My return to work story

Working from a cafe

I made the mistake of assuming Leo would arrive late as he was my first and my mum had had me late so I just thought I would go around 10 days past my due date of 28th August 2017. I started my maternity leave on the Monday and went into labour 4:30am Tuesday morning! Leo arrived 3:02pm on the Wednesday 23rd August.

So I decided not to rush back to work, and luckily my manager was supportive of my approach of giving a rough return time-frame of March 2018 but no set date. I work for Skype in the Classroom managing the website and liaising with our partners. I have worked remotely for over 3 years and though it can be challenging at times not having in-person colleagues around, I did love the flexibility and had set up a nice routine for myself involving gym and yoga and social meet-ups in our pre-baby life in Wimbledon.

The photo the childminder sent me on his first full day

The photo the childminder sent me on his first full day

We travelled to Australia for a close friend’s wedding at the end of February and arrived back on March 13th, so allowing time to get over the jet lag and for Leo to settle in with the childminder, we set on 26th March as my first day back.

I felt really strange logging in and thinking about something else, about Leo being with someone else, about the house being SO QUIET! I didn’t feel crazy separation anxiety, but I did find myself constantly thinking about him and wondering how he was. Luckily the childminder send me some pictures of Leo happily playing to reassure me.

She had a folder as thick as a brick stuffed full of references and shining testimonials, and OFSTED rating of excellent, so I knew he was in good hands. But it was SO HARD to focus properly on work… to really think things through as my brain had got so used to surviving day to day… feeding, nappies, baby classes, and my own health and recovery. How could I switch to thinking about spreadsheets, numbers, website strategy? Would I get enough sleep to be able to work? How would my husband Nick support me? Since before then I’d been doing the lion’s share of looking after Leo- would he be able to step in more… he was also very busy at work having just switched roles (not through choice).

Looking back now, I am so glad and thankful I was able to start at 2 days a week and gradually increase as I felt ready to, and if I had a bad week with lack of sleep, I was able to fit work in on the better days and take a nap if I really needed to. I can’t imagine going back to commuting and dealing with London rush hour. I also still felt quite fragile and not quite myself- I was getting there but I wasn’t fitting into my old clothes yet and was still wearing maternity trousers. Not that it affected my ability to work, but it did affect my own self-identity and I was so glad I didn’t have to go into an office and have people see me at a bigger size.