Mums at Work
We are now in a society where it isn’t strange for mums to go back to work when they have a newborn, more and more mums are doing it! Approximately 68% of women return to work within 11 months of giving birth and 80% within 17 months.
A lot of women feel their job is under threat when they leave to have a family and are unsure what to expect on their return. Almost a quarter of women returning to work after maternity incur a financial loss (reduction in salary, bonus or returning to a lower level job).
Companies should not underestimate the skills and hard work ethic of mums returning to work after maternity leave. Within Ocean Edge we have 2 mums who work part time and are outstanding at their job and we have a mum of 3 who runs our PR and Communications arm.
I asked what their experience was when they went on maternity leave and this is what they told me.
Senior Consultant within Ocean Edge:
I was worried what the team would be like after a year away from the office – I took a month before my son was born and 9 months afterwards – I remember not wanting to let go from work in the initial month of my leave.
Initially I kept in touch with my team and then I realised my Maternity leave cover had a good grasp of things and I was not needed – I was involved in his recruitment which really helped me to feel comfortable handing over my workload. He stayed on after I came back. As someone else left which really helped me not to feel guilty.
The feeling of going back to work is scary, you feel excited to be dressed for work again and out of the house – drinking a hot cup of tea all the way through is not a urban mum myth it really is real!!! Also very guilty about leaving my son – I was nervous about what procedures would have changed and how out of the loop I would feel. In reality it was all the same.
The company I was with at the time only granted part time working for 3 months as a trial – then said it was not possible to do the role in 3 days and so I handed my notice in – I would agree, it was a full time role and they had been used to me being on hand every day 4 years previously and my maternity leave cover doing it full time. Also politically for the team, if they had allowed me to be part time other people were gearing up to request it for a similar job title and they did not want that – it all got a bit political.
My role at Ocean Edge was advertised as full time or part time and I eventually opened up about having a son and wanting to be part time – initially I was guarded about having him, as I did not want the appointing managers to think I would have less commitment because I was a mum!! I said I wanted to be part time at first, to suit my ‘lifestyle’.
Being part time means I get plenty of quality time with my son. You need to work even harder than before kids, to prove that you are valuable and when your kids get ill and you need time off – they know that the rest of the time you are a good member of staff and worth your wages!! I think I am probably as productive part time as I ever was full time as now I have responsibilities (someone else to earn my wages for) I wonder whether having kids during your working career is easier in bigger companies with more infrastructures and more staff?
Recruitment Manager within Ocean Edge:
I was a bit apprehensive at first with going back to work as I had spent 9 months dedicating my whole life to my baby and the thought of leaving him and going back to real life was daunting. Luckily Ocean Edge was flexible and I started to work 3 days a week which allowed me enough time to spend with my son and to also get stuck into some projects at work.
Ocean Edge has made it very easy, the office is a nice environment to work in and if my son is sick I am able to work from home if needed to. There are times where I have to send emails or speak to clients on my days off but that is part of the job role and if I complete on assignments then my hard work is rewarded- so I do not mind. I also think I am much more productive in my three working days.
I think more companies should offer part time working to parents- especially in senior positions. Just because you are a parent working part time, it shouldn’t stop you from having a successful career.
Director of Ocean Edge PR & Communications:
Whilst on maternity leave I set up my own PR Company so I could start doing some freelance work at home. I picked up some work and was planning to go back to work part time when I had the baby but in the end I decided to leave permanent employment and work for myself full time. It meant an end to regular pay checks, holiday and sick pay and stability but it meant I could fit the work around the baby and be based at home. It was hard at first especially with a newborn baby but I have never looked back really and have just got busier and busier over the years. I’m so used to working for myself I worked right up until I gave birth to my second and third child! Literally working from my laptop on the day I went into the hospital and answering emails from the maternity ward!! It’s a different situation to someone in full time employment who will have up to 1 year off with no need to worry about work, but it suits me and means that over the years I have been able to go to sports days, assemblies etc and do the school run every day so I’m there for the kids and I just fit in my work around their school time and work in the evenings. Because I love what I do and it is my own company I don’t mind working at weekends or taking the laptop away on holiday. The flexibility suits my lifestyle and I wouldn’t change a thing!