Things I Learnt After Returning To Work From Maternity Leave
When I returned to work after maternity leave – this is what I learnt…
For those of you that don’t know me (hi – *waves*) I have four young children – ranging in ages from six to six months. I am returning to work after maternity leave for the FOURTH time!
I was reflecting on this yesterday and I realized that there were a few things that had happened pretty much every time I had returned to work.
Every. Single. Time.
And they might help some of you be better prepared when the time comes to dust off your business jackets, don your heels, and head back into the office.
Coworkers will inevitably ask how your ‘holiday’ was
As you stumble back into the office, after a traumatic daycare drop off, with your life having inexplicably changed since you last were there, you will often bump into a colleague (usually male and middle aged), who will cheerfully ask how your ‘holiday’ was.
I always felt the urge to cackle insanely and reply ‘this is my holiday’ as I eye off the coffee machine.
The best response to this? Nod, smile and walk away. If they don’t get it now, they aint never going to get it.
You will spend the first few days clearing your email inbox
20,000 emails. That’s my record for how full my email box was after I returned for the second time. It took my whole 3 days at work to sort and clear it.
I was only gone for 9 months.
It was mostly junk, which I think was a reflection of how much emails are actually affecting our productivity.
You will be tired
So so so tired. You thought you were tired after having a baby, and it probably isn’t the same level of tired, but it is a different type of tired.
You are using your brain again after spending your time making spoons into aeroplanes, and reading the same book over and over and over (and over) to your toddler. Your brain is tired – it just needs a little bit of time to adjust to being used in this way again.
You will get blisters
I tend to live in Birkenstocks and sandals year-round in Brisbane, with our mild climate. When it came time to don my fancy, work appropriate flats (I don’t ‘do’ heels, it’s a personal preference, but the effect would be the same), I got crazy huge and painful blisters.
My feet had just been deconditioned.
It took about 2 weeks to ‘recondition’ them and get back to normal. After that all was fine, with my shoes anyway…
I am a better Mum
Now, I feel like this one might cause a bit of controversy, and I want to say:
THIS IS MY OWN EXPERIENCE AND I AM NOT JUDGING ANYONE IN ANYWAY
Since we have cleared that up – I am a better Mum for getting a ‘break’ from my kids and working. I get the chance and space to miss them. I am so happy to see them when I pick them up and I am able to enjoy them more with the time we do have together.
Honestly, I also like working and getting work type things done. But there are some downsides to this and I will address them with the next point…
Balance is Bulls**t
I feel I owe this quote to Mia Freedman from Mamamia, but I think it is true. When you return to work you will often feel pulled in different directions. You will feel the pull to your family and you will feel pulled to your work.
At no time will this be more apparent then when your child gets sick, and they will get sick so often in the first year at daycare. You may feel the pressure of your absence very keenly.
I want you to know this – it will be hard at the time, BUT and this is a big BUT, in the world of work things move quickly and if you get through this period everyone will forget that had to take some extra time off.
The least supportive colleagues are (often, but not always) women without children
This is a warning, and in no way does it cover off all women without children, so it’s a bit of generalization. But honestly, if anyone ever made trouble for me as a working mum, it was other women without children, usually but not limited to younger ones.
The men? The men did not care.
The undermining and complaining actually works against them tho – one day it will be them rushing to make daycare pick up in the traffic, or nursing a sick bub through their 10th vomiting bug that year.
And finally – but most importantly – Your Baby Will Still Love You!
We worry about leaving our littlest loves behind.
How will they cope without us? Will they feel abandoned? Will they be loved while we aren’t there?
The answer is, if you find a good childcare center or care arrangements, they will be totally, 100% fine.
They will still love you when you return.
It will all be ok.
What about you? Do you have any that happened to you? We would *LOVE* to hear them!