THE BLOG

Is Divorce a Career Killer for Mums?

03/02/2015 11:37 GMT | Updated 04/04/2015 10:59 BST

Well, you've heard it said once and many times over - divorce is like a death.

So many losses are involved including the future you had once dreamed off. You life's direction takes a turn that you didn't plan for and you really don't know what lies ahead.

You get to see that there are indeed life events that are capable of knocking you sideways and propelling you into a land that you never had any intention of visiting let alone residing in.

Yet here you are. In the land of inner pain, anger, resentment with a touch of relief and anticipation for what the future holds. A place where concentration, sleep disturbance and appetite attacks are all names of avenues, street and roads.

Welcome to the land of "The Divorced Working Mum."

20 years on and I still recall how one of my daughter's nursery teachers came to school one Monday morning looking tired, worn out and red-eyed.

Her "new" appearance was easily noticeable to us parents because Mrs Blake-Harrington, let's call her that, was always very presentably dressed with an air of collectedness and coolness about her.

It turned out, her husband had just left her and the children (both under 9) that weekend. She was not the I-am-in-control teacher whom we used to see. That one had left.

Mrs Blake-Harrington, stayed on for another couple of weeks but eventually had to leave and take a much needed break. She went to see her parents who lived outside London...never to return.

So what happens when you find yourself divorced and the main carer of your children? How does that affect your career or work prospects?

My own divorce experiences steered me to working in a totally different way than I had anticipated albeit in the same profession - child therapy.

I had two children and no family around to help. I had to drop out of courses during divorce number one and had to quit one full-time job during divorce number two and opt for a part-time position that was paying me not only a fraction of my previous salary but that was also mind-numbingly dull.

In the meantime, my ex-husbands, had the support and help from their work places. They could work long hours if they wanted to because they didn't have to get home in time to pick up their children from school and look after them and this reflected back on the successes they achieved post-divorce.

However, and I hope they don't mind me saying this, these successes were short lived as after a while, they both were burned out having not taken time off to deal with such huge life events. Today they are both working in different fields.

I recently read this quote in Oprah Magazine, an article by Martha Beck:

"If you've had a run of horrible luck, you can tell yourself you're being tortured or punished. Or you can decide you're being steered."

So did my two divorces kill my career?

That's the story I held for a long time. That's the belief that I carried with me for a long while until one day, I realised that, the divorces shifted me to where I am today, doing what I love.

Remember that mind-numbingly dull job I ended up in? Well if it wasn't for that job and it's dreariness, I wouldn't have taken the huge risk of resigning and working for myself. I had to do something. I just couldn't stay there.

I am now working with children and families affected by divorce, trauma and loss and I am pursing my other love and passion, which is writing and editing entirely on the topic of divorce and separation.

I work for myself. I control my days and hours. That is what has worked for my children and I.

So is divorce a career killer? Will it be yours? It certainly was mine for a while there, but not anymore.

During divorce, there are many parts of your inner world and being that no longer function as you knew them. You day to day life is affected by your emotions which are affected by your thoughts which then play a role in determining your actions.

The one piece of advice I could give anyone going through divorce to do is to take time off. Do ask for help, take it and accept it when it is offered. Ok, that's more than one but they hey.

Only when you take care of yourself will you be able to see things clearly and make better decisions and judgments as to which way to go next. This is no time to be a warrior woman.

Grieve if you need to but don't stay there forever.

Divorce encourages you to reassess your current situation to find and discover very creative ways to get time with your children, earn some money and look after yourself.

It's not easy. We love spending time with our little ones but bills need to be paid.

But here you are. The change has come. You are being steered. Which way will you go? What will you do? What can you do? Know your options and take it from there.

Soila

www.helpingchildrencope.co.uk