Whenever I’ve gone back into the world of the employee after a lengthy period consulting, there’s always a small amount of apprehension, naturally. Will I settle back into the new routine, how will I get on with the new people, will the culture suit me, that kind of thing.

The one comfy chair I can always fall back on, however, is that I have never had more than a month or two off from working. I’ve been able to keep my eye in all the while and stay up to speed with the world of business at a macro level.

I have nothing but admiration, therefore, for women who take a sustained period of time off – by which I mean more than two years straight – to raise their children and then return to the world of work.

The world changes awfully fast, and your knowledge and confidence can take a huge knock. It takes real guts to jump onto a moving vehicle that is going faster than it was when you jumped off, and has completely changed its whole build, shape and appearance since you were last on board. It might not even be the same vehicle; it might be a totally different one in a different industry. You have little or no point of reference. Your skills, shortcuts, and muscle memory from when you last worked don’t cut it any more.

I know someone who took a dozen years out to bring up her kids. She was working in a traditional area of IT that you never hear of these days. Yes, they were called mainframes back then. She went back to college for a year, updated her skills, got her qualification, did an internship, interviewed with some companies and started a brand new career, all within 14 months. Daunting, eh?

So hats off to you returning-to-work mothers. And, as the Irish would say, in probably the understatement of the year, fair play to ye!