I have been fascinated by the reactions that people have had to me when I was on maternity leave, when I was getting ready to go back to work, and now that I am back at work. I find that some people are very judgemental about how they expect families to work. Well, I’ve got news for you everyone, we’re all different, we all have different needs and that is one of the amazing things about us.
My aim is to share the stories of families of all different types and spread the word that we are all playing a #BalancingAct to get through and raise our little people the best way we can. Let’s celebrate the diversity between our families, let’s not judge each other.
So, this week it’s over to Becky from LittleOandMe.
1. Tell me about your family
My name’s Becky and I blog over at LittleOandMe. I am engaged to a handsome Scotsman called Steve and we have a 2 year old son Oliver (LittleO). Me and Steve actually met at work as he was my boss (oooer) and we occasionally still work together which can be interesting!
2. What was your job/position before you started your family?
I was assistant manager of an independent opticians and had just started a course to begin the journey of becoming a dispensing optician, I found out I was pregnant shortly after starting the course! I naively thought that I would be able to carry on with studying and take the exams with a three month old baby however after Oliver arrived 6 weeks early and I developed post natal depression I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with the added pressures of working on the course.
3. What was your work-life balance like?
I really enjoyed my job and invested a lot of time and effort into my role. The fact that I worked with Steve and it is such a lovely company meant that it was sort of a home away from home and I wouldn’t mind working late or not having a day off. Although after work we would be out quite a lot so I definitely managed a social life as well.
4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity/paternity leave?
I really surprised myself and loved my maternity leave! I completely underestimated how I would feel becoming a mama and Oliver has definitely changed my perspective on life and on what’s important. As I stayed in touch with colleagues I still felt like part of the team so didn’t feel like I lost the social aspect of working.
5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?
I went back to work when Oliver turned a year old. We knew that I would have to go back to work at some point as money would be tight on Steve’s wage alone. The company I work for was really accommodating and just asked me to let them know when I wanted to return and on what basis. So we decided that I would go back two days a week, I now do 10 days a month. It was a hard decision for me to make and I still get pangs of guilt when I’m away from Oliver, although we are very fortunate that my mum looks after him on the days that I work.
6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?
When I first went back I think people expected me to pick up from where I left off and I was thrown in the deep end when in reality I struggled to remember the simple stuff like my email password! Just before I returned new team members joined so I felt like the ’new girl’ again which was quite odd. My role hasn’t changed, but as I only work 2 or 3 days a week I constantly feel like I’m having to catch up with whats been happening and anything new in the practice, so it can be challenging.
7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.
Challenging, tiring (!), rewarding
8. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?
I would ideally like to be a stay at home mum but I think the reality is that I would miss working. It’s always difficult to gear myself the night before work, but ultimately I know it’s good for me to retain a part of my previous life and it makes me appreciate the time I do have with Oliver all the more.
For all the previous posts, see the #BalancingAct page.
If you think you’d like to get involved in this feature and share your story, please leave a comment, tweet me @mamavsteacher or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.