Today I have been back in work full time for one whole year after taking twelve months maternity leave, seven weeks holiday and three months sick leave prior to giving birth. It was a long time to away from the workplace and rightly so, this time last year I was petrified about coming back.
Not only was I returning to work after such a considerable amount of time off, I was also returning to a new branch with people I had never met before. How would they react to having a new manager? How would I react to being away from my baby for 41 hours a week? It was a daunting final months before the D-day of May 4th 2017.
I can happily say, one year on, that I’ve had one of the best working years of my career. The past year has gone by so quickly which I put down to a mixture of constantly being busy either working or ‘Mumming’ and having the nicest colleagues that I’ve worked with for years, making each day enjoyable and fun.
It’s not been without its struggles though. I’ve had to take more time off over the past year than I have taken off in my whole working life. Dexter cut his lip open in June last year which required surgery and meant a couple of days away from the branch. He had a few loose nappies which meant days away from childcare that I couldn’t otherwise cover and in October my Dad was rushed to hospital for an emergency surgery after suffering a life threatening bowel perforation.
However, thanks to the support of my colleagues and line manager, I’ve been able to take all of this in my stride and have known that no matter what happens they have my back.
We’ve been the most successful branch in our area with regard to certain targets and number two in a pretty huge region which I’m incredibly proud of. I returned to a branch which was performing averagely, saw the potential of what could be achieved and with the help of my colleagues grown it to a branch who has achieved or exceeded every target. That has been so rewarding and a pleasure to prove that just because you have kids doesn’t mean you take your eye off your career. I think I’ve proved a lot of people wrong over the past twelve months.
Has it been hard leaving Dexter everyday? Honestly, no. He goes to a fabulous childminder who takes him out everyday and does fantastic activities with him. He loves being there and has thrived over the past seven months. Being back at work has given me the chance to remember who I was before I had Dexter and I love being that person who is the complete opposite to who I am in real life!
Although I line manage everyone in my branch, I have made some real positive connections and really feel that when it’s time for me to move on that we will remain friends for years to come. It sounds really cheesy but it’s 100% down to the people I’ve been working alongside that have made this past year the best of my career.
Another thing I am really proud of is my commitment to the blog and how it has continued to flourish and grow despite me working 41 hours a week. There have been periods where I’ve been very quiet and I’ve not always been able to do everything that running a blog requires such as constant promotion and several social media posts each day, but I’ve made it work and been glad to make a little bit of money while doing so.
So to those of you who are fearful about returning to work after maternity, embrace the fear, but remember that work gives you so much more than you get from being at home. You can socialise and have adult conversation; you get a whole hour to yourself at lunch everyday when you can eat in peace and above all you start to feel like you again instead of just Mama.
I’m so excited to see what the next twelve months bring. A new branch? Maternity leave? A promotion? Who knows, the options are endless.