back on the ramp as the showstopper for the Lakme Fashion Week finale and the cameras loved her. “I said this through pregnancy that it is not an illness so, I walked the ramp then and I will keep doing that because I love it. It is okay if I am not size zero but as long as I am looking great and I think I am,” she said.
Takeaway: You may not be in the best shape of your life, but that’s no reason to let your confidence levels plummet. Remind yourself that this is a beautiful phase of your life and continue focusing on work.
Make an effort to be visible
New moms find themselves itching to get home and take their baby in their arms, but it’s also extremely important to stay connected with what’s happening – at the office, in your industry and with your colleagues. “The more you can do to stay connected, the easier it will be when you come back,” writes lawyer Carrie Mandel, author of Breaking Through. Kareena shows the way – she stayed in the limelight through the nine months and after by walking the ramp, appearing on magazine covers and shooting for endorsements.
Takeaway: It may not be on top of your priority list, but it’s critical to make an effort to remain visible. Office parties, networking events or industry seminars, make time for them.
Work on your multitasking skills
If you haven’t aced the multitasking game till now, it’s high time you got a move on. In India, people believe a woman should take things easy after giving birth – especially on the career front. But there’s no reason not to challenge that mindset. “In the West, it is common for women to work until the last week of delivery. Having a baby is a natural progression in every woman’s life,” Kareena has said.
Takeaway: Make working hours all about work. Eliminate distractions, work on related tasks and put your commute/lunch hour to good use. A to-do list is a must to ensure you don’t miss any deadline.
Go for the best baby caregiver you can get
You may not feel your absolute best as you leave your baby behind, but working on it will help. To stop worrying about the baby all day, have someone you trust to be the caregiver when you are not around. It could be mother, mother-in-law or a nanny, but make sure you get into the habit of handing things over temporarily. Kareena has been spotted out and about with friends and family, and without baby Taimur. But she makes sure that daddy Saif is with the little one during that time.
Takeaway: A couple of practice runs may help before you actually head back to work. Try and arrange for your childcare to start a week or 10 days before you join work so you can try out your routine and fine-tune it.
Kareena Kapoor Khan has been a style icon for long. But now, as she enters a new phase in her life, she seems to be setting an example for expectant mothers and newbie moms at the workplace. “The fact that I am continuing to work should hopefully inspire a lot of girls that they can balance marriage, motherhood and work,” Kareena believes.
Inspired by Kareena to find your way back to the workplace? Look for jobs here.