Returning to work after maternity leave, is it really so bad?

I had a baby last July and enjoyed six blissful months off with William on maternity leave. We spent lazy (guilt free) mornings nursing, drinking coffee (me) sleeping (him) both getting to know each other and finding our rhythm as new mum and baby. Our afternoons were spent with other mums and babies, usually eating cake, and our evenings involved cluster feeding and the relentless pursuit of getting William into a bedtime routine. Seven months on I’m still working on that bedtime routine! My maternity leave was wonderful – six months of my life that I will never forget. But it came to an end on January 10th. It was time for me to return to the workplace and for William to go to nursery.

I could no longer stay in my PJ’s until midday if William had an unsettled night; I would have to be up and out the house by 7:30am with a baby and his bag packed for nursery and me dressed suitably to meet clients. My baby was going to be looked after by someone else, someone I didn’t know. For several weeks my mind buzzed with anticipation, contemplation and a million questions. Would the nursery know what to do with MY baby? Would they warm his bottle to the right temperature? Would they chat to him whilst changing his nappy, as he doesn’t like it otherwise? Would William miss me or even worse think I’ve deserted him? He can’t speak yet so how would I know if something was wrong? Would I be able to concentrate at work? Would I remember what to do? Will I ever be good at my job again? The night before I re-joined the office world I had a dreadful case of sundaynighitis.

However, one month in, I can report that it really isn’t so bad. Here are my observations…

The baby is just fine. In fact, William is thriving at nursery. The routine, the daily activities, the other children, the smells, sounds, toys, real food – it is all leading to a pretty exhausted but very happy baby. I am consulted on absolutely everything that William does, it’s all recorded and they cannot wait to tell me what he’s been up to each day. William is changing so much but I do not feel as though I am missing it all.

The nursery are helping me, we are a team. I am asking them questions and they are giving me advice. At first I was afraid they thought I was a bad mother for not having all the answers but I am just learning this stuff, they have been doing it for years, they are the experts and have seen it all before. Whilst I do believe that Mum’s know best for their babies, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need support from time to time. Just like me and my husband are; me and the nursery are a team taking care of little William so we share information and knowledge. They have really helped me out with the weaning.

It feels like I never left the office. Those six months almost feel like a very special dream. I am back at my desk, speaking to clients just like I did before William arrived. My life, my world and I have changed so much but my job hasn’t. I have taken some comfort in that. I can still do it and I am still good at it.

I have enjoyed listening to my colleagues. I have been wrapped up in a baby bubble and maybe become a little self indulgent but I am now appreciating being back in the office and listening and learning from my team. It changed my perspective. I have worked in recruitment for 10 years, so I sit behind or inside our website, advertising mediums and processes looking at everything we do from a recruiter perspective.

Whilst we aim to be fresh, appeal to our target audience and differentiate ourselves from our competitors I very infrequently position myself as a jobseeker and walk through the actions of someone searching for a new job. Coming away from the office hub made me do this. I didn’t know what jobs were coming in daily, what our clients were saying, what the market was doing, I didn’t have any background. I just looked at my agency and my competitors as job seekers do, and the experience was invaluable. Sometimes I think you need to take a step back to make a few leaps forward.

I have become highly organised and I love it! I hadn’t realised how much I like being in control pre. William and that awakening has been life changing. Simple changes such as planning weekly meals before going food shopping and only shopping on certain days, setting out outfits the day ahead, making a daily jobs list and setting realistic to-do lists for the weekend. I love spending time with my baby boy and being organised is meaning that I can make the most of that precious time.

I’m present at whatever I’m doing. Whether I am being mummy, wife, business partner, manager or friend I try to fully engage in that role. When I try and multitask I tend to loose focus and become less effective.

I LOVE my weekends with my family. Its quality, precious time and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

I’ve learnt to say No. By nature I am a people pleaser often doing things because it suited others or it was easier to say ‘Yes’. I am still ‘in training’ at this but ultimately I am the boss of me so should control where I direct my time, attention and love. Lets see what the next six months have in store. It’s all incredibly exciting.