Episode 38: Balancing a career with motherhood – with Janine Esbrand of Lightbox Coaching

Consultant lawyer and career coach Janine Esbrand answers your questions about how to prepare yourself before going on maternity leave, when to start thinking about your return to the workplace (and what you should be asking yourself) and how to manage the new competing demands.

Today’s guest

Janine Esbrand of Lightbox Coaching

Website: Lightbox Coaching

Facebook: Lightbox Coaching

LinkedIn: Janine Esbrand

Instagram: careersbeyondmotherhood

Twitter: @Lightboxcoaching

Contact: janine@lightboxcoaching.com

When Janine was eight years old, she wanted to make a difference in the world.

Being a lawyer looked like a great option. Janine studied hard, went to law school and trained as a corporate lawyer. Shortly before qualifying, she went on a mission trip to East Africa. It was an amazing, life-changing experience. She had the opportunity to educate innocent prisoners on their rights, train local villagers about child protection rights and review new legislation. Their mission was to support those who did not have access to justice.

When Janine returned to her corporate lawyer role, something was missing. She’d just been making a huge impact on the lives of others and now she was pouring over documents late into the evening on a million-pound deal. She knew then that She needed to be doing something to help people on a more personal level.

Following a journey of discovery, Janine found the world of coaching. She trained for her coaching certification alongside her legal career. She continued to work as a lawyer and worked with coaching clients in her spare time. When she was on maternity leave with her son, she realised that going back to those 16-hour days was not an option and struggled to figure out the best next step for her. She had changed and wanted to work in a way that worked for her family. She made a tough decision and broke free of law firm life.

There began Janine’s portfolio career, where she works as a consultant lawyer and a coach for ambitious women.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • The biggest challenge that new mothers face in their careers
  • Why, even if you want to go back to what you were doing, there is still going to be change and how you won’t feel then how you feel now
  • What to do before you go on maternity leave, including using the time to build your network and talking to people who have already been through the process
  • Why you should create “advocates” ready to back you when you return to work
  • When to start thinking about and planning your return to work, the questions to ask yourself and how to answer those questions
  • The importance of being honest about how you feel, even if you don’t feel that’s how you “should” feel
  • The difference between “work life integration” and “work life balance”, and how to prioritise
  • Why you should write everything down to get it out of your head
  • How to “have it all” and use the hidden job market to find your ideal role after starting a family
  • Deciding what childcare option is best for you, and why the financial aspect isn’t the only thing to think about
  • It’s possible to love the work that you do whilst raising a family

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.

Episode 38: Balancing a career with motherhood - with Janine Esbrand of Lightbox Coaching

Jeremy Cline 0:00
I'm Jeremy Cline and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:18
Welcome to the Change Work Life podcast, the show that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. I've really been looking forward to this episode for a while now. So many of my guests have mentioned the challenges of starting a family and how it affects their career that I really wanted just to get someone on the podcast to talk about this in more detail and I could not have found a better guest than Janine Esbrand of LightBox Coaching. Janine was originally a corporate lawyer, and she now combines being a consultant lawyer with coaching mothers, helping them plan their return to work after they've started a family. Regular listeners will know that I usually spend a little bit of time at the start of an interview talking through a guest's back story, but we just had so much to get through and also had some limited time for this interview that I just dive straight in. So if you want to find out a bit more about Janine's backstory, then go to the Show Notes page, they're on ChangeWorkLife.com/38. And Janine's also got some information about her origins on her own website as well. And there's a link to that in the show notes. Now, yes, I'm a parent, but I'm not a mother. So to make sure I covered all the important questions I asked friends and also on some of the discussion boards that I'm active on about what questions I should ask Janine - what people's challenges were, what their concerns were. And so a really big thank you to everyone who gave me the inspiration to what questions I should ask Janine. Without further ado, here's the interview with Janine Esbrand of LightBox Coaching. Hi, Janine, welcome to the Change Work Life podcast.

Janine Esbrand 1:46
Hi, Jeremy. Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here.

Jeremy Cline 1:50
Could you start by introducing yourself and telling everyone what you do?

Janine Esbrand 1:53
Yes, my name is Janine Esbrand and I am a career strategist and an executive coach, and I work mainly with women helping them to figure out how to navigate their careers post-motherhood.

Jeremy Cline 2:04
This is a topic which I've been really keen to dive into, because I know quite a lot of mothers and I know that there's an awful lot of challenges which they face. So perhaps you could start by telling us what's the biggest challenge or the number one challenge, or the most common challenge that you see with the mothers that you work with?

Janine Esbrand 2:21
Yes. The biggest challenge, the one that comes up a lot, is where people feel stuck. They feel like they're not sure what they should do next with their career. So for many of them, they've worked really hard to get to this stage, they have spent a lot of time studying, they've spent a lot of time working to this point in their career - then they start a family and they're not quite sure how this new way of life fits in with the old life and whether or not they still want to stay on that path. And if they don't stay on that path, what do they do instead? So people tend to be in a place of limbo, they don't really know how to move forward. So I kind of help them work through what life could look like for them going forward and what they actually want to do with their career.

Jeremy Cline 2:58
So going into that, I guess there's the people who might want to impossibly think they can go back to doing exactly what they were doing before, doing it the way they were doing it before. And then there will be people at the other end of the spectrum who have started a family and work's just not interesting anymore. How would you draw out where people are in the spectrum before you help them work out what to do next?

Janine Esbrand 3:20
I think helping them to work through that. And for some people, they know, okay, I do want to stay doing what I was doing before - but I need to figure out how I can make that work. Some people know that, and then some people feel like 'I'm not quite sure, what I was doing before doesn't really fulfil me anymore, but I'm not quite sure whether it is the work that I was doing or the workplace or what has changed'. So if it's the latter, then it takes some coaching and helping them to think through what actually has shifted for them and whether it does make sense for them to move in another direction. But for those who say I want to go back to doing what I was doing before, there's still going to be an element of change because you can't work in the same way as you're working before you were a parent. You have a whole little person who takes priority in so many ways. So there has to be a shift, regardless of where you sit on the spectrum - it's just working out how big that shift is.

Jeremy Cline 4:10
So let's go back to the start of the process. So when someone finds out that they're pregnant, and there's a number of things that they need to do at that point - so they need to tell work, they presumably need to start planning their maternity leave, maybe thinking about how long they're going to have off. Is there anything which people can start thinking about or even start planning even at that early stage?

Janine Esbrand 4:32
Yeah, I think one of the things to bear in mind is that how you feel now is not necessarily going to be how you feel later. So in my personal experience, when I went off on maternity leave with my son, I was working as a corporate lawyer, and I had in my mind that I would go have my baby, get a nanny, and return full time and continue towards the partnership track. And then I met him and everything changed. So as much as you can think, Okay, this is how it's gonna feel, just give yourself that element of flexibility to say, Okay, I can put some plans in place, but I am acknowledging that I might feel differently afterwards. So I'd say that first and foremost. But there are some things you can start to put in place. So if you are thinking, Okay, I will want to come back - start thinking about Have I made a strong network here? Do I know people inside my department, outside of my department, because when I come back, I am going to be going through a transition period, so it would be good to know that I have built up a network that could support me when I come back. So you could think about that. Can you be more intentional about getting to know some of your colleagues and maybe going out to lunch with people because when you come back, that's going to be really useful. Also just familiarising yourself with the policies, understanding what happens in your particular workplace and speaking to other people who have been through it, other people who have been on maternity - asking them are there any things that I should be aware of, things that are relevant to this organisation, things that you found challenging or things that you overcame? So I would say just be mindful of what you might need and see if you can find the resources and line them up now is a good thing to do.

Jeremy Cline 5:58
That last one about talking to people who've already been through the process sounds unbelievably obvious but I wonder how many people actually do it, because I am guessing that if say I was a mother who had been through this process and someone who turned out they were pregnant and planning their maternity leave came up to me, I would probably be absolutely delighted to talk to them about everything. But is that something that people are a bit reticent about asking about?

Janine Esbrand 6:21
Yeah, I think not everybody does ask. Especially if, say the person who has been on maternity leave isn't someone in your friendship circle or someone that you normally speak to, you might not feel like, Oh, I'm just gonna go up and ask this person. You're kind of in your zone, you're going through your experience yourself, so you're just thinking, I'll just go with the flow and see what happens. But recognising that yeah, that person will be willing to open up and share with you and the knowledge that they can share with you could save you a lot of time and stress, trying to figure it out. So I think it doesn't always come naturally to people. But I think it's a good thing to get into the habit where you think actually who could I ask, who can help. Asking a question is easy to do, and you often get great answers - but people are often reluctant to ask for help.

Jeremy Cline 7:01
The other thing you mentioned is about sort of building your own network within work. And I suppose some people do it naturally, but a lot of people won't do it. They won't sort of go out for lunch with colleagues and go out for coffees and all that sort of thing. But it's probably quite a mindset shift and a phrase that comes to mind - it's a chap called Jordan Harbinger who who talks a lot about network, he talks about digging the well before you're thirsty. And I think that's kind of what you're talking about, isn't it? So putting down the foundations for when you come back?

Janine Esbrand 7:31
Yeah. Because here's the thing - if you think about it, in terms of people like people, right? And people like to work with people that they like. So if your colleagues don't really know you, when you come back to work, and you say, Oh, I want to work flexibly, if nobody in the department knows you, knows really what your impact is, know how much of a big contribution you made to the team, it's going to be harder for them say yes, let's bend over backwards to make sure that she comes back and let's help her to come back on a flexible basis because they don't really know you. Whereas if people know of you, know how good you are, or have made friends with you, you're going to have more advocates when you're asking for that flexibility - assuming that you are - where someone's gonna be, No, we can't lose her, she's fantastic. But if you haven't built that network who's going to be vouching? You're in a position where you're going to be doing it for yourself, as opposed to having advocates who are doing it with you.

Jeremy Cline 8:19
One of the questions that came up was about someone who was told when they were pregnant that they couldn't have a raise, and they were gonna have to wait until they came back from maternity leave. Now, I'm almost certain - and you'll know better than I - that in the UK, that would be illegal. I think this comment probably comes from the US. Just because it's illegal doesn't necessarily mean I suppose that it doesn't happen. I mean, is that something that maybe it's not couched in quite so brazen terms? But is it a legitimate concern that women who find out they're pregnant do have, that during that process, it is going to affect their future advancement even before they come back from maternity leave?

Janine Esbrand 8:54
Yeah, I think unfortunately, I think it does happen a lot in different organisations. And there are some organisations that are very forward-thinking and can see the value that somebody brings to an organisation whether or not they take six months or a year out to go on maternity leave. But there are some organisations that do have kind of those views as to whether or not someone should have a promotion, even if they're on maternity. So I can see where the concerns of people come in. And there's organisations that have popped up to support - I can think of one called Pregnant Then Screwed, and it's led by lady who advocates for equality for women who are starting families. So yeah, because we have organisations like that we know that there are issues in the workplace, but I don't think that should mean people say, Well, I'm not going to have a child then. I think there's ways for you to navigate things. And like I mentioned, if you are intentional about the process, and you're saying I do want to start a family soon, then think about how you can really be building yourself up before you get to that point. So are you establishing your personal brand inside and outside of your organisation? Are you making sure that you are someone who is recognised for the work that you're doing, so that it's not just saying, okay, I want to go for a promotion, but nobody really knows what your work is about and you're not someone who's been talking about it. Are you sharing the value that you're bringing, so that it's easier for them to say yes.

Jeremy Cline 10:13
And let's face it, even if you don't start a family, this is all stuff which is worth doing anyway.

Janine Esbrand 10:17
Yeah, absolutely. There's a book called Baby Proof Your Career. And she talks about that. So even before you get to the stage where you're starting a family, there's things that you can be doing to be building yourself up. It's written by Caroline Flanagan, she's a fellow coach, and it's a really good book because she gives some real practical tips and advice to help you to start thinking in that way before the time comes.

Jeremy Cline 10:42
So you are on maternity leave. You have a new baby, you have sleepless nights, you have horrible amounts of stress. You just didn't know was going to be like this. At what stage do you start to think about what you're going to do next? Is there an ideal time when you start to think I need to work out what I'm going to do? Because you said earlier that how you feel before you go on maternity leave and before you have a child is not going to be the same as how you feel once you've been through that process. So I guess my question is, when's a good time to start thinking about what you want to do next? And how would you do it as well, given that you're probably completely brain dead at that point?

Janine Esbrand 11:25
Yeah. Okay. So it's difficult because it depends on where in the world you are, how I answer this question, because if you're in the States, obviously, some people get six to eight weeks maternity leave. If you're in the UK, or Australia, Canada, you're going to get a lot longer. So I would say for those who have a longer maternity period, I would try and avoid thinking about it in the first few months, because the first few months, everything's crazy! Life has changed dramatically, and you're adjusting to everything in terms of having a child - there's emotions that are raging, and so making any hard firm decisions at that point can be difficult to even make decisions and then also later on you might think actually, I've changed how I'm thinking because life has shifted a bit. So after you get past the newborn stage, if you've got, say, six months to a year paternity, I would say towards the end of that period, once you've kind of got settled into motherhood, and you've done that part, then your brain might be freed up a bit more to then say, Okay, let me start thinking about work. If you are in the States or somewhere where you have a short maternity, I would say, leave it to as close to the end of the period as you can. Because the idea is you are going through such a massive change in your life, the biggest transition ever going to go through is becoming your mother. You want to adjust to that and having your baby and getting used to your routine before you then add on the stress of what am I going to do with work? So I would say take some time to just be with your baby first before you then start stressing about what am I going to do with work. But when that time does come, I think it is thinking about what do I want life to look like? So for some people, they say I want to be around for my baby. I want to see them every day. I want to spend a few days a week with them. For other people, they say, I actually enjoy working, so I want to spend time with my children but I do want to go to work every day. So it's what do you want life to look like holistically and then you can start working backwards from there. If you're saying I actually want to spend time with my children while they're young, I want to be there a few days of the week, then you might be looking at a part-time role or adjusting a role. If you're saying I want to go back to work full-time, then it looks differently. So I think that's a really good starting point, like what do I want life to look like and then work backwards from there because work and life fit together. I always talk about work life integration, as opposed to work life balance. So the two go hand in hand, starting to think about holistically how I want things to look is a good starting place.

Jeremy Cline 13:42
Have you come across any sort of structured approaches that you can take to us answering this question, what do I want life to look like? It's a great place to start, but something I've come across is called the airport test where you see someone at an airport in five years time that you hadn't seen before for ages, and they say 'How's life?' 'Oh, it's great.' And the thought experiment is you take four segments of your life, which are important to you. And then you write down what each of those looks like. So you write down what family life looks like, work life looks like, write down what your health life looks like, if you know that's one of your top four important things. So do you have approaches that you use with your clients to help them answer this question, 'What do I want life to look like?'

Janine Esbrand 14:24
Yeah, so there's a few approaches. One is there's a coaching tool called the Wheel of Life, and it basically is a wheel and it categorises life in different areas. So it takes different aspects of your life - family, health, how you feel in up to eight categories, and then there's a scale of one to 10. So you can get that wheel and then you can rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 - where do I feel like I am now, and then ask yourself what would make it a 10. So if I'm here now in terms of my relationship with my spouse, or I'm here now in terms of my family life, I'm at a three or I'm at a four, what would make a 10? So when you get people to think what would make it a 10, that helps them to see what is the ideal for me. And sometimes that surprises people, 'I thought I was a lot higher up' or 'I didn't realise that was so low down'. So that one's quite useful to put things in perspective because you see everything in front of you - and putting the numbers down, that can really help. Do you ever have to coach people into being honest with themselves? Because I can see that some people might think, Oh, yes, I really do want to spend more time with my child when in fact, of course, they love their child and want to spend time with them. But they do really deep down generally want to go back to working full time five days a week, but feel guilty about saying that.

Janine Esbrand 15:36
Yeah, that happens sometimes. And it often comes out in the coaching conversation where I'll ask people questions, and then they'll say something and they'll say, 'Oh, that's really bad, isn't it? I shouldn't be saying that, should I?' You should, because that's what you're thinking but normally you wouldn't say it. So now that you've said it, why do you feel that way? And then we explore why they feel that way and then help them to recognise that there is no 'should' in it - you feel how you feel. So then you just have to analyse why that feeling is and what you're going to do about it. Often the guilt comes from people feeling they should act a certain way because of societal norms or how they've grown up, how they saw their parents grow up. If someone's grown up and their mum was always around to pick them up from school and to be there all the time, then sometimes they then say, well, that's a good mum. That's the definition of a good mum, a mum who's always around. So then when they say they want to go back to work that makes them feel like a bad mum. So helping them to see well, where does that come from? When they're aware of that, then they can say actually, yeah, it's okay. It could be different. It doesn't have to be the same. I could still be a good mum and not be there every single day. I can just make sure that the time that I spend includes quality time and that's okay. So yeah, there is a lot of conversation that happens around that to get people to the place where they feel comfortable just owning what it is they really feel, and what they really want.

Jeremy Cline 16:51
If I look at the comments and feedback I've had from people - I asked a number of people for struggles they have before this interview, so that I had plenty of ammo for you. The overarching theme which comes through virtually all of the comments I've received is you can use the word balancing or you can use the word juggling or you can use the word competing - you talked about work-life integration. So you're balancing, juggling, competing with your love of your job and being committed to your job versus wanting to spend time with your family and your new family, competing pressures on time, competing emotions, where do you start to unpack and manage all that because I can see it just starts to become a maelstrom in your head and I can see it becoming quite unmanageable when you think about all these things going round, round and round in your brain.

Janine Esbrand 17:42
Yeah, two things. First is acceptance. And the second is get out of your head - as in write it all down, do a brain dump. Because firstly, the reason why I say work life integration as opposed to balance is because balance puts so much pressure on people. People are like I need to find the work life balance, so when I drop the ball and I forget to go to one of my child's appointments or I'm late to a meeting, I'm terrible -Why can't I do this? I should be able to do this. The reality is, at any given time, you're not able to balance both things. Basically, you have two areas of your life where you're trying to dedicate as much time, energy and resource as possible. But you have to realise that at any given time one is going to be prioritised. So there are going to be times where work is going to be prioritised. And there are going to be times where home life is going to be prioritised. So instead of looking on a day to day basis and saying, okay, am I juggling well? take a step back and say, okay, over the course of this week, or over the course of this month, have I managed to prioritise each enough? Have I managed to spend enough evenings with my children? Have I managed to meet enough deadlines at work? And if you step back and you say to yourself over the course of a week, a month, a quarter, actually, I've done quite well. I have managed to do a lot in all of those areas, as opposed to each day trying to say 'I need to do all of the things and get everything done on my to do list', you're going to take a lot of pressure off yourself and be far more productive. So once you do that it's about you say, Okay, let me prioritise and say what needs to be a priority right now. If it's your child's birthday, then this week, I'm going to prioritise family time and I'm not going to stay late to that meeting. But if you've got a massive deal or project that you're working on, then this week, I'm going to be prioritising work. So I think when you look at it like that, it really helps. And yes, we have a lot of things going around in our head. I often refer to as the mental load where you're just trying to think about everything, and figure out everything - just write it all down. Whether it is you have a journal that you just write everything down that you need to do, whether you do it in a planner, or an electronic calendar, get everything out of your head. It always feels less daunting and overwhelming when it's out of your head.

Jeremy Cline 19:46
Is it possible to I'm going to use the expression 'have it all,' which is going to be misguided because of course 'have it all' is going to mean different things to different people. But to give you an example, someone wrote to me and said work now could be something local to home and flexible hours. I want to be there for drop-offs, pick-ups, weekends, assemblies and the unfortunate days when they're poorly. I don't want to use childcare. I want to be there for my children hundred percent. Any tips for finding jobs with such flexibility? They seem to be rare.

Janine Esbrand 20:14
Yeah, I say when people say, can you have it all, I think you can have it all. But you can't always have everything at the same time. In terms of work, if you are someone who is saying 'I want to stay in the workplace, and I want to climb the ladder,' if you want to do that you might not be able to have the flexibility that you want right now. But you might say, Okay, I'm going to go for a more flexible role, take my foot off the gas a bit while my children are young, and then when they're older, I'll have capacity to continue on my career on the trajectory I was on before. So you might still be moving towards your career goal, but not as quickly as you would have if you didn't have children. But in terms of the person who raised the question there, that is a lot of flexibility that they're asking for - and if you're just going to go out to the job market and look on job boards and look for flexible part-time roles, you're not going to find that, but that doesn't mean you can't get it. So I talk to people a lot about the hidden job market, and the fact that only 20% of jobs are advertised. So there's 80% of vacancies out there that are not advertised and are generally filled through the hidden job market, which comes through network, referrals, being headhunted. So sometimes you can find a role through your network and you might be able to negotiate flexibility, or you might say, you know what, I'm going to take the skills, knowledge and expertise that I already have, and I'm going to start freelancing, or I'm going to start my own small business so that I have the flexibility to work around my children. So I think sometimes people are just thinking on the one track -I need to be employed - but sometimes self-employment can provide you with that flexibility that you want. It's not necessarily an easier option, but it can allow you that flexibility. So there are ways to get to where it is you want to get to.

Jeremy Cline 21:50
Let's take the first example you gave - the person who perhaps wants the flexibility for the first few years but then wants to get back back into the career ladder and the level that they wanted to get up to before. I can see that one of the objections and fears that someone's going to have if they do take their foot off the gas and work more flexibly and do spend a bit more time with their families - that is going to irreparably harm future prospects of promotion. So you know, taking your career as an example, your former career as an example, you know, a corporate lawyer goes off on maternity leave comes back, they work part time, a lot of people come back and go into, you know, knowledge base, know-how lawyers that sort of thing. There's going to be a fear that when the kids are older and we could be talking 10 years time or something that going back up to a higher level, going into partnership, equity partnership, that that's just not going to be possible. How do you coach people round that sort of fear and concern?

Janine Esbrand 22:54
By firstly showing them that is possible. So a great example - I am one of the coaches on a programme called the Reignite Academy, and this programme was basically set up for this very reason. So they support lawyers who have been out of work for between 2 and 15 years. So these are people who trade to the city are trained as lawyers in top law firms. Then took a break, maybe to have a family, and then want to go back into private practice. And this programme has been running for the last two years and has been massively successful. So they've had women who have gone back via the programme into law firms. And when they first go back, they are feeling like 'Can I do this? Is this possible? I've had such a long break'. But it's amazing to see over the course of the six month programme that they're on, how their confidence just soars. And by the end of the six months, how many of them are taken on, kept on with the firm. They say, 'It just came back, even though I've been up for all that time, it just came back.' And all of the skills, knowledge and experience that they gained in that break, whether they were staying at home with their children, or whether they did some other things in that time like some of them may have started a business or they have gone in-house, done other work, that knowledge has been so so valuable when they've gone back. So the firms that they'd be working for have recognised that knowledge that they have has been more valuable than someone who has just stayed in private practice all of that time. So what I will say is, don't discount the fact that the experience that you have gained is valuable in the workplace. You just have to know how to package it and share it with people so that it is seen as valuable and so that you can demonstrate that you have a lot to bring to the organisation. If you're 10 years older, or if you're five years older, that's a wealth of commercial experience that you have to bring to any organisation.

Jeremy Cline 24:41
Okay, I want to press you on that one a little bit. So say you've got someone who takes 10 years out, basically 10 years out of the out of the workforce to look after their kids. So they're in a position where they don't need to work. And initially they might be doing all the childcare and when the kids go to school, I mean, it's a short day, you can easily fill the whatever it is - five hours, six hours that you've got between dropping the kids off to school and picking them back up again. Is it really possible, especially - I I'm thinking about law because you're a former lawyer, I'm a lawyer - where law moves on, laws change and all that sort of thing? Is it really possible if you've had a 10 year career break to go from picking up your career again, in something like law?

Janine Esbrand 25:22
Yes, this is how exciting it is for me, as someone who's seen it happen. I think that for many people, if you are a professional, the likelihood of you being off for 10 years and not getting involved in something is slim. While the kids are young, yes, you might be just coming home and just pottering around before you go and pick them up from school, but you will have got involved in something - whether that's volunteer, whether that's you doing your own little business on the side or doing some freelance work, the likelihood is you will have got involved in something and so all of that exposure is going to be valuable. And yes, the law does move on, but ultimately you will have skills and experience that you gained before you went on your break. So it's about you applying those skills that you learned before in terms of legal research and getting up to speed with how things have changed, and then you getting back in there and you getting back in front of clients and doing the work again and you relearn what you learned before. And before long, you're able to get back into what you were doing. You might not be at the same level, you're not going to go back in 10 years later and say, Okay, now I'm at partnership level. You're going to go back in at a more junior level, but you are going to be in a position to grow and move forward a lot quicker. So I guess there's two things there: one is planning, two is patience.

Janine Esbrand 26:32
Yes. It's so possible, so exciting.

Jeremy Cline 26:35
I think it's great that you're saying that there are organisations out there which help you do exactly this, because I certainly didn't know about them. And I think that's absolutely wonderful.

Janine Esbrand 26:42
Yeah, so the programme that I was mentioning, they have partnered with top law firms in the city. So the programme is run, they offer people that are going back coaching, mentoring and support so that they can get back in get adjusted, and then the law firms benefit because they get some really great talented people back in teh law.

Jeremy Cline 27:00
I'd like to just shift topics a little bit, because one of the points that comes out quite often is the whole issue of child care. Should I be looking after my kids myself and using a nanny, nurseries, the associated costs? Is it actually cost-effective to pay for childcare when it is quite expensive? Is that something that you discuss with your clients? And how do you help clients work out what the best option is for them?

Janine Esbrand 27:26
Yeah, I think one of the things that often comes up with that is people say, you know, once I've calculated how much the childcare is going to be - it doesn't make sense for me to go back to work, I've got hardly any money left over. And I say yes, but you have to think about the long term game with that because whilst right now it might feel like it doesn't make sense, when your children are older and they're at school, if you want to be working again, if you haven't kept your finger in and you haven't done something it is going to be harder. If you can, even if it doesn't feel like it makes sense financially, if you want to then it does make sense to work. In terms of choosing what type of childcare, I think you have to think about what's important to you. So do you want your child to just have one caregiver and be connected to one person? So have a nanny or a child minder? Or do you like the idea of them interacting with other children, I think the best way is to go and be in an environment and see what it's like. If you get that feeling, you go, you see the children, you get a feeling as to whether or not this is the place you want your children to be or not. So you just have to start going out there and looking at the options and seeing where you actually feel comfortable. And that parents intuition is going to kick in and you're going to be like, yeah, I can see my child here. And I feel comfortable.

Jeremy Cline 28:36
Janine, I'm sure that we have only scratched the surface. And there's an awful lot more stuff that we could talk about but unfortunately, I am conscious of time pressures. So let me steal a question from Tim Ferriss, which is to say if you could put a message on a billboard, let's say it's a message for a mother who is six to nine months into maternity leave, and they're starting to think about all this. What message would you put on that billboard?

Janine Esbrand 29:00
I would say it is possible to love the work that you do whilst raising your family.

Jeremy Cline 29:06
It's possible to love the work that you do whilst raising a family.

Janine Esbrand 29:09

Jeremy Cline 29:09
That's brilliant. I think that's something that that people can latch on to, and start from there. You've mentioned a couple of resources - Pregnant Then Screwed and Baby Proof Your Career - do you have any other resources, which you'd particularly like to mention, which have helped you or you find help your clients?

Janine Esbrand 29:23
Yeah, I love this book called The Fifth Trimester. And it's by Lauren Smith Brody. And it's very much a practical - she calls it the working mum's guide to style, sanity, and big success after baby. So she talks about the period after you go back to work and how you adjust and how you approach things. It's really, really good. It's a good practical read, and gets you thinking about all the things that go into working motherhood. So I'd definitely recommend that. Yeah, that's good one.

Jeremy Cline 29:51
So it's the Fifth Trimester, Lauren Smith Brody. Fantastic. I'll link to that in the Show Notes. And where can people go and find you, and I know that you've got a podcast yourself all about these sorts of issues. So where can people find you?

Janine Esbrand 30:04
Yeah, so you can find me at my website, www.lightboxcoaching.com, and my podcast is called Careers Beyond Motherhood. So on that show, I talk all about things related to careers and advancement beyond motherhood, so you can check it out on iTunes and all the other platforms.

Jeremy Cline 30:20
There will be links in the show notes. Janine, amazing advice. Thank you so much. Thank you for taking the time.

Janine Esbrand 30:26
Thank you so much for having me. It's been awesome.

Jeremy Cline 30:29
Wow, what an interview and what a positive person! I mean, Janine is both really enthusiastic, but also quite calming. And you can really see how you'd go to her with a head completely full of worries, and she'll start to help you unpack everything and come up with a plan. I absolutely loved this interview, and I really could have talked to her for at least same amount of time again, she had so many amazing tips and one of the ones that stood out for me - and it comes up time and time again - it's the value of networking and in her case, she was describing how you use your time before going on maternity leave to make sure that when you return you've got advocates who will support you, who will have your back, who will say to whoever's got the decisions about whether you come back and the terms on which you come back and all that sort of thing, the people who will say, yeah, we need this person, we've got to have this person back, we've got to accommodate them if you want to work flexibly. Someone who can say yeah, we've got to accommodate this, they're a really valuable member of the team. I'm really pleased to be able to tell you that we've got an episode dedicated to networking coming up in the next few weeks, it comes up so often that I had to speak to someone solely on that subject. So stick around in a few weeks time, then you'll see that episode coming out. Ahow notes for this episode are on the website at changeworklife.com/38. You'll find a link to Janine's website and all her contact details and also to those great resources which she mentioned during the interview. And once you're on the Change Work Life website, click on the 'Find career happiness' tab which you'll see at the top of the webpage and you'll find there a form which if you fill it out - you just need to put in your name and your email address - then I'll send you a document with a couple of exercises which will really help you work out what sort of a career change you might want, if you're at the stage where you're thinking that you do want a career change, but you're just not sure what to change to. One of the things that Janine mentioned in the interview is the importance of working out what it is you want life to look like. And one of the exercises I've included in the document which I'll send you is how to do that. So even if you're not looking to change career, but you do need some help picturing what your ideal life looks like, maybe having started a family, then this exercise will really help you. So do fill out your details on that and it'll be straight on it's way to you. There's another great interview coming out next week, so hit subscribe so you make sure you don't miss it, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.

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