Guest post by Gemma from Mummy’s Waisted
Gemma, mum of two, tells us about how she dealt with two bouts of maternity leave in very different ways and how the second maternity leave drastically changed her perspective on working life.
“I have two children, now aged five and three, so have had two bouts of maternity leave. My return to work was a completely different experience each time, even though I was working for the same company.
With my eldest, motherhood was a complete shock to me. I had done lots of preparation for the birth, but not much on what was going to happen after that. In my head, I would be living an idyllic life, lovely and chilled out just with a baby on my hip. In reality, my son was a typical newborn but I was completely unprepared for the life takeover! It took me months to get used to the swing of things, and then teething came along, and then weaning, and crawling. Having been a control freak at work as an accountant, used to being in charge of everything, I was out of my depth.
When my son was eight months I was desperate to go back to work. To have conversations about things other than poo and purees and be able to drink a hot coffee whilst sat down. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, my son didn’t sleep through the night and I was trying to be super-mum. Before children I would easily work a 50 hour week but now I was trying to cram it into ‘normal’ hours.
I worked full time through my second pregnancy and collapsed in a heap when my maternity leave finally started. I was much more relaxed when my daughter was born, I knew what to expect and where the boundaries were. That said, she was very different to my son and an even worse sleeper! I enjoyed my maternity leave a lot more the second time around, not least because I got to spend quality time with the both of them.
When it came time to contemplate going back to work I had a different mindset to my first maternity leave. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to work as effectively as I wanted on so little sleep and that troubled me. I have always had very high expectations of myself at work and I just wouldn’t be capable of keeping to those. Not least because my brain was full of two children to think about, including my son’s impending start at primary school.
Everyone was very accommodating when I did start back in the office doing four days a week. My colleagues were supportive in the most part but the company was implicitly unfriendly to part-time / parent workers. I was always the first to leave (on time I might add) and every single week I got a snide comment about my ‘day off’. My heart just wasn’t in it and more importantly I knew that my dissatisfaction was affecting our home life. I just wasn’t cut out to be a super mum and that was hard to take.
A year after returning from my second maternity leave I made the decision to resign. I had to put my family first and make sure that I was happy, for them and for me. One year on and I’ve had a complete career change from accountant to writer and I couldn’t be happier. I work from home so can be flexible about school and nursery runs, and I can have a duvet day after a bad night’s sleep!”
Gemma is a mum to two children and is a freelance content writer. She blogs as Mummy’s Waisted, which features family life, parenting, gardening and The Busy Mum’s Guide To series about small business concepts. Check out her blog below:
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