For 10 years I worked and played hard working in advertising in London. I loved working on high profile projects for big brands, with crazy deadlines and socialising after work in the many bars and pubs around Borough Market.
My job was hard work and I built a career in advertising rising up the ranks in Project Management to Senior Project Manager. It’s a tough industry and I saw many of my Mum colleagues struggle with their careers and jobs once they returned after having a baby.
So when I left to go on maternity leave I knew I wanted to return to work. I knew it would be hard and that the hours would be long. However I needed to do it, because when my maternity leave started I was really happy in my role.
……Fast forward 12 months and a one year old later….
When I returned to work I eased myself back into my old role having a few KIT days and starting back officially on the day of the referendum announcement – double doom and gloom! I went back into the agency working for a new, tougher and more challenging client. I think I must have been kidding myself that I thought I would just fit back in.
It was far from that. My head was a mess of tiredness and baby brain fog. I couldn’t think properly, or make decisions quick enough. And, it took a long time for that fog to clear.
Coupled with that my daughter managed to pick up every bug known to man in her first few weeks of nursery including tonsilitis, conjunctivitis and hand, foot and mouth. So returning to work didn’t get off to the best start, especially when I was trying to prove myself but having to dash off to collect our daughter early from nursery or spend days at home when she couldn’t go to nursery.
I think that the early weeks really knocked my confidence. I knew that I wasn’t performing as well as I should have been. That became apparent after being taken aside a couple of times to be told that I wasn’t managing expectations and the team were not sure about my ability. As you can imagine that made me feel like utter s**t.
I felt the support for working Mums was not there. The promised mentor and support that was talked about before I went on maternity leave, never materialised on my return. No one ever asked how I was, how I was finding being back at work, and how I was managing work and looking after a child.
So yet again I put in my all to prove myself, by working the long hours including the weekend and on my day off. Life became a bit of a nightmare I was working really long hours on 80% of my full pay, with very little value or appreciation.
It was only when I discussed with my boss my future and career objectives, I knew deep down that this planned progression was not want I wanted. After a tearful conversation with my husband that evening I made the decision to leave my job after 10 years.
Handing in my notice was such a relief and a weight off my shoulders. Although working 3 months notice was hard. I was really sad to leave, and I’m not saying I would never return to the advertising industry, but for now I’m hanging up my shoes in that field.
I’m not saying it’s like this for all Mums in the industry, but to make it work far more support is needed and I hope that this has changed since I left. It’s bloody hard work returning back to work after having baby, your entire life and priorities have changed.
I don’t see my 10 months back at work as a failure, it’s far from that, it made me realise that it wasn’t for me and instead I needed to find something that was more flexible around my children which is why I did the Digital Mums course. So now I’m working from home running this blog and working for two clients. The juggle is still there, but not as much as it was. All the deadlines are my deadlines, and not someone else’s. So the only pressure is from me.
I would love to hear about your experience of returning to work after maternity leave?