Two months today, I’ll be heading back to work. Back to the office and back to the life I used to have before becoming a parent.
The first month of maternity leave was awful. I finished work two weeks before I was due and George ended up being two weeks late so I had a month of being the size of a whale with nothing to do. I ended up buying a Now TV entertainment pass and watched Sex and the City back from series 1. My love for Samantha grew even stronger and my Amazon basket got even bigger as I kept panic buying extra baby things that on reflection, I really didn’t need.
I kept finding excuses to log into my email and see what was going on. I would text people in the office to see where things were up to and read industry news online to keep up-to-speed. To be honest – I found it really hard to let go and switch off!
When George arrived and we got home, my focus turned to him and my recovery so I was forced to put work at the back on my mind. About a month in of being a mum, I started feeling really anxious about work. I was worried that I would fall behind, they wouldn’t want me back and that I wouldn’t be able to relax for the rest of my maternity leave. It made me think about two female directors in the company who both have children and are great at their jobs. They have sleepless nights, come in tired, blitz through their work, have time for other people and leave bang on time to make the nursery pick up. This made me realise that working and being a parent can be done.
When I think back to my own childhood, I barely saw my mum. She was a single parent and worked really late hours so I spent a lot of time with my childminder and grandparents. I still refer to the childminder as my auntie now! This probably added to my anxiety in thinking I would never be home to see George.
I decided to make the first three months of mum life all about George and adjusting – this led me up to Christmas. In January, I did two keeping in touch (KIT) days and I’m so, so happy that I did. Just being in the office and getting an update from the team made me feel so much calmer and less anxious. I’m now doing two per month until I go back to ease me back in and it also helps to get some extra cash.
Everyone that is entitled to statutory maternity pay is entitled to 10 KIT days. You don’t have to take them but I would really advise that you do. They don’t affect your maternity pay and they are so, so beneficial.
Speaking to my bosses, they have agreed to a staggered return to work and a slight change to my hours so that I can make the nursery pick up. It’s made me realise that parenting and working can coexist and that it shouldn’t be something to fear.
I realise that I am lucky and that not all companies offer so much flexibility and support. When I go back, I’m going to focus on my day so that I can get all of my tasks done and make it home in time to see George and play with him before bed.
But for now, I’m going to spend the next two months enjoying the rest of my leave and squeezing in as many cuddles with him as possible!