I was working at a senior level when I was pregnant with Wriggler. The pregnancy was actually straight forward and uncomplicated (bar a chorionic hematoma at eight weeks), but due to our earlier loss I was anxious while I carried Wriggler.
The commute to the office wasn’t great (those baby on board badges mean nothing to commuters in rush hour) and flexi-working wasn’t a thing in our office. Despite that I had always thought I would find a way to go back to that role and location, but discussions around how to make any concept of flexi-working possible were difficult; so I chose to find something closer to home and more family friendly. Thankfully, I found another role and was happy there. After having Fidget The Mr and I hoped I could be a SAHM and once we looked at the cost of childcare for two it was a no-brainer. The agency I was with were amazing and very supportive of my decision.
But, I think back to the two experiences and I know I am not alone among my peers in finding that it can be hard returning to work after mat leave. Partly, (and I think we have to admit this) we have changed – but the workplace we left has also changed and things have happened there without us.
The culture of the firm and the director you work under has a massive influence as to how welcoming and flexible the firm is to you coming back. I remember begging for updates on my projects while I was away and being ignored, I felt that it was ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Or you can be pestered with questions and being asked to help by your cover from the moment you are out of hospital.
Working out if to return, and then how to return – what the working week looks like, how you can realistically do your role in your flex proposal and what kind of culture you are going back to is hard, espically when your sleep reserves are runing low.
And while there are reports from some firms on how well they do welcoming and integrating mothers back into the workforce, there are plenty out there proving that the value that we bring isn’t perceived, or utilised.
If you are at that point of working out how, when (or even if) you should be going back to work after having your baby there here are some useful links for resources and support networks, so you can hopefully make the transition a positive one.