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on 6 September 2013
I bought this book as I am about to return to work after a years maternity leave and feel guilty and stressed about leaving my child in nursery.

There is some useful guidance on deciding whether to return to your old job, or look for a new one, and how to negotiate part-time working if this is what you want. Also how the whole family can pull together to make it work.

The book is also full of quotes from real mothers discussing how they felt about returning to work, and this is where I feel the book really lets itself down. It is very biased towards the high-flying career driven woman, and not representative of the average woman.

Some of the quotes are unbelievable, such as the woman who cried the first time she took her son to nursery, because they WOULD NOT take him as he was ill and she was devestated to miss out on two hours of time to herself. Or the woman who skipped down the road after leaving her child for the first time, saying she had never been so happy.

Most of the women are lawyers/doctors etc who have obviously spent many years studying and climbing the career ladder, and seem completely defined by their job, and feel they have no identity outside of work. They almost seem to see their children as an unwelcome interference to their career and can't wait to get back to work.

There is no input from the average woman with a run-of-the-mill job who has to go back for financial reasons, but doesn't really want to. Or how about a little feedback from women that decided to stay at home and look for a job in a few years? How did that work out?

The book quotes a statistic that 61% of mothers would work even if they did not need to financially, which I find a little unbelievable. If you are one of these women and feel guilty about your decision then this is the book for you.

If you, like I suspect the majority of mothers, have to go back to work and will miss your child, then this is not the book for you. You, like me, will not identify with it at all!
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on 5 July 2011
I made the decision not to return to work after my second child then a friend put me on to Jessica's work and now I find myself reassessing my options. Although too late to return to my old job, 'Mothers Work' has given me a great deal of inspiration and confidence to start again. The structure of the book makes it easy to dip in and out of and offers practical advice and exercises which really get you thinking. The wealth of examples from "real" people reinforce the message that being a happy and successful working mum is doable and can be such a positive experience. I no longer feel like a failure for giving up when the going got tough - the book made me realise how tough it was and how little support I received whilst working part time between my two kids. Now I feel like I have the tools to attack those challenges and try a different tack either with a new employer or to do something for myself.

The only reason that I didn't give it 5 stars is because it has the potential to make those who are wavering feel like a failure if they don't go back to work. It does smack a little of stay at home mums will never be as happy or as fulfilled. However, if you are firmly in the stay at home camp, why would you be reading this?

Personally, I wish I had had access to this kind of support and advice during my maternity leave. If I were still employed in my HR role, I would be factoring the purchase of Mothers Work into my budget to hand out to all women going off to have babies. For smaller employers who cannot afford maternity coaching programmes, this book is a no brainer investment to help retain female talent.
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on 12 June 2011
This is a self-help handbook for women who are thinking about their return to work after their first child or subsequent children. The target audience is successful professional women who had a career pre-children and who want to continue their career post-children. Written in a friendly, chatty style, it is full of quotations from other women about all aspects of returning to work. It's very practical, taking you through eight different aspects of returning to work, with exercises aimed to help you design your ideal work / home arrangements.

The book will appeal to women who want to return to work and don't want to feel guilty about it. The author was possibly on commission for the number of times she could include the phrase "happy mummy, happy baby". It is heavily weighted towards justifying a return to work (part or full time) and the positives for the mother in working. There is a lack of balance: an absence of any information, evidence or even anecdote about the impact of parental work patterns on babies or children. The well-being of the child is hardly mentioned; rather the book focuses on the impact on the mother, or assumes that if a mother wants to work this is bound to be best for her family.

Whilst there is certainly no consensus amongst academics, or women themselves, on the impact of mothers' work on babies and small children, some inclusion in this book about the potential downsides for a child's development and attachment would have provided a welcome balance. Including both sides of the debate would enable women readers to make up their own mind. However, helping women to feel confident in their decisions about achieving the right work-home balance for their family is a laudable aim and one which this book goes quite some way to achieving.
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on 29 May 2011
As a psychologist I know the frustrations that women face when trying to be the 'perfect' mother and working woman. Jessica Chivers has written a book that should become the bible for all such women. In Mothers Work! Jessica confides, coaches and coerces in a way that will make every mother feel positive and empowered. Her book is stuffed with down-to-earth advice, ingenious ideas, exercises to help women discover what they really want, real women's experiences and eight 'Mum's Mantras' to keep the guilt (and the madness) at bay. I love how she deals with the guilt that clouds the choices of so many mothers thinking about returning to work (when? for how long? child-minder or nursery?). Jessica's chapter Get A Grip On Guilt strikes just the right note, with her ten 'guilt-grippers' emerging from the wise words of other women who've survived the guilt trip. Jessica tackles all the ways guilty feelings can bubble up (whether it's over leaving little Harry in a nursery or the demise of home-cooked meals) and shows you how to replace them with new thinking and positive actions (meet Harry's key nursery worker, slip in some fresh veggies). Brilliant. Worth buying the book for that chapter alone.
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on 7 June 2011
This is a great readable book that would be helpful to both employers of women and employees who are pregnant, are thinking about whether or not to return to work after a baby, and even those who have recently returned to work already.

Each chapter of the book contains key ideas and action points, with good solid sections on hard negotiating with employers, home organisation, guilt and how to be `good enough' rather than reaching for the impossibly airbrushed versions of working media parenthood thrown at us every day.

There is a super blow-by-blow action plan to follow if you are feeling unconfident or unconvinced about working again, but by far the most valuable and powerful thread running right the way through the book are the voices of around 200 working parents who illustrate Jessica's narrative and confirm the key truth of her book: that there is no one right way, that the key things are to be clear on what you want, to be strong enough to ask for it, and to make that decision work as a family.
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on 30 May 2011
The subtitle of this book is "How to get a grip on guilt and make a smooth transition back to work", and it definitely delivers on its promise.

Jessica Chivers has plenty of experience working with women to help them achieve what's important to them. When her first child was 5 months old, she tells us that she dropped him off at the childminders and skipped away, exhilarated by the taste of freedom and the prospect of a whole morning at work.

She draws heavily upon her personal experience, and the experiences of 200 other women who were interviewed for this book throughout, and that for me, is what made it so readable. All the way through you can see other people's viewpoints and you can see that whatever you may be feeling about returning to work, you are not alone - someone has gone ahead of you, and solved the problem in their own way.

Despite her own choice for returning to work without guilt, Jessica is not at all saying that this is the only way, At no point is she saying that you must return to work, merely that if you want to there are strategies that will make it easier.

Each chapter is peppered with no-nonsense practical good advice, and the style is chatty and friendly. I really warmed to Jessica throughout the book - she is the kind of best friend that all new mums should have.

Top marks to Jessica for publishing in book form and also on Kindle - this is the future....

Mothers Work!: How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work
Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work
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on 20 October 2011
This is an excellent, practical and positive book written to support women who choose to go back to work after having a break to have one or more children. It recognises that this is a big period of transition for the family unit and is hugely useful to help plan for and navigate that path. I personally found it very inspiring and it was reassuring to hear some of my own thoughts, anxieties and feelings about the change echoed by the testimonies from other women's experiences in the book. Jessica has a unique conversational style which is upbeat and very easy to read and her book made me feel completely confident in my decision to go back to work when my son was eight months old and proud to do so. I am enjoying shaping the life we have chosen and I hope others will feel the same!This book is the best thing a woman thinking about going back to work can get her hands on!
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on 29 June 2011
After a previously unsuccessful return to work, I thought I'd read this in time for my second attempt next year. This is a great book - chatty, anecdotal, down to earth. The exercises will definitely be useful nearer my point of return, and I loved the little tips and asides from other mums.

One of the chapters I enjoyed most was the one about finding appropriate childcare for your family's needs. It very usefully has lists of questions for childminders, nurseries etc, and it was really revealing to read through other mums' reasons for their choice of childcare. As a champion of nurseries and after-school clubs, I was always interested to see why some people prefer childminders. Now I know!

I also heard my own voice several times and it's always comforting to know I am not alone in, for example, harbouring resentment towards my husband's seemingly cushy life.

One of the important things I have taken away from this book is the fact that 'quality time' with children doesn't have to be something organised, and this will take the pressure off on my return (and in fact even now, during school holidays). I also applaud the concept that everyone has days where they feel harrassed and 'behind' and as long as you are having more 'on' than 'off' days, it is working out.

I would definitely buy this book for anyone who is considering their options when returning to work.
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on 27 May 2011
Mothers work reads like you have the advice of a good and sensible friend in your pocket. I could have done with this a year or do ago as I have now been back at work long enough that I have found my feet but I will be keeping it safe on the shelf for my return after no,2.

The real life advice is really well presented and I like the fact that, although it covers a cross section, a lot of the advice is from professional mum's who really value their careers as something which defines them. This book is not patronising as I have found many "mum" books. It is sensible and practical.

It won't solve or prevent the emotional turmoil which defines this period in almost every working mothers life but it will help you to know you are not alone and perhaps help you to focus and "find your feet/routine" that little bit quicker...
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on 20 June 2011
As a 'stay at home' Mum who used to have a decent career before children, I thought I had already made up my mind on the issue of combined motherhood and working, particularly whilst my children are still small. However, this well written book gave me food for thought on the potential benefits of a return to work and I am dusting off my CV as I write!

Jessica writes in a conversational style, reminiscent of sitting down for a coffee with a good friend. Her advice is practical and balanced, with plenty of anecdotes from real working mums to show there are many different approaches to the issue, and most importantly, that it is possible to achieve a balance that works for the whole family, as long as you are prepared to lower your standards in some areas of your life!
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