Having studied at uni for 9 long years straight that included an undergraduate and then a masters, there was no way I was going to stop my career for anything let alone a baby! I was far too important to stop, and at the time was not prepared to listen to anyone who was telling me otherwise.
At 32 when I fell pregnant with my first child not only did I hide the fact I was pregnant until I couldn’t any longer, but I told my boss I would be back at work within 6 months, due to fear I brought upon myself that I would fail at and stall my career if I took any more time off.
It wasn’t until I had my first baby James (June 2011) that I realised how disillusioned I really was, and what a gift it was to not only have a child but be able to care for them with 100% devotion at least the first year, and how work just stays the same and the only thing that really changes is you, and for the better.
So, I thought I would share a few things for those of you are worried about your work and your job, to reassure you, that if you are not allowed this time away, you are probably not working for the right organisation anyway, or its most likely in your “head” which is surely was for me. I can assure you that whilst daunting there is light at the end of the tunnel, and not only will you have the time away that you deserve, you will change as a person, for the better.
PS I did end up going back to work, not full-time, part-time after 6 months, as I suffered a little bit of FOMO, and I felt I was losing a lit bit of sense of my self. Everyone’s different, the key thing is that the choice and decision is yours, no one else.
Here are a few things about me that changed.
- Whilst I was tired (very) at the beginning, I adjusted and learnt to work on empty and in fact I was more alert and “on” than ever. I got shit done quicker, because I wanted to get home to my baby.
- I started sleeping a lot earlier, as soon as baby was down, I was pretty much down too, which made me a morning person and I started to get more done in the morning than at night. That has continued, sort of!
- I say no to more things, or manage my time better – helps to set expectations. As a result of this, people / my boss etc actually give me more work to do, as they know I will get it done, but in a time frame that is achievable and manageable, by me.
- My patience and tolerance for late people, colleagues and clients, is a million miles higher, which makes me much nicer and more accepting to be around.
- I now take a very keen interest in my colleagues, staff and peers, their home life and kids, developing stronger personal relationships at work.
- I appreciate my job and the people I work with, including their differences, things I would usually hate etc.
- I am far more organised and structured at work and at home, keep a calendar for home (paper) and my diary through Outlook for work, without them both I am lost.
One thing I am still working on and continue to struggle with but am getting so much better, is when I am home, being at home, 100% on the kids, husband etc. At the beginning I used to try send emails, take calls whilst being at home. I have many war stories of locking the kids in the house (where I could still see them) so I could take a work call. I even remember doing a radio interview once and I could see them both at the window bawling their eyes out 😦 This does not work for you, your work or your kids. So, when I am at home, I must remember to be at home.