Returning to work when you still have a baby is so hard, you feel as though you’re missing out on so much. But when your hours mean they’re in bed when you get home it can be really hard as this week’s working mum has found out.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hi, I’m Nicola! I’m a 31 year old first time Mum to Dexter and we live in Liverpool along with my husband, Neil. I blog over at Mummy to Dex and have done so for a year now. I started blogging as a way to pass the time while the baby slept and somehow managed to keep it up despite my return to work earlier this year.
What do you do for a living?
I am a branch manager for Post Office. As well as being in charge of running the branch, I am effectively a sales manager, so I am coaching and supporting my staff all day as well as making sure the branch is running smoothly and efficiently.
How many hours a week do you work?
I work 41 hours a week (although this includes my lunch hours). I work Monday-Saturday, taking Wednesdays off. Saturday is only a half day until 12.30 which is a bonus. In my old branch, we were open until 4pm!
Who looks after your son while you work?
When I first returned to work, my mother in law kindly had him, but from September he will be going to a childminder. I am so excited about this because the childminder I have chosen takes the kids out every day which I think is so important for their development. I think it will be great for Dex to be around other children and am really looking forward to getting into a new routine.
Are you in the same job before you went on maternity leave?
It is indeed the same job that I had before maternity leave.
Did you return to work on the same hours?
I returned on exactly the same hours. I had wanted to reduce my hours initially by four or five, but decided to see how things went sticking to the 41 hours temporarily. I’m pleased to say that it is working so far. My employer also allowed me to move branch. Before maternity leave I was commuting for 2-3 hours a day, depending on traffic to a branch that was over 30 miles away from my home. I am now in a branch that is 13 miles away and the commute is a much more manageable 1.5-2hrs a day.
How long was your maternity leave?
I was off for a total of 16 months after factoring in sick leave due to SPD, 12 months maternity, annual leave and bank holidays. It is a very long time to be away from the workplace, however after a couple of days of being back, it was as if I had never been away.
How did you feel about returning to work?
I was petrified about returning to work and had no idea how I was going to cope. It didn’t help that I had no idea where I would be located until two weeks before I actually returned. It was a fear of the unknown more than anything else. I returned to a branch I hadn’t worked in previously and I was nervous about that. Would I get along with the staff? What would the customers be like? I’ve worked in some pretty horrible branches in the past. I needn’t have worried though! The staff are lovely and the customers are too. I have loved coming back to work and look forward to the challenge of the day ahead.
What do you find the hardest about being a working mum?
Being away from my little boy for so long. Between 6pm Sunday evening and 7am Wednesday morning, I basically don’t see him. I catch myself looking at him sometimes and feeling like I don’t even recognise him because he has changed that much. I also find it tough when he doesn’t sleep through. If I have to get up in the night to soothe him, I find it really difficult to get up the next morning. When he was at my mother in laws, it didn’t matter so much because I could be flexible with starting a bit later if needed, but now he is going to be going to a childminder, I will have to get him up and out of the house on time every day.
What are your favourite things about being a working mum?
I love having my own money again, that was one thing I really struggled with while I was on mat leave. It’s also nice to be Nicola again after 16 months of just being Mama.
Do you have any tips for other mums thinking about returning to work after maternity leave?
It’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be. Make the most of the KIT days your company offers you and ease yourself back in gradually if you can. I delayed my return to work by adding on as much leave as possible, but I think it would have been nicer to phase my return by doing a few weeks part-time first. Embrace it and look at it positively and you will enjoy your return and the added benefits it brings – adult conversation, hot coffee, lunch without being disturbed and the chance to be you again!