Is it ever easy returning to work after maternity leave?
I wanted to take this time to share my story of returning to work after maternity leave. I vividly remember two weeks into returning to work after my second child, Florence, I had this moment of reflection on how everything had once again changed in my life. Although, I experienced all of this before with my eldest daughter, Tilly, I still remember feeling unsure how I would adapt mentally coming back to work, as well as the huge change in routine.
I was a little apprehensive as I struggled to go from working full time in an exciting, challenging and ever-changing business, to being at home with a newborn baby whilst keeping up with Tilly’s busy schedule, her mountains of homework and a social life I can only envy. Don’t get me wrong; the excitement to ‘get back into it’ was very much present. I was eager to get back into the team environment, to feel challenged again in a different way and let’s be honest, actually be able to drink a cup of tea whilst it was still hot!
So the night before the big day arrived, my partner (Tom) and I took ‘being organised’ to a whole new level. Tom is a to-do list kind of guy; so, we set about ticking things off on our mammoth checklist with the goal of making our lives as easy as possible. Our bags were packed, the kid’s bags were packed, and all of our clothes were ready. We pre made breakfast and lunch for the two of us for the week and I even went as far as cooking and freezing some evening meals just in case. Everything was strategically placed around the house in order of our morning routine. Making things as seamless as possible. I worked out the best route to school and nursery with traffic; Tom leaves for work just after six so it was down to me. I knew we had everything ready and I knew what time I wanted to be at the school gates, at the nursery and at the office. What could possibly go wrong?!
Well, I think I jinxed myself because it seems that children move to one speed?! SLOW!
My two girls insist on doing everything themselves but only when time really isn’t on our side! Oh my gosh, I have turned into my mother! After far more rushing than there should have been and insisting on doing her own hair, Tilly finally made an appearance for breakfast. The toaster packed in, Florence flipped her cereal over, Tilly suddenly remembered she needed money to pay for one of her school clubs and we were not on the schedule I had planned!!! I could have been mad but I wasn’t.
It’s safe to say that I didn’t make it to the office at the time I wanted to get there for. In my first two weeks, Florence picked up so many bugs from nursery, I had to get away to do the school pick ups, I also received a call from the school to say my eldest was poorly and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone to pick her up. But all this is just life right?!
During my time off, I kept up with a few things going on in the business and the ‘flexible working scheme’ pre Covid-19 was in place. I listened but didn’t take much notice of it as work had always been great with things like that so didn’t feel it would be any different. How wrong I was. Going back to work after maternity leave is not easy! It just isn’t. However, it can and should be made easier.
I am so grateful to Virgin Media for a supportive policy, which had a positive impact on not just my transition, but also that of my children and partner. I’ve done the whole shouting for being late thing and then everyone is in a bad mood and it puts a dampener on the day. Anyone’s time with their family is precious, and I never want to spend mine shouting and constantly governing what everyone is doing.
In my previous job, I’ve had the guilt of not being there when I really should have been. Missed music assembly’s and sprinted through the door in hopes of not missing my slot for parents evening. Virgin Media have always been great with flexible working and of course, now, due to the pandemic, I work from home and I don’t have to worry about sitting in endless traffic. There is no guilt if I need to arrange my day to fit in a family commitment. I don’t get stressed about it anymore and quite frankly, my productivity is higher.
Don’t get me wrong, it was still tough getting back into things, however, both Tom and I feel incredibly lucky. Imagine what it would have been like without that flexibility?!
Thank you Virgin Media!