Returning to work after maternity leave, Part I

Do you ever wonder if your desk will still be there after your maternity leave? Do you worry that the dynamics of the working environment have changed whilst you’ve been away? Do you wonder how mum life will fit in with work life? Have you ever thought about changing your career whilst on maternity leave? All of these thoughts went through my head.

I fell pregnant with our daughter whilst I was working in Events Management. I had worked in that particular job for seven years and I thought a lot whilst I was pregnant about returning to work. The hours were usually long, and very often included evenings and weekends. I thought about going back weekends only, but as my husband worked Monday – Friday , weekends would be our family time.

Whilst I was on maternity leave I looked into changing my career path. I loved organising events but not the hours. I also thought about working in a care environment, after spending so much time in hospital before our daughter was born.

I was due to return to work in September, so started looking for jobs in May to give me time to find a job, apply and start before my maternity pay stopped! If I didn’t find a job, it was my plan to return to events until I did find something.

I came across a job that combined organising events and working in a care environment- an activities coordinator in a care home.

I applied and got the job straight away. Very unexpected, I wasn’t ready to leave our 6 month old daughter, so much to think about and only a few weeks to think about it before starting a new job:

I’d have to arrange childcare
Think about expressing breast milk to leave for her as she was only just starting to ween
Establish a new routine for work day mornings
Say goodbye to some of the groups we went to on my work days

Had I done the right thing? What if it didn’t work out? Would the pay be enough to live on? (I took quite a big pay drop, partly due to starting at the bottom of the ladder, and partly as I was only working 16 hours)

I am pleased to say, I absolutely loved working with the old folk in the care home. I would arrange trips out to the cinema (dementia friendly screenings – The Light Cinema), we would go for ice-cream, and so many indoor activities too. Bingo and quiz’s were particular favourites!

It was the perfect work-life balance that I was looking for. I made some great friends with the other staff, I had (a bit) of my own money, and I knew our daughter would be enjoying a day each week with each grandparent (my mum one day a week, my mother in law on another). I looked forward to finding out each day what she had been up to, the hugs and kisses were amazing.

So, go for it! Take the jump, as Gary Barlow sings:

If the thought is terrifying
The risk is really frightening
And your only fear is falling
You should leave without a warning and
Jump, fly
Let your feet leave the ground, step into the sky and
Jump, high

Big love, JB xxx

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