This week’s Interview With A Working Mum features Jo from Pickle and Poppet. Jo is talking about returning to work after maternity leave, and the mum guilt when you miss your kids’ firsts.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hi, I’m Jo. I’m in my thirties and can definitely confirm that the 30’s are the best years!
I’m wife to Sam and Mummy to Reuben who is 4 (almost) and Jessica who is 1. We also have Lola who is our very lovely cat.
What do you do for a living?
I work as a Commercial Insurance Account Handler.
How many hours a week do you work?
I work 29 hours over 4 days and have Thursdays off work. Monday and Wednesday are my long days where I work 9-6, the other days I work 9-3. When Reuben goes to school I hope to change my hours so I’m back to five days a week and shorter days.
Who looks after your children while you work?
Both children are in nursery/preschool and then on my long days, my mum picks them up at 3:30.
Are you in the same job before you went on maternity leave?
Yes, I have gone back into the same job and role. They had a temporary staff member whilst I was away but I knew that the job was being kept for me to return.
Did you return to work on the same hours?
I had to adjust my hours to be able to afford to go back to work. Originally I had agreed I would stay on the same pattern. Closer to my return a few things changed and so that meant I had to re-evaluate the cost of childcare. On my old pattern, it wasn’t affordable. I worked out a way that would work and then approached my work. I was hopeful that they would accept but worried as it was only 3 weeks until my start date. I’m lucky that they were so accommodating and agreed. If they hadn’t I don’t think I would be working today.
How long was your maternity leave?
I took the paid Maternity leave and returned after 9 months.
How did you feel about returning to work?
Mixed emotions on returning. I was looking forward to returning to work. To use my brain, to think. To escape Mr Bloom on CBeebies! You know the normal parenting grumbles.
I was dreading leaving Jessica even though I knew she would be OK. She is so independent already, much more than Reuben was.
But guilt was the biggest feeling. Guilty about returning, guilty about looking forward to returning. I was feeling guilty about pretty much everything and spent the last week of my maternity leave bursting into tears.
What do you find the hardest about being a working mum?
Juggling everything. Sam has a commute and so he doesn’t get home until the children are going to bed. It means that in the week I have to juggle lots of plates, I find that I am exhausted and don’t stop until pretty much bedtime.
I also found it really difficult if I was told that they had done one of their ‘firsts’ and I hadn’t been the one to see it. I had to ask people to stop telling me, most stopped but some didn’t. That was hard.
What are your favourite things about being a working mum?
I appreciate the time with my children much more. I try to be less shouty and use my phone less. When I was on maternity leave I found that I would get shouty over silly things, it would escalate quickly. I take a step back more now before launching into shouty mum mode.
I also love the hugs and kisses I get when I see the children again after a day at work.
Do you have any tips for other working mums?
Don’t feel guilty. You are doing what is right for you and your family.
Don’t panic about your children they are more resilient than we give them credit for and more often then not they handle it better than we do. Talk about your fears with the people looking after your children and call them if you’re worried.