Looking back on my maternity leave, it was a lot like a two week holiday. I spent the first three and a half months thinking I had so much time off, so much so what was I going to do with it. The final three and a half months I thought so much about how time was running away so quickly, that I was never going to get it back and I was not going to be able to cherish all this special time with my daughter. (I soon copped on about this latter feeling and got on with it!).
For a good chunk of people, going back to work is inevitable at some stage. For me I went back after just over 7 months of maternity leave – and now that I’m fully back in work, here are the things that I find about it all:
It’s not a bad thing
There’s a chunk of folk that will tell you that it’s an awful thing to have to ‘dump’ your child with someone else to raise while you go make a shilling. Though there are a few folk who will acknowledge the other side of going back to work – that it’s quite lovely to tickle that other part of your brain with projects, questions and challenges. That life isn’t all about nappies and play and naps and sterilising – that life also can be about other complexities and you can be part of that too, if you’d like.
You get some simple pleasures back
There are two that I immediately noted:
- Peeing all by yourself. Now unless you are someone who particularly likes an audience when you are using the facilities, this is a very simple thing to retrieve all for yourself.
- Having a hot cup of tea, and being able to sit and drink that with two hands – additional adult company optional. It’s incredible. In work, I boil a kettle make my drink and then drink it. Straight away. Absolutely nuts. I also get to go and choose from a selection of cuisines what I’d like for lunch – and not base it on what place takes a buggy comfortably or how quickly I could stuff a pitta with whatever was in the fridge and eat it before herself woke up.
Have to admit that I never really acknowledge these two life pleasures before I had a child but boy do I now. And in this busy world in which we live, I do like the fact that I do now stop and smell the tea. And then drink it. Hot.
It’s a balancing act, and always will be
There are days that I totally miss her – especially if it’s a sunny day and I know that hanging out in the park or meeting up with some mum friends for a play date would be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.
You can be very welcome back in the workplace
I heard a lovely thing from my next door neighbour, which really did change my perspective on this. He mentioned to me – very passionately – that in his workplace, he goes out of his way to hire new mums onto his team, if he can at all possibly. When I asked why, he told me straight: “There is no better person on the planet for efficiency and great time management than a new mum.” He didn’t care about the odd crèche illness or doctor’s appointment. He was so clear about this – they are the best asset for a team.
I had a very different misconception about heading back to work, so it was lovely to think that were folk like my neighbour actively seeking me for their team. And I did find that when I did head into work, I was not sidelined by any means. It was time for challenges, braintickling and tea. And then when the evening claxon sounded, there is that lovely thing to look forward to which is heading to crèche to see that little girl’s face as you walk into the room.