Sometimes maternity leave gives you a chance to think about your career and take stock of what you want to do in life. This week’s working mum had 10 months off work, and realised that she really enjoyed her job.
Please introduce yourself…
Hi, I’m Kim I’m 29 and I live in South Yorkshire with my 2-year-old daughter, who I refer to as Ragamuffin in all my blog posts, and my Maths teacher husband.
We try to spend as much time outside as possible, on weekends you’ll generally find us visiting a farm, at a park or, on child-free days, geocaching. I also blog at Raising A Ragamuffin.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a Software Engineer. I work for a software company where, as part of a team, I develop and maintain a leading primary care system used within the UK.
How many hours do you work?
I work 30 hours a week over 4 days. Wednesday is my day off which gives both me and my daughter a chance to re-charge our batteries during the week before the final push towards the weekend.
Who looks after your daughter while you work?
My daughter goes to nursery while I’m at work. We considered using a childminder but nursery suits us better.
Are you in the same job before you went on maternity leave?
Yes. I’ve worked for the same company since I graduated university in 2011.
Did you return to work on the same hours?
Before maternity leave, I worked 37.5 hours a week Monday to Friday. When I returned to work I requested to reduce my working week to 4 days which made me feel more at ease about returning to work.
Generally, my employer is quite relaxed; if my daughter is ill they have no problem with me taking time off at short notice, which is great because my husband (a teacher) can only take time off work during term time under exceptional circumstances.
How long was your maternity leave?
My maternity leave lasted 10 months. An added bonus from having this extended break from work was that it gave me time to reflect on my career.
Before I left to have my daughter, I thought my career was heading towards project management however, the time I spent away from writing software made me realise that I’m not ready to leave software development anytime soon.
How did you feel about returning to work?
I was nervous about my daughter settling in at nursery. She has always been an in-touch napper and I was worried about whether she would nap alone at nursery.
When the time came I felt ready to go back to work, ready to regain my identity as Kim, not just ‘mummy’. Up until my first day back at work, apart from the odd hour, I’d not spent a great deal of time away from my daughter, and as a result that first day back felt so liberating.
What do you find the hardest about being a working mum?
For me, the hardest thing is coping with the guilt that my daughter spends most of her time with strangers. Don’t get me wrong, she has flourished at nursery and really enjoys it, but there’s always that voice in the back of my head saying that she should be with me.
What are your favourite things about being a working mum?
I think I’m setting a good example to my daughter in showing her that women can have both a career and a family. I might not excel in both those areas of my life simultaneously but I give it a good go.
Being a working mum also means that we can afford luxuries like days out, overnight trips and swimming lessons. These were the kinds of things that my own parents had to scrimp and save for when I was a child.
Do you have any tips for other working mums or mums thinking about returning to work after maternity leave?
Exercise your right to request flexible working; it can be a big help in achieving a work-life balance to suit you.
Planning ahead is key. I write any important dates and appointments on a calendar which is hung in the living room where I can see it. I also plan the week’s meals ahead of time and often batch cook meals from scratch to make sure that we all get good nutritious food when short of time during the week.