Your return to work: Audrey

Every month I publish a guest post from a mum who has been through returning to the workplace after maternity leave. We all have individual experiences, situations, ambitions and so on. There is no one way or right way, just what is best for you and your family. I hope by sharing a range of stories there will be something that mums on maternity leave and thinking about their return to work can relate to.
This post is written by Audrey who works in a fast-growing organisation in a role that supports talent management. As a coach, she empowers professionals to live each day in their truth. Audrey tends to work with professionals seeking balance, clarity, or purpose as they make big, bold decisions.

Question 1. How did you feel about your return to work in the lead up to it?

After baby #1 I was more anxious about getting into a routine so my son and I would be ready for the big transition. My maternity leave just didn’t feel like enough time to leave him alone but thankfully he started sleeping longer during the nights and was a happy eater so, in retrospect, he really helped me out (although I didn’t realize it back then)! After baby #2, my main concern was that my daughter wasn’t loving the bottle so I was worried she’d starve without me! She didn’t. After weeks of stressful bottle-feeding experiments, she figured things out as transitioned back to work. It felt like such a big deal back then but I barely remember it now which has taught me that there are so many phases to motherhood that both the good and bad bits pass by quickly.


Question 2. What were the biggest challenges or worries that you had about your return to work?

The biggest challenge was pumping at work. We had a make-shift space for nursing moms in my office (proud to say we’ve upgraded it) but there wasn’t a space in all our offices so I found myself pumping in the server room a few times on one work trip with some male colleagues walking in and out (aaargh!). Pumping is generally just a lot of work with lots of things to remember and by the time I stopped, it was like a huge sigh of relief.

Equally challenging was needing to work my same hours and deliver quality work product while operating on fewer hours of sleep. My organisation has since introduced a new policy that allows an extra hour each day for new moms to be with their babies but back in the day, I just had to get right back in there.


Question 3. Is there anything that would have helped your transition back to the workplace?

Longer maternity leave! 6 months feels like a good minimum for all new moms around the world 🙂 I had a lot of colleagues who didn’t have kids so our organisation was still catching up to the needs of working parents. A little more space in the day to be a new mom (pumping felt like a full-time job on its own) and more appropriate nursing rooms would have helped (although it’s better now). I love routines and they work really well for me but I realize now that sticking to them during such an unpredictable time added unnecessary stress, so I’d have been a little easier on myself.


Question 4. What tips would you give to other mums who are currently on maternity leave and preparing for their return to work?

a) The transition back to work is both an art and a science. Although you can control some things, other things you’ll have to try out to see what works for you. Do the best you can with what you have.

b) Avoid comparing your transition back to work to other moms. Learning from others is great but don’t let it stress you out.

c) There are days when you’ll feel like you aren’t doing well enough at home or at work. Release the guilt when you need to focus a little more on one aspect of your life over another on any given day. It happens and it’s ok.

d) Decide what your non-negotiables are and focus on them. Don’t try to do it all otherwise you’ll burn out. Your non-negotiables will help you define your boundaries and your boundaries impact your actions. Is getting home at a certain time important? Do you prefer to switch over to formula to minimize the pressure on you to pump? Do you want to fight for a more suitable work environment?


A bit more about Audrey…

I am energized by the relationships I build but I’ve chosen to keep my circle small. I am naturally curious and a talker so I’ve always labeled myself as an extrovert. I realize now that I’m an ambivert, drawing energy from social settings and also from time on my own. I value fairness and equity above all else and truly appreciate quality. Quality service, quality products, quality experiences, and quality time.

I am an adventurer, having lived in 6 countries on 3 continents. I have worked within a big corporate company and also in the start-up development space. I have embraced marriage and motherhood with the sense of humour and grateful heart that they deserve.

Thank you so much Audrey!

I hope you found reading about Audrey’s experience helpful. If you are on maternity leave and would like to return to work with confidence, you can get my free guide with some top tips so you can prepare yourself.
All the best,
PS. Do you know a mumma who might find this post helpful? Why not share it with her now.

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