My maternity leave was a glorious, albeit sleep-deprived, whirlwind with my son. But suddenly, reality was knocking at the door in the form of work emails and office responsibilities. The thought of returning to work after maternity leave came with a whole rollercoaster ride of emotions and I knew navigating through the transition was going to be a challenge - and a tough one at that.
I felt fortunate that my colleagues kept in touch with me regularly throughout my maternity leave; they struck a great balance of keeping me updated without feeling pressure to reply or acknowledge messages.
I found my KIT days to be a lovely experience. Sometimes I brought my son to the office with me and sometimes I came on my own to get a feel for returning and to spend some time with the team.
I highly encourage any parent on leave to take advantage of the KIT days and keep lines of communication open. It makes the transition feel less daunting—you don't feel like you have so much catch-up to do!
Also, a bonus is that these days are paid for by your employer.
Although I enjoy my job, returning to full-time work after having a baby was more challenging than I'd anticipated.
At The People Experience Hub, we've always had a flexible working policy, so I decided to make the most of it and discuss my options when returning to work. I was stuck in a place where full-time felt like too much and part-time didn't feel like enough for me. So, Nick asked me to think about different options—and come back with some ideas of my own.
I was fortunate that my partner would be staying at home, so he could care for our son while I worked. As a result, I chose a schedule in which I worked from noon until six—leaving my mornings free to spend with our child.
I also work from home and have a separate office upstairs, meaning I can nip for a cuddle and a cuppa when needed!
Ah, mum guilt. I wasn't prepared for that either. I thought that by still spending mornings with my son, I wouldn't feel guilty about working.
Again, I was totally wrong!
The hardest part of returning to work has been my struggle with feeling pulled in two directions.
I spoke honestly with my team and partner about the challenges I faced, which gave me a support network for difficult days. It is easier for people to be kind and forgiving toward me on days when they are aware I'm having a hard time.
After one of my many chats with Nick about how I was feeling, he suggested that I sign up for Mentor Mums. I hadn't heard of Mentor Mums before so off I went to Google to find out more!
Mentor Mums is a free service where you are matched with a 'Mum Mentor' who has done it all before and can support you with your return to work.
I signed up via the website and a week later, I was able to talk with one of the organisation's volunteers about my return to work—and about me as a person.
I’m currently waiting to be matched with my mentor and I'm looking forward to working with a fellow parent who understands the struggles that I've experienced.
If you would like to find out more about Mentor Mums, you can visit their website here: https://www.mentormums.co.uk/_
Looking back, I can see that adjusting to work life after maternity leave has been much harder than I anticipated. Some days feel great and other days are a struggle—but just talking about it with my coworkers and making the most of helpful resources really helps move things along for me.
I hope to work together with my mentor and hopefully in the future become a 'Mum Mentor' myself, in the hopes of helping another, happy but overwhelmed mum like me!