I never stopped to imagine being a parent. I was happy bustling through life, focussing on my career, holidays, family and social life (well, until lockdown happened anyway). I remember telling my boss that I was pregnant and the exact expression on his face of both shock and genuine happiness for me in equal measure. Throughout our conversations while I was pregnant I was adamant I would only take 4 months of maternity leave, keen to get back to work asap. The thought of not working daunted me – not having a daily routine, not being in regular contact with my colleagues, etc… that was until I held my beautiful baby and fell completely in love with her.
The initial 4 months turned into me taking the full 12 months off to spend time with my daughter, a decision I’m so pleased I made and also a decision that was fully supported by LAT. But as much as I loved my new role as a mum, I was still keen to work. As we decided not to find a replacement for my position while I was on mat leave, I did a keep in touch day once a month (almost) to keep updated with changes across the organisation, catch-up with my team and help wherever I could. These days gave me a sense of being a ‘human’, i.e wearing proper clothes, adult conversation and hot cups of coffee.
At this point, I need to say how INCREDIBLE my team was in my absence. They kept the entire recruitment function going across our entire organisation, stepped up to cover my management responsibilities whilst continuing to do their own jobs too. LAT would be lost without them, as would I. They are some of the most resilient and tenacious people I’ve worked with in my career so far, so cheers to you, Elene, Holly, Charlotte and Rachel!
Getting back into the work headspace was hard, really hard. I lost my confidence and almost felt like I was starting from scratch again – something I know I’m not alone in feeling. Baby brain is a REAL THING and I think I have long lasting effects; I certainly find it harder to concentrate than I did pre-baby given that thoughts of my little human now pop into my head at random times. Plus, the regular updates on the nursery app are great, but certainly not conducive to focussing on work tasks. I’ve been ‘that parent’ who got half way to work and realised I hadn’t dropped my daughter off at nursery yet having caught a glimpse at her smiley little face in the rear view mirror, so had to turn round on the A2 to get her back there. I’m not sure a toddler rampaging our HR office would go down well?! I also pull out various baby paraphernalia from coat pockets and my handbag including dummies, countless socks and hair clips.
That said, there are positive effects that I’m experiencing too – I’d say I’m calmer and more rational since becoming a mum (although my colleagues may disagree!) I make better use of my time at work now and am typically more methodical, given that I have a new appreciation for the concept of time. I also place even more value on my job and feel like I’m enjoying it more than I ever have before; it’s keeping me sane and my brain ticking! I felt hugely supported returning to work at LAT and genuinely enjoy talking to my peers about parent-life through this new perspective of mine.
So to all the working parents out there, the organisations who truly understand their employees who have the huge responsibility of raising a family as well as a job, and to colleagues out there who support members of their team when they need to work from home when their little one is poorly… I have the utmost respect for you.