1 year back from Maternity Leave

Let’s ignore the fact I haven’t blogged for almost 4 years. I have been busy – not least producing a tiny human. Which is what made me think about writing this blog post. A year ago today I returned from Maternity leave back to a job I love from another job I loved. The two jobs – shared a common factor. Both involved a lot of cake but otherwise being on maternity leave was quite different to being at work. My days were completely controlled by another human being, there was not a break from them, even at night they could call me to duty and sometimes I didn’t get a legally required lunch break after 6 hours. Saying that being Evan’s mum full time was also fun – baby sensory, long walks with friends and watching Hey Duggee (and every episode of Grey’s Anatomy). He is awesome.

Evan was almost 10 months on 2nd November 2015 when I headed back into work. I had been in for keeping in touch days about once a month from when Evan was 5 months. This is something I can’t recommend highly enough. I was also doing something a lot of women don’t get to do – I was sharing my parental leave and for 2 months Evan was at home with my husband. I might do another post on sharing parental leave but again I can’t recommend this enough either.

Before you wonder, yes I did go back full time. Now if you were wondering this can I ask – would you have wondered this if my husband was writing this? Something I have realised since going back is that until we change the assumption that if someone works part time it will be the mother we won’t get very far at increasing the number of women in  work (We also need to get away from assuming either will have to be part time).

I have friends who work part time and love it, some are stay at home mums who love it or stay at home mums who hate it or working mums who love it or hate it – every mum has their own story and they don’t need to be asked about their decisions. They can also change their minds on their decisions.

For me I love working, I loved my job before I had Evan and I still love it. At first being back was a shock to the system. I had to get to know my job again, after it had been someone else’s for 8 months but getting in my car every day and being Helen Rimmer, Librarian rather than Evan’s mum felt good. I could make tea and drink it. I was connected with the world again – gossip and news coming to me through work and Twitter. I had a professional identity again. I also remembered I was quite good at my job. People asked me my opinion on things and listened, they trusted me and I work with brilliant people.

It hasn’t all been easy, some things had changed and some things not happened all of which I then needed to either live with or change. It probably has taken the year to really feel that my job is my job again but I have a supportive manager and a great team. These are two vital ingredients to successfully heading back because sometimes being a mum will be the priority. If Evan is ill that trumps anything else.

I’ll admit the hardest time was when Evan started nursery just before his 1st birthday but within 3 days he no longer cried when my husband dropped him off and clearly loved it. Last week twice when I picked him up he cried because he didn’t want to leave. He has done things there we would never have had the inclination to do with him – mainly the really messy things. He is also a lot tidier than either of us – this has to be down to nursery. He gets to eat a huge variety of food and generally wolves it down.

He gets time with us after work (and with my husband before work – I leave before he gets up). Generally almost 2 hours of undivided attention every evening, where we talk to him, play with him and sometimes when he lets us just cuddle him.

I am definitely a better mum for working, I am more patient with Evan and happier.

If you are a mum and reading this – whatever your decision work wise, make sure it is yours and it works for your family. You don’t have to go back to work, you don’t have to work full time or part time but you need to do what is right for you. Everyone who isn’t you needs to stop asking stupid questions about your decision and support it. We are in 2016 – it shouldn’t be a surprise that a mother works and is happy about it. Equally it shouldn’t be a surprise if a father stays at home or works part time.