Blog: Settling in to my ‘New Normal’
Kate Byford, Deputy CEO
In October 2014 my husband and I welcomed our first child, a little boy called Maxwell (Max). He was 16 days late and an eye watering 9lb 1oz, and has been a wonderful blessing to our family. But I’m not writing to gush about what an amazing little boy he is, we’re talking about making that transition back to the workplace after the baby bubble that is maternity leave.
Before I start, I am by no means claiming that my way is the best way or the only way (people have very strong views about babies and working). Everyone’s situation, needs, wants, jobs, etc are different and I am simply sharing my experience. That’s the disclaimer out of the way; can you tell I’m married to a solicitor?
When I was pregnant I was adamant that I’d return to work, not only did I want to, I had to. People said‘oh you might get the mummy bug and not want to go back’. I got the mummy bug, my child is my world, but part of that world is our family home, and the ‘mummy bug’ doesn’t pay very well.
Maternity leave was a wonderful experience and I do cherish that time I had at home with Max, but after 7 months I was ready to start easing myself back in to work. I missed the buzz of the office and exercising my brain beyond the Baby Sensory class or Baby TV – if I have to ‘say hello to the sun’ one more time…. (Anyone who has been to baby sensory will understand. That &@€#^% song still haunts me).
…Was I anxious about leaving my little ‘un at such a young age? Yes.
…Were there some tears? Oh yes!
…Did I Google it and make myself feel horrendously guilty reading other people’s comments? Yes, I don’t advise it!
I had fairly clear ideas about how and when I wanted to return to work, and Chris (Bird) and I started discussing it when I was still pregnant. So thankfully I didn’t have to face submitting a formal application/request for flexible hours that I saw so many of my new Mummy friends grapple with. Chris and I have talked openly from the beginning so that made things a lot easier – I hope for him too.
We agreed that I would work the first hour of the day from home, and get to the office for 10am rather than 9am. This gives my parents time to get over and miss the rush hour (travelling from Formby 2 days a week). The whole set up has been brilliant, and so far (3 months in) I’ve not had a stressful morning and there haven’t been any more tears (from either of us). How many new working mums can say that?
With the support of Chris and the team at Bird I have gradually increased my days in the office; 2, then 3, then 4, and from next week (August) I will start back full time, a whole 5 days a week. The gradual return and flexible mornings have been invaluable. I’m able to spend precious time with my little monster everyday, whilst being able to get back to the job I love.
Only time will tell how I find 5 days a week, but Max is thriving at nursery and I know that I have the support of Chris and the team at Bird, as well as my husband, parents and mother in law. I am one very lucky working mummy.
…Oh and did I mention that I got promoted to Deputy Chief Executive whilst on Maternity Leave.