Returning to work after becoming a Mum
When we have children we are all faced with the choice of whether to go back to work afterwards or not and many of us make that decision based on many different things. I’ve got 2 children and 1 on the way and after going through different decisions each time I’ve been faced with this situation, I’m really passionate about telling my story as I hope other mums (and dads) might get something from it.
My daughter Mackenzie was born in 2007 and at the time I was working for a large stationery company and loved my job. I went on maternity leave in October and she was born in November. I knew I would return to work but hadn’t really discussed when as it was quite a way off in my mind, until 1 day over Christmas I got a call from my area manager telling me there was a promotion available and it was mine if I wanted it, however the right candidate would be available at the start of January! So after discussing it with my husband and thinking about what a good opportunity it was, I decided to return to work when Mackenzie was only 10 weeks old. Looking back now it was too soon and although I loved my job the new position meant a 40 hour week plus a 3 hour a day commute. I was leaving the house when she was in bed and I when I came home she was back in bed – I was missing all those special moments. My husband and mum shared the care of her and I got upset when I’d call home and mum would tell me what she’d done that day, but as the main income provider I thought it was my job to continue this way, I didn’t see another option.
Then in 2009 I found out I was pregnant again and knew this time I wanted to do things differently, for a start I didn’t think it was fair on my mum to look after 2 children on the days mine and my husband’s shifts overlapped. If I’m honest it was also a massive strain on our family, I was never there and Jamie (my husband) and I never spent any quality time together either. So we talked it through and I asked him for a role reversal, I wanted him to return to work full time and for me to take my full maternity leave this time and become a mum at home. In my eyes we’d tried it the other way and I was feeling like I wasn’t being the kind of mum I wanted to be. Jamie agreed and at the start of July I started my maternity leave and Billy was born a couple of weeks later. There was pressure from work, they kept asking me what my intentions were, how long I was having off and I just kept saying not sure probably a few months when I knew that wouldn’t be the case.
I happily spent the next few months at home bringing up the children, being there for them every day whilst Jamie went out to work, the trouble was after a while I got into a routine of staying in most days and not really doing much apart from the everyday mundane things like housework. I began clock watching waiting for 6pm to arrive and then I’d ring Jamie and expect him home in 10 minutes flat as ‘dinner was on the table’ and I wanted him to see the children before bedtime. It got to a point where I didn’t want to leave the house and the once very social Stacey got lost in a world of Cbeebies, I could have named any of the Teletubbies but my brain was turning to mush, I’d lost my confidence and I was feeling down. I was worried I was becoming depressed as I was also piling on weight, even though I was trying to lose weight, it seemed the more I tried the more I put on. When I went to the doctors I was worried he was going to tell me I had Postnatal depression so told him how I felt but made it clear I was down, but not depressed. That’s when he told me he thought I’d got polycystic ovary syndrome and that’s why my weight had increased, my hormones were everywhere and I was feeling down. It wasn’t long after this I attended a networking meeting with a friend and told everyone there I was soon due back to work but didn’t know what to do. I explained I knew I didn’t want to work full time but I also knew if I stayed at home I’d feel like I wasn’t contributing or achieving anything. It was at that very meeting I met a lady who introduced me to another possibility, one that meant I could work from home.
I met with her and I loved the idea of still being a mum at home but running a business at the same time around my children. I was sceptical- I’d got no business experience only my retail/catering management roles previous but she was inspiring to listen to so I trusted her and I’m so glad I did. She helped me set up my own business and map out what was important to me. I got the work/life balance I desired. I had my children to look after but whilst they slept or played I ran my business from home. Some people mocked me and some still do because they don’t understand etc. but most are supportive and help where they can. It’s also now allowed my husband to be at home more as well so we can bring up our children together and the children love having both mum and dad around. For me though it’s given me my confidence back. I’m now happy to train teams of people, will talk to anyone and feel comfortable with who I am and what I’m doing meaning I can be a better mum to my children to.
Our 3rd child is on the way and it was a bit of a surprise for us, but I’m much happier this time round as there’s no pressure on me to return to work or give it up, I can take everything each day as it comes. People keep asking me when my maternity leaves starts or what my plans are but the great thing is because of the nature of my business I don’t need to make those decisions, yes I’ll have some time off but as I work around the children I can do the odd task or two and I know my business will continue to grow. My children have grown up around my business and they love it. They love the products and the ‘idea’ of a business and in my eyes if I motivate and inspire them I’m doing my main job!
What I want is for other mums to realise there is no right or wrong, there is no special formula in returning to work. Do what’s best for you and your family and don’t feel guilty about it, but don’t think you don’t have a choice like I did to start with and don’t suffer in silence. I’m so thankful to the friend that took me to that networking meeting and to the mentor I found that day as they really did change my families future and now I’m helping other mums achieve similar things, it’s like I’m giving something back for the help I’ve received.
I hope this story helps you and feel free to contact me to discuss anything.