Mothers Work by Jessica Chivers Review

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Reviewed by Stacey Struthers

“While the ‘perfect’ celebrities in glossy magazines may make juggling family life with a career look effortless, the reality is that reaching equilibrium without going insane requires support and some excellent advice! Filled with the voices of over 100 real women, Mothers Work! is a practical and positive read aimed at women transitioning from full-time mother to mother and worker”.

My first child is 7 months old and I am just preparing physically (and mentally!) to return to work. It is quite a daunting prospect, I know very little about childcare options, whether my company had to be flexible or what my legal rights (if any) were. I was unsure where I would find the energy to work full time, then come home to look after a baby. Of utmost concern was separation anxiety… mine not the baby’s!

Mothers Work! How to get a grip on guilt and make a smooth return to work, appeared to be exactly what I needed.

I would recommend this book to anyone currently pregnant, on maternity leave or preparing to return to the workplace having had children. It gives a balanced approach to being a working mum, which it recognises can be a difficult and heart-wrenching decision.

The book is packed with good advice and points to consider, and there are exercises at the end of each chapter to help you apply the information to your unique situation.

It is divided into 8 “Mantras” instead of chapters: 1.Know your ideal work scenario, 2. Keep in touch and ask for what you want, 3. See your family as a team, 4. Find childcare that fits your family, 5. Get a grip on guilt, 6. Go for ‘good enough’ at home, 7. Prepare for a smooth return and 8. Do what it takes to thrive.

Each chapter of the book contains key ideas and action points, with useful sections on negotiating with employers, questions to ask your potential childcarer/nanny, home organisation, how to address the inevitable feelings of guilt and how to be `good enough’ rather than attempting to be all things to everyone.

The author has a background in psychology and a career coaching women and this comes through in the book.The book is motivational and written in an encouraging, friendly manner. Including the voices of real women adds to the feeling that you are not alone whatever your predicament and that you can achieve a smooth transition back to work.

I wasn’t keen on the layout of the book. This book is 267 pages long (65,000 words). As a busy new mum I knew I would struggle to read it cover to cover. There is so much packed into this book and some key lists / checklists start half way down a page! I sometimes found it quite hard to find the paragraphs relevant to me and the book is hard to use as a reference book. The author states in the introduction that her publisher cut to a third what she intended to include, which I think is a good thing – as I am sure most people would struggle to find the time to read such a volume!

Overall, I would recommend this book.

Rating: 4/5

Available to buy from Amazon here.

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