The working mum vs stay-at-home mum debate is so old, we grimace every time a piece of ‘research’ tries to pit mums against each other.

The real issue is staying relevant in an ever-changing world, where not staying on top of your game can cost you to sacrifice salary or even your beloved career.

Here are some tips to help you protect your career, whether you choose to be a working or stay-at-home mum.

1. Stay up to date with your skills

Taking time out to raise a child can be the dream of many working mums. But many often go into it unaware that too big a gap in active employment can have a huge effect on their chances of progression later on.

One way to stay fresh is to stay on top of the technology, laws and processes in your industry. While you might not necessarily put this at the top of your priority list when you’re juggling a small child, it’s worth keeping your toe in the water by reading industry magazines, websites, blogs and following industry experts on social media – a little information can go a long way!

2. Keep your skills up to date

Competing against single colleagues who can spend hours in the office without batting an eye lid is one thing, but coming back from a few months’ maternity leave and being clueless about new, important software won’t gain any respect in the office.

It’s a good idea to put some time and money aside to undertake some training in your field. Sort courses aren’t as expensive or time-constraining, but they can go along way in refreshing your skills and making you more marketable – even if you’re just returning to work.

3. Speak up!

Maternity leave costs women money – period! But one reason why the gender pay gap even exists is because women don’t speak up when it comes to negotiating their salaries.

When you return to work, don’t let your employer make you feel as though they are doing you a favour by allowing you to return. So long as you’ve covered the first and second points above, they’ll be gaining something from having you on their team.

With that in mind, you must speak up and ask for more money if your skills have increased. If you don’t it will be steeper ladder to climb later on in your career. Plus, there’s not a lot that’s worse than knowing that a young upstart who you have trained is earning much more than you! Speak up!

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