The new normal: my return from maternity leave
Zone’s Sophie Bliss found the return from maternity leave after her first child heartbreaking, exciting and terrifying in equal measure. Here, she discusses how her return to work after her second has felt almost normal…
The pandemic has been strange for all of us and for those with small humans it has been strange for them too. With nurseries closing, partners sharing the load and trying to do a good job at work, I’m sure we all felt close to breaking point at various times over the past two years! But coming back from maternity leave this time during the whole situation has strangely made things easier.
I had two months of ‘normality’ in the office at the start of 2020. I got to see friends and have coffee somewhere that wasn’t my kitchen — it was all very exciting and, if I’m honest, a tad overwhelming. Then we were all working from home trying to navigate a pandemic alongside our clients. I got pregnant, had a baby, took 10 months’ leave and have come back to… much the same! We are still navigating a pandemic alongside our clients and we are still figuring the whole thing out. It’s all (selfishly) quite reassuring in a way. We are all still human.
Over endless video calls, we have seen each other’s pets, children, bedrooms and crockery and all had to duck out of meetings for doorbells, tantrums or power cuts. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the top or the bottom of the professional ladder, a client or a colleague, we have all seen each other in a completely new light in the workplace and I for one am relieved that viewpoint hasn’t changed.
It is such a relief to ease back into a culture where we are all humans together. There is no suit-wearing machismo in meetings, travelling three hours for a 10-minute face-to-face meeting or unnecessary shouty hard deadlines. People are treating each other as human beings and not resources, looking at each individual’s personal situation and flexing accordingly.
Although I can appreciate that some people do miss the office culture and I do crave a good post-work drink, returning from maternity leave this time around has felt relatively easy. A few virtual coffees and nursery pick-ups later and I am enjoying the new normal.
I am by no means the font of all knowledge, but here are a few things I’ve picked up this time around for returning mums, especially when working remotely:
- Book in a few virtual coffees with colleagues who you class as friends on your first day back, just to have a natter
- If you don’t have a team yet, make sure you join a team meeting — any team. You don’t need to contribute but it’s just nice to see other faces and hear what’s going on
- Don’t feel guilty if you do a few household chores in between your work. You’re not the only one and if you are getting your work done, it doesn’t matter if you do a load of washing
- Sit and listen to the quiet house…. Yes. This is your house. With no one in it. Breathe and enjoy.