Building your confidence post a Parental Break

career development confidence building d&i strategies return to work working parents Jul 04, 2017

In our work at Thrive, we see how common it is for a parent to lose some of their confidence post a parental leave, so first thing to know is that if you feel like you have lost some of that confidence and assurance, it is normal!

The dictionary defines self-confidence as “a feeling of trust in one's abilities, qualities, and judgement.” Words associated with self-confidence are self-assurance, belief in oneself, positiveness, assertiveness, assurance, self-reliance, self-possession, composure, nerve, poise, presence, aplomb. In short, it is also a feeling of being comfortable in your own skin.

How confident do you feel today?

On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being extremely confident and 0 being no confidence at all, how would you rate yourself? Consider how often you speak out in meetings, take the initiative and lead on a new idea, challenge others’ ideas, offer new perspectives, trust yourself to make mistakes and step out of your comfort zone. Typically, these are behaviours that are associated with confidence.

If you know that you do not possess that assuredness of old or have the courage to ask and share, it’s time to focus on your own personal development; so that you can thrive again - this will positively influence work and home life!

First step is to remind yourself of your skills and expertise.

What you do well? What are your key strengths, skills and competencies?

Not sure? Then ask others around you, family, friends, those who have worked with you before. Check with yourself - are these natural competences you have that you love using or do you happen to do them well but not necessarily enjoy them?

You will start to recall just how much experience you do have. Be mindful that becoming a parent has also increased your range of skills! Think organisational skills, planning skills, prioritising, stamina, negotiating skills if your children are slightly older…. the list goes on.

Next step is to reflect on your Goals & Aspirations

Often this changes over time. It may be that you have just returned with your 1st child being months old and the only goal you can think of is getting more sleep and juggling work and home life! What is important however is to ensure it feels worthwhile! So, use this opportunity to look ahead and assuming you will find that balance of work and home, dare to dream professionally.

Ask yourself:

  • If you knew you could achieve it, what’s the ultimate career goal?
  • What opportunities are you not taking right now?
  • What have you always wanted to try and money, time, circumstances held you back?

How does this link to confidence building? When we start thinking about what is possible rather than what is not possible, we start to feel energised again. We start sharing thoughts with others around us, start to see new ideas takes shape and we feel more in control! All this fuels our motivation and confidence.

What is the opportunity for growth?

Having completed the step above, it is easier to focus on what will help you reach these goals - are you missing some knowledge, networks, technical skills?

Consider training (at work, on-line, external), Network groups, Mentoring internally or externally & Sponsorship within the organisation.

Learning in any form gives us a sense of confidence as we grow and stretch ourselves.

Acknowledge & share your accomplishments & successes

Remind yourself and others! This is not solely applicable to work - it is also important out of work. Have you regularly attended a new sports class or hobby group, have you been more disciplined about being present at home and not connected to your phone/laptop. At work, did you speak up in a meeting that you have often held back in, did you challenge an idea or volunteer to lead a new piece of work?

Every success, however big or small, needs to be acknowledged and it needs to start with you! Congratulate yourself and then share with others.

The final booster!

Do something that scares you out of work! Rather than focus all your energy on how to build confidence at work, look externally. What would stretch you out of your comfort zone, be it in sports, hobbies, travel?

When you find the courage to try something new and then succeed, you become stronger and more confident. You stand taller, take up your space and this will have a positive impact in how you show up at work.


These are a sample few ideas of how to increase your confidence. If you want to develop this further and be fulfilled as a parent and a professional, please do reach out to us at Thrive.

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