Returning to work after having a baby can be a really difficult transition to make. Here Laura tells us how returning to work has felt for her and changes she has made to achieve a better work/life balance.
After you have a baby, you are given time to bond and get to know that little person you spent 9 months carrying inside of you.
Time known as Maternity Leave.
But after Maternity Leave you are faced with a choice.
Do you go back to work?
Going back to work or finding a new job can be a very daunting task, and a million miles away from the only life you have known since having your baby. Returning to work after having a baby can be a real confidence knock after you have spent a year, day in day out with baby brain, taking showers with your bra on, putting nappies in the fridge, multiple night feeds and the fact you can’t even wear an outfit without baby leaving his mark on it.
How are you supposed to pull it together enough to return to the job that you did pre baby?
For me there was no choice, circumstances meant that I had to return to the world of work and try to pick up where I left off. With my heart on my sleeve I watched the sun set on my last day of being a stay at home Mummy, and on July 25th 2012 I made my return to the office.
The thoughts that had crossed my mind on my return to work didn’t take into account any changes that may have occurred within the business over the 13 months I had been away. They saw me coming back in and picking up exactly where I had left off, but in reality things change, people move on and although your job is still there…things will not be the same.
I had felt so many different emotions about leaving Leo and working again. Excited, nervous, guilty, scared, elated, happy, mean, selfish and even a little lost. I guess you could say that my confidence had been knocked from such a long break.
I was going back full time and amongst the excitement I was feeling about having an actual grown up conversation and giving my mind the work out that I felt it needed, I was scared that I would miss out on Leo and his childhood. There were many conflicting feelings, and they all took it in turns to throw me from pillar to post. Little voices in my mind taunted me, telling me I would have forgotten what I needed to do, and that I would never adjust to being a working parent.
The first day back at work was a buzz and for the first week at least, it felt like I was a real celebrity that they were glad to have back on the team. Soon the celebrity status faded as I became part of the furniture again, I was left with the harsh reality that I could not just swoop in and pick up where I left off.
Before I went on maternity leave I absolutely loved my job, I loved it so much that I decided that I wanted to work right up to the very end. I was always busy and they obviously respected the work that I did and quite happily accepted my decision to work until my due date.
Leo had other plans and decided to come a week early, and that of course put me straight onto Maternity Leave. Even with me gone the same work load needed to be completed in my absence, and they had to source someone else to complete it. I thought with my return, things would revert to how they were when I was at the top of my game, but they kept my old work load at arms length from me.
At first I put it down to them breaking me back into work slowly, and giving me time to adjust to being back. But as the weeks turned into months, more jobs that I used to complete kept slipping through my fingers and I was left feeling like I was at the bottom of the pecking list.
Any sparkle that I had felt in returning to work had now long since diminished. I was missing my baby and I was feeling more of a spare part than the able body that I once was. I weighed up my options and decided that I should apply for flexible working in order to obtain the right balance between work and play.
I am now working a 3 day week and my new working arrangement has given me back valuable time with Leo. I am disappointed that my return to work is not everything that I had hoped it would be, but I am not deterred from working hard and putting my all into whatever I do.
Having Leo has changed my life; he has changed all of my priorities and given me a new sense of direction. Blogging my journey as a working Mother has put me on the road of discovery, and I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I know I am going to hold my head high and follow it wherever it goes.
The best advice I can give in planning your return to work is to ease yourself back into it slowly. Maybe start mid week so that you have the weekend to recuperate, having a bad night with your baby and then going into work the next day has the power to leave you looking and feeling like a zombie.
Going back straight into full time work was a real shock for me, and I don’t think I am alone in this realisation. You have to find the right lifestyle balance for you and your family.
But when you do return, hold your head high and do your best, as that is all you can do in any challenge that life put’s your way. In those early day’s it feels like you will never be able to accept leaving your baby with a family member or a child minder, but you will. Time makes everything ok and somewhere down the road you will find acceptance to your new role as a working parent.
How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave? Did you consider alternative working arrangements?