This blog was contributed by Reanne Brian.

You have recently begun your maternity leave. You are apprehensive, nervous and terrified. But you’re also ridiculously excited. In a matter of days, you will be responsible for a tiny human being. For the past nine months, you have felt every kick, survived each morning of extreme nausea and tried to fulfil every craving you have ever had for peanut butter and gherkins. The journey to creating a whole new life will soon be over, but already you find yourself considering your return to work. Will you return to your role full time? Will you cut your working hours to part time? Will you go back to work at all? Are you even asking yourself the right questions when it comes to your career? Take a look at these alternative post-maternity leave options to change the way you look at your future.

  1. Reassess and Work From Home

Nothing is preventing you from taking your maternity leave before resigning and taking a dip in the self-employment pool. Think about your skills and what your passions are. You never know, you could turn something that you love into a money making business. If you’re creative, think about using your skills to design bespoke invitations, illustrate books or create company logos. If you have developed contacts in your pre-baby work life, use them to begin a network of potential clients. Can you take your career freelance? There are many writers, accountants, tutors and artists who offer their services online across a range of platforms. If bouncing your little one on your knee while trying to answer work emails in your home office appeals, then this may be an option for you.

2. Take Time Out to Learn

Just because you have had a new little bundle of joy doesn’t mean you can’t do something to enhance your resume or to develop new career prospects. You could enroll in an evening class at a local college to enhance your soft skills such as your ability to make effective presentations or learn how to use industry specific software. You could go a step further and take on a postgraduate qualification. An online teacher librarian program is an excellent option for those new moms who are teachers or have experience within schools. By completing the MA online, you can fit it around your baby while enhancing your career prospects. Many industry specific qualifications allow you to tweak your career slightly, giving you a new challenge on your return to work life.

  1. Be the Childcare Solution for Others

If you find yourself relishing getting up each morning to look after your own little one, consider looking after other people’s as well. You could provide creche style services to other working moms as they return to work. Many women find themselves fitting comfortably into the role of stay-at-home mom, and there should be no embarrassment in this. By setting yourself up professionally as a child minder or nursery, you could create your own company, becoming self-employed and making money while spending quality time with your child.

Whatever you decide to do with your career post-maternity leave, don’t wish those six weeks, three months or twelve months away too quickly. Enjoy your maternity leave and enjoy getting to know your new baby. Then return to your career refreshed and reinvigorated.