I was asked by a friend to provide a piece on returning to work for our local NCT (National Childbirth Trust) newsletter which I thought I’d share with you…
My daughter, Romy, just turned eight months earlier this month. She’s at such a special age! Not yet moving but sitting up and playing, laughing, trying to talk – talking in fact (If “dadadadada” counts which I absolutely think it should)! It’s crazy to think how quickly the months have gone by and that I’ll be returning to work in ten weeks time!
I’ve always been very career minded and just before going off on maternity leave, I was lucky enough to secure my dream job – lecturer in fashion management at Robert Gordon University. Well, I suppose it was a combination of good luck and hard work (after all completing a masters degree whilst working full time is no mean feat).
I’m lucky my job is flexible with opportunities to consolidate working hours and work at home around my teaching commitments. My partner works shifts and so Romy will only be in nursery two days a week.
But still it is with mixed emotions that I’ll return to work.
First, there’s guilt. Will I miss out on key milestones? Will Romy grow to resent me for not being there every day? After all we’ve pretty much spent 24 hours a day together since she was born. What if she misses me? Or, worse still, what if she doesn’t miss me?!
At times it seems I’m surrounded by mothers who are either staying at home or returning to work part-time; is it just my imagination that some of them look at me with a shocked expression when I say I’ll be returning full-time before my baby’s a year old?
Next, there’s worry. Will I be able to continue breastfeeding? What if she doesn’t eat enough? What if she won’t nap?
Stress. Because there just isn’t enough hours in the day. How will I fit everything in?
However there’s also excitement. Excitement at getting a little bit of my old life back, going back to a job I love, taking on new challenges, seeing more of my work colleagues and friends, finishing a coffee before it gets cold! Does this make me a bad mother?
I don’t think any mum returns to work without feeling guilt and sadness. Standard maternity leave is nine months and so our babies are just turning into little people when suddenly we have to leave them! And it probably doesn’t matter when you do it, it’s always going to be hard! Without sounding too cliché, it’s like leaving a huge part of your heart at home when you walk out the door.
But I’ve decided that my returning to work will be good for Romy. She’ll learn valuable communication skills at nursery and enjoy spending some quality one-on-one time with her dad! I’ve decided to take her swimming every week on one of my three days off and the other days we’ll visit friends and family and plan other fun activities. After all, my own mum returned to work when I was a few months old and I have never resented her for it! We have a great relationship and – as she said to me during one of my weaker more tearful moments – it’s quality, not quantity, that counts!