Frustrated that my career is on hold

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Prosopon
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Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by Prosopon » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:05 pm

Hello, I’m just over 5 months pregnant and whilst ridiculously excited about beginning this new chapter in my life, I’m a little bit frustrated at the impact my pregnancy is having on my psychology-related career plans. I finished my conversion degree in December and began working as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist one day per week. This was in addition to my current job, which is with a relevant client group, but unfortunately not supervised by a Clinical Psychologist. I have had to give up the AP position as the organisation would not allow me to have client contact whilst pregnant and the alternative was being completely office-based, which I knew would drive me crazy.

I had also been applying for paid Assistant Psychologist posts, and was quite successful at obtaining at interviews, but always seemed to get pipped to the post. When I became pregnant I made the decision to stop looking for an Assistant Psychologist job for several reasons. Firstly, most AP jobs I have come across are fixed term contracts and this no longer seems like a viable option now that my family is growing. I suppose I feel a greater need for job and financial stability and security. Secondly, I am not having the easiest pregnancy and my current job is part-time, flexible and supportive and I want to stay in a familiar environment, working with people I know, in a job I am comfortable with while I am feeling more vulnerable than usual. And lastly, staying in my current job makes sense financially in terms of getting full maternity pay etc.

However, as I said, I’m feeling frustrated that my career is now pretty much on hold and I was wondering if anyone had any advice or suggestions for things I could be doing during my pregnancy, and then maternity leave, to ensure I “keep my hand in” so to speak? I am considering trying to publish my MSc conversion course dissertation, which I think would be a good use of my time, but otherwise I’m not sure what else I could be doing. I like the idea of doing a relevant course but am not sure what really and I don’t know how financially viable this would be. I certainly can’t afford to do another Master’s degree, though I wish I could. I’d appreciate any thoughts or suggestions, or words of wisdom from people who have been in a similar situation. Thank you.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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han10
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by han10 » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:24 am

Hi Prosopon, Congratulations on your pregnancy - I hope the remaining months go more smoothly. I can understand your frustration - although I have only been pregnant since being qualified for me the balance has been similar - wanting to progress my career but also wanting a family - both are equally important to me. However I came to the conclusion that in all likelihood I will be working into my late 60's/70's which means I have 30+ years to focus on my career, I don't have that timescale to become a mother, so currently I am choosing to focus on family. A year (or however long you choose to take of mat leave) can feel like an age looking at it now but you will be surprised at how quickly the times goes while being a new mum and how little changes at work!!

While I know some mum's who were able to read textbooks and complete online courses while breastfeeding and there are always super mums who seem to be able to set up businesses while on mat leave - that wasn't my experience. If I left the house and had managed to have a shower and the baby was alive, fed and clothed that was an massive achievement for me some days!

We can set ourselves massive targets both as psychology professionals and new mums and I just wanted to say its ok not to. (I know I am going off the point and as with all advice offered to new mums my first advice is you can choose to ignore anything said to you) consider just being a mum during your mat leave.

Alternatively if you really feel you want to focus on something psychological - what about linking it in with your new motherhood? I started reading (I never got much further than a couple of chapters - but that's what I'm like with all things!) becoming mum which was a ACT based book about motherhood. I should pick it up again as I'm expecting no.2 now....

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miriam
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by miriam » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:27 pm

Yeah, I'd say reading a lot and enjoying having time to read would be my advice. You could also so some online free courses - there are some very credible universities making a lot of topics available for free now, so well worth checking out. But I agree with others to prioritise your wellbeing and enjoy the pregnancy rather than feeling you have to be doing and progressing all the time - baby will arrive all too quickly and will probably change your focus considerably.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

Prosopon
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by Prosopon » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:51 am

Thank you for giving me some perspective, han10. I think the prospect of a year off is very daunting but, like you say, I'm sure it will fly by! Like you, my career and family are equally important to me but I suppose my focus needs to be family at the moment. It's just a bit scary when my career has been my main focus for the last three years! I like the idea of linking new motherhood and psychology and I'm sure being a parent will give me a whole range of new skills and experiences that will serve me well in my future career.

Thank you for your response, Miriam. Yes, I should imagine my focus will change when the baby is here and I could definitely do with prioritising my wellbeing a bit more.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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Beggarsroost
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by Beggarsroost » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:28 pm

Hi Prosopon,

I am in a slightly similar position but my little one is now a toddler. I am not qualified or on the DClin and have struggled a lot with the feelings you describe It is really tough to balance wanting a family but at the same time wanting to progress in your career.

I have found it hard since having my child to be honest, there isn't a lot of well paid, flexible, part-time work out there that also allows you to feel like you are developing and progressing in your career. but still avoiding the "mum guilt" of working too much! That, combined with the fact that most AP/similar roles are fixed term contracts and the cost of childcare has meant I've felt very defeated.

However, as another poster said you have all the time in the world to progress in your career. The most important thing now is too enjoy your pregnancy (as much as you can!) and then your new little one. You will get back to work if you so choose and you will go on to have a fulfilling and successful career. It may take a little longer and it may look a little different than you planned but hey, its all valuable experience.

I have actually decided to no longer aim for the DClin (at least for the foreseeable future) as 1. I didn't want to take on a full time++ training course when my child was little and 2. It wasn't really worth it financially when you factor in full-time childcare costs. Letting go of "the dream" has been tough but I have found a part-time permanent role, in a slightly different area that I love. It still gives me experience that will be useful should I decide to pursue clinical psychology again and allows me to develop and use my skill set.

Your experience may vary of course, this has just been my experience! As cliche as it sounds my priorities did change after having children. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy, look after yourself and remember you're only running your own race!
Life is far too important to be taken seriously

Prosopon
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by Prosopon » Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:41 pm

Beggarsroost wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:28 pm
Hi Prosopon,

I am in a slightly similar position but my little one is now a toddler. I am not qualified or on the DClin and have struggled a lot with the feelings you describe It is really tough to balance wanting a family but at the same time wanting to progress in your career.

I have found it hard since having my child to be honest, there isn't a lot of well paid, flexible, part-time work out there that also allows you to feel like you are developing and progressing in your career. but still avoiding the "mum guilt" of working too much! That, combined with the fact that most AP/similar roles are fixed term contracts and the cost of childcare has meant I've felt very defeated.

However, as another poster said you have all the time in the world to progress in your career. The most important thing now is too enjoy your pregnancy (as much as you can!) and then your new little one. You will get back to work if you so choose and you will go on to have a fulfilling and successful career. It may take a little longer and it may look a little different than you planned but hey, its all valuable experience.

I have actually decided to no longer aim for the DClin (at least for the foreseeable future) as 1. I didn't want to take on a full time++ training course when my child was little and 2. It wasn't really worth it financially when you factor in full-time childcare costs. Letting go of "the dream" has been tough but I have found a part-time permanent role, in a slightly different area that I love. It still gives me experience that will be useful should I decide to pursue clinical psychology again and allows me to develop and use my skill set.

Your experience may vary of course, this has just been my experience! As cliche as it sounds my priorities did change after having children. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy, look after yourself and remember you're only running your own race!
Thank you so much for your helpful and supportive reply. It's good to hear from people with similar experiences. I'm glad you've found a job that you love.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

sparkling
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by sparkling » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:54 pm

A bit late in the day but my kids are asleep :wink:

I felt somewhat the same, although we had to wait ages, when I became pregnant. It was a second career and I hadn’t got on the first year I applied (unsurprisingly and rightly so, on reflection). I ended up having 3 years’ “out” as after having fertility treatment for our first, our second arrived. Like a bus😂. But I was still very ambitious and felt anxious this was preventing me from gaining the very experience I was needing. However.....fast forward. And I don’t deny the impact of time and good fortune. However, I’m in my third year (I started when mine were nearly 1 and nearly 2). But I don’t feel I’ve lost out on anything (I am older as well given it’s my second career). But I really wasn’t able to have this perspective before. My attitude to interviews and work was and is very different by virtue of priorities. Yes, I was gutted to have to take years out at the time, how this would impact my application etc. But I’m so much more balanced and chilled (on the course!) now with kids than I would have been before. And I still have lots of years ahead.

I appreciate all this is very easy for me to say. But you’re very fortunate to be having a child and I’m sure they’ll enrich (and take away your sleep and sanity!) your lives and there is plenty of time afterwards. However much it feels otherwise. My ability to reflect and think about my life has also increased exponentially - I wonder if this is a mixture of lots of things - time, emotion, a sense of evolution, happiness, who knows....all and more.

But congratulations - and best of luck x

decampbell
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by decampbell » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:51 am

This has all been a lot of really interesting food-for-thought. I am just at the beginning of this path into (hopefully, one day) clinical psychology, having also had another career before this and only just completed an MSc conversion. I spent the whole of my 20s really soul-searching and exploring what career was right for me, and so I'm really committed to making this work. I know it involves a lot of effort and (for me at least, considering I was financially stable and established in my old career) sacrifice (not trying to be negative! I think doing a career I'm passionate about and genuinely excited by definitely compensates for those pragmatic sacrifices, but they were sacrifices for sure). However, I'm also starting to realise that I would like kids in the not-too-distant future (this wasn't something I thought I wanted until relatively recently). Now I'm just quite unclear about how or if I can make both of these desires work.

I'm concerned that if I had kids now, I would struggle to get back on track with this career change since so many of the jobs I'm seeing are fixed term or very low pay and having a child or two to care for would make that a less accessible option. On the other hand, I'm worried that I'm at the age now (33) that if I put having a child on hold for several years until I was on the doctorate or qualified, I may very well be leaving things too late.

Has anyone done the first-child-+-new-career thing concurrently, or realistically do you think one really has to focus solely on one or the other (of course, excluding time spent on maternity leave)? Is it only doable to do both if you have a lot of money and social support to help with child care? Has anyone ever had a child while in the midst of the doctorate? Sorry, so many questions!

I'm just trying to figure out if I'm being too starry-eyed and idealistic thinking maybe, somehow, I could fit in both in the near future, or whether I need to bring myself down to earth more and realise that, despite being a strong modern woman blablabla, maybe I CAN'T have it all...at least right now. Any thoughts greatly appreciated!

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miriam
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by miriam » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:08 am

Lots of people get pregnant on the course, and many manage training with young children. But many also decide that their life has taken a different path, and CP isn't the be all and end all, whether or not they have children. So don't put life on hold in the hope that this will speed up your career and you can come back to having kids later, as neither is guaranteed.

A particularly impressive friend of mine did her psych degree as a "career break" intended to increase her chances of conceiving through the reduction in stress from a high powered research job in pharmacology. She managed to gain a first, two children and a place on clinical training in remarkably quick succession whilst looking like she had just walked out the Next Directory the entire time, and has gone on to be a prominent figure in the profession. We can't all do it all like that, but you need to figure out what will work for you - and sometimes things just happen, and you figure it out. I was lucky enough to qualify quite young and I took my maternity leave 8 years later as a consultant grade CP - which sounds quite a sensible plan, except that I did so amidst horrendous organisational change, and at the same point my husband was made redundant, and left to set up my own company when my daughters were two. It wasn't what I was planning, but I survived, and I'd never have go to the role I love now without those life events.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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Geishawife
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by Geishawife » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:11 am

I'd echo what Miriam says about there being no guarantees about any of this. As I've said before, children have a habit of coming when they come! My husband and I thought we'd got it sussed - have babies early whilst he was establishing his career then I'd train when they'd started school and he could take on more of the "school run stuff". Long story short, babies didn't come, we gave up thoughts of having them, I trained earlier than planned and we enjoyed our "DINK" life. Until, at the ancient age of 44, I fell pregnant totally out of the blue and we were well enough established for me to be able to stop work and be a full time mum to our gorgeous daughter. When she started school I began doing some private work and now we have what feels like the ideal balance. It was not at all what we'd planned when we were younger and idealistic, but it has worked out far better than I'd hoped and I wouldn't change it for the world.

My message in that long diatribe? Take life as it comes and enjoy the stage you're at. Yes, make rough plans, but accept that it might not work out that way, but that's not always a bad thing. Take each stage as it comes and you're far more likely to end up where you're meant to be. It might not be where you'd imagined, but it could be even better.

decampbell
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Re: Frustrated that my career is on hold

Post by decampbell » Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:44 pm

Thanks for your replies everyone. I definitely do appreciate that you can't actually plan for these things any real way because life will happen how it wants to! I think it's even the ROUGH plan I'm struggling with a little bit right now. But perhaps that's where I need be right now and things will become a little clearer as time goes on. Anyway, thank you!

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