PARENTING | Maternity Leave Revelations
It’s OK to go back to work & it’s OK to not be a mum boss
SHOUT OUT to mums who work full time, mums who work part-time, mums who stay at home, mums who run a business from home, mums who run a business from outside the home, mums with kids in a nursery, mums with kids who have a childminder, mums with kids who have a nanny, mums with relatives or friends who care for their kids, mums who work nights, mums who travel for work, mums who serve in a different country to their kids, mums who do more than one of these things… and any other kind of mum I’ve forgotten to mention.
WE ARE ALL WORKING.
That includes mums who stay at home. You’re still working. Hard.
This post, in particular, is for all the mums who have battled or are still battling with themselves about going back to work, and why you shouldn’t feel guilty.
I don’t think going back to work gets talked about, supported or celebrated enough as it should be. Here are my maternity leave revelations.
I have had my fill of people asking me ”Are you going back to work? Yes?! Don’t you want to be at home with Archie?” Which, of course, has made me feel so guilty, and made me feel like perhaps I love my baby less than mums who stay at home/work from home.
My son Archie is almost 6 months old now, and in that short space of time I’ve already felt every emotion going about returning to work. Things have happened that have revealed how I truly feel.
A couple of months ago I let myself get into a bit of a frustrating personal dilemma about what I should be doing for Archie’s sake. We briefly toyed with the idea of me staying at home to raise him, but immediately knew that wouldn’t work. Between us we have a mortgage and bills to pay.
So I started looking at the idea of starting my own business. Of becoming a mum boss. I wanted in on the idea of working from home, spending every day with my brilliant little boy and watching him grow up as I crafted/designed/whatever business idea I would have come up with.
I’ve studied lots of other amazing mum bosses and what they do; don’t get me wrong – I am incredibly impressed with them and admire their skill, bravery, energy and business-minds. I’ve looked at the things they make and thought “I can do this. I can create and design. I have a background in art and design and I love crafting and illustrating.”
I actually wanted to be a photographer in my pre-nurse life.
I attended a few talks in Manchester where some inspirational mum bosses filled us in on their secrets to running a successful business. To managing to stay at home with their children, how they cope with the balance and how they came up with their ideas. The room was filled with lots of other inspiring mums who run their own businesses. I’d go home inspired and full of ideas and fantasies about living the same dream. I pulled out a notebook and jotted down ideas of things I could do. It drove me a little crazy, especially because I’d never mentioned it to my husband Kov to avoid scaring him.
But then I got too deep into it. I started telling myself “I’ll be a bad mum if I go back to work and put Archie in childcare.”
We’d already chosen a nursery and I was dragging my feet about booking Archie into it, because I was hoping to come up with some kind of miraculous business idea that would avoid this.
It took fessing up to Kov to pull me back down to reality.
A couple of weeks ago I’d had a really pleasant time with Archie. I’d had a good night of sleep, we’d cuddled and played all morning. I soothed him into his afternoon nap and lay him safely on the sofa as I filled the washing machine with laundry.
It really got to me. I couldn’t accept that in a few months time I wouldn’t be the person doing that for Archie, but instead, it would be a stranger.
I picked up my phone and messaged Kov, telling him that I felt like I’d missed the boat in starting my own business and that I was finding it hard to accept that I’d be back at work and missing out on Archie 3 days a week, while all the other mums had nailed it and were staying at home.
He replied telling me that the other mums were of course business-minded, and reminded me that we didn’t have the capital or time, and that if I just came up with a business idea purely to stay at home rather than because I was passionate about it in the first place, it would surely fail.
Even though I knew he was right, I cried. I actually cried just because I wasn’t business minded! What the hell! Hormones – do one.
But, it was a relief to hear in all honesty.
I replied saying that I would renew my nursing license with the NMC (nursing and midwifery council) that I had let lapse at the end of September, and do some keep in touch days at work once Archie is weaned to get me passionate about being a nurse again. He replied telling me that this was a good idea, and that I actually have a great career.
I needed that.
A few days later I shook it all off and decided to get on my computer and renew my lapsed license. I’d helped a fellow nurse out with this before; it would just require applying online to re-admit myself to the register and a few signatures from other nurses.
I didn’t mean to let it lapse – it had slipped my mind whilst on maternity leave and I assumed that because I wasn’t practising it wouldn’t matter.
Long story short it didn’t appear as easy as all that at first. I thought I was being asked to provide them with an amazing portfolio of all the things I’d achieved as a nurse in order to renew my license, but my portfolio just wasn’t good enough as I hadn’t kept it up to date. I thought a whole load of work needed to go into this, which would have involved me going into work for days to use the library during my maternity leave.
I began researching nursing portfolios which was incredibly inspiring – it made me realise how proud I was to have also achieved a lot of the things I saw in examples of other’s portfolios.
I was convinced I was going to lose my license and therefore my job, which was an incredibly depressing thought for me. I felt like my identity was going to be stripped from me. It was possibly one of the worst weekends of my life.
It all turned out ok in the end – the renewal website was confusing and actually wasn’t asking me to provide a portfolio at all. I will be returning to work in February next year.
So. Three events have occurred in the past few weeks that have taught me that it’s ok to go back to work, and it’s ok to not be a mum boss:
1. When we went to view a nursery for Archie I was extremely nervous. I dreaded it. I thought I was going to go in there and feel horribly guilty about liking a place where I would be ”dumping my baby with strangers” while I sodded off to work. Actually, we went in and immediately felt at ease. The place was awesome; professional, safe, clean, educational and fun. We left in a completely different frame of mind, and both agreed that actually Archie would have a lot of fun and learn a lot there like all the other babies who were playing in that baby room. He can develop his social skills with the other children and make a mess without me worrying about it.
2. I now know that with my circumstances I would not be able to provide the same attention and education to Archie if I was working at home than he would be provided if he was at a nursery. Sitting at a desk all day with a computer and tons of paperwork trying to get on with my nursing portfolio was enough to put me off working from home right now; Archie is a cat napper so is awake most of the time, which required me to constantly stop doing my work to give him attention/stop him from trying to escape from the living room. My parents don’t live close by so couldn’t be around to care for him in the next room while I work from home. I very soon realised that I didn’t want to spend my maternity leave doing any more work, but instead I wanted to enjoy my time with Archie. However, I do know other mums out there who manage to both whilst on maternity leave - you are actually superwomen!
3. I am a nurse, I’m bloody proud to be one and I worked hard to get here! Why the hell was I even doubting myself and being upset for not being business-minded in the first place?! I mentioned earlier that working from home was a short dream at one point, but for an even longer time so was being a nurse. It took me being terrified by the thought of losing my job for me to realise that there is nothing wrong with me returning to duty. I love Archie more than anything that exists, but I also love my career and someone needs to do it. Looking back at the things I had achieved and reading about what else I can learn excited me. Every time I’ve visited work with Archie I’ve felt the urge to get stuck in and get involved in patient care. I love listening to my colleagues talk about work when we meet for play dates.
I may miss out on seeing Archie 3 days a week, but he will understand and appreciate why.
I had the best of both worlds growing up; my Mum was a stay at home mum while my Dad would start work before I woke up and finish after my bedtime. He worked extremely hard, and Archie will know the same about me and Kov. I can’t see this doing him any harm.
So why should I feel guilty? Like a lot of parents out there, I’ll be unwillingly missing out on some time spent with Archie so that I can willingly word hard, but this is to make ends meet. It doesn’t mean I love him less and doesn’t mean there won’t be any good times.
I am lucky – there are parents out there who have to have more than one job so that they can put food on the table.
I have finally realised that Archie is going to be absolutely fine, and I hope you feel the same way about your little ones too.
Thanks for reading and please comment below on any of the above. I love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
Jo Swann has 15 solid years of experience in Public Relations and runs award-winning Leeds-based PR Company – Chocolate PR after working in media, marketing and PR agencies. She has worked with companies of all sizes including the likes of Whistles, NSPCC, Marriot Hotels, Yo! Sushi to name just a few and won many awards along the way but her mission now is to help small businesses, and particularly female entrepreneurs harness the power of PR.
My mental health has had a good bashing over the years. I’ve suffered with post-natal-depression, panic attacks, addiction, anxiety and a serious lack of self love and self worth. And then of course there’s the meds and the side effects that come with them.
To support the #HaveAHeart campaign I asked the beautiful blog squad ladies some their thoughts on what wellbeing means to them, why they are supporting this campaign, who they are gifting their yellow hearts to and how they look after their own wellbeing.