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Back to work after parental leave!

Nappies- check- wipes-check- toys-check- snacks-check!

Half an hour later I am ready to finally get out of the house. Oh dear no I am not, a nappy explosion means back upstairs to change the nappy and yet again we are late for our plans!

It’s hard to believe I used to function as a normal human being, grab a handbag, get in the car and start my day within minutes! But the instantaneous life change in becoming a mum comes with its own sets of challenges, whilst doing the most remarkable role you will ever experience.

However, just as you get settled into your role and your baby becomes even easier, the biggest challenge is faced and your life becomes the strongest cocktail that takes a while to get down! (Although being a lover of cocktails I managed to order another one a year later!)

As I set the alarm on my phone, I realised I have not needed technology for over a whole year to wake you up. Would I hear a buzzing sound when all I have heard is crying or chatting as a reminder that morning has begun!?

Boom! A shock awakening and I was up and showering ready for the day ahead. Putting on my work clothes was surreal and getting ready before the kids were even awake was a new concept!

Dressed and ready to face the world, I realised I still had to get the kids up and feed the baby her first bottle. As I was feeding her milk, a strange longing in my stomach started to rise, it felt like the last supper; on one hand, I knew I was being completely overdramatic but there was the weaker part of me that just wanted to break down on the floor in floods of tears. In a weird way it felt like a punishment, being separated from my baby and being taken away from the bubble of the world we had created for the last year.

As I closed the door and got into my car, my heartfelt broken. I don’t think I knew what heartache felt like, (we think we do when we get dumped by a boyfriend at 18), but there is no other heart-wrenching feeling where you feel a part of you has gone and you are separated from the most important achievements of your life.

When entering work it was like the two contrasting worlds I had lived were merging and as I sat down and was greeted so welcoming by colleagues the heartache started to ease. I poured myself a hot cup of tea and drank it whilst having my own thoughts. I didn’t even need to clear up after someone or serve yet another snack!

I was thrown into work rapidly and I felt nervous - nervous that I couldn’t complete the tasks I used to be able to! Whilst It felt good to be me again I felt scared and almost had forgotten what life was like before. The bubble of motherhood felt safe and a familiar world where I was good at something else and now I felt useless all over again.

The first day ended and the smiles and greetings once home showed me that they could survive without me. But the stranger I had been feeling at work just wouldn’t leave my mind.

The second day was easier than the first. Leaving the house was a whole new experience. But I still had the feeling of dread. I felt I had nothing to talk to my colleagues about- they didn’t heed to know how much milk my baby had drank or the colour of their nappy!

By the second day, my line manager had almost forgotten I had been away- there was no empathy at all and I felt embarrassed to mention that I couldn’t find the right words to form a simple email. I felt I needed a new employee induction again. It was hard to cement my words into a conversation.

The doubts of being able to conduct simple roles became easier over time but I did feel completely unsupported at work and at times I felt like resigning as I felt alien in my surroundings.

There needs to be more support for retuning parents so employees returning can have an easier transition. A year off is different to two days sick leave and this needs to be addressed.

Working parents should have healthy work like balance and should be able to be both productive at work whilst being an equally amazing parent.

As a good friend recently said to me, being successful at work shows my two little girls that women can have a successful career and achieve what they want to. I want them to grow up in a post-feminist world and show them both that mummies can have a good job and still be a great mum! I mean how long can you watch Loose Women and Jeremy Kyle for?!

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