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 Lauren from Belle Du Brighton. Reading Lauren’s blog’s was probably one of the reasons that I started up Mamavsteacher so I’ve really enjoyed hearing about how her family is growing.
We are a family of three, soon to be four! I’m Lauren, married to Sam and we had our daughter Athena in June 2013. She’ll be around 21 months when her little brother arrives at Easter time!
2. What was your job/position before you started your family?
I was a hotel manager for a large hotel in Brighton. I’ve worked for the company for 12 years, starting as a part time bar maid when I turned 18, working my way up to senior management.
3. What was your work-life balance like?
Pretty much non existent. A hotel is open for business 24/7/365. The doors are never closed, so you can never fully switch off. I would get phone calls about goings on during the night, on my days off and when on holiday if it was important enough! I could never sleep with my phone on silent, and often had to drop what I was doing at any given time to dash to the hotel to sort the issue out.
4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?
Blissful! I missed it for the first few weeks, and kept in regular contact with the team and the person covering my maternity leave. But then I realised I was being daft, they knew what they were doing and I couldn’t step in too much and tread on their toes! I slowly started to back off a bit then, and was so happy to be able to have my phone on silent, or even in a different room than I was!
5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?
Yes! After my 12 months maternity leave and 1 month of holiday tacked to the end came to an end I returned to the same company in a made up (for me) role as an ‘area administrator’ which basically meant that my Area Manager created a role for me so that I could stay with the company and keep abreast of company related goings on, but work part time. I decided around 9 months into maternity leave that I couldn’t maintain the same level of commitment to being the manager with Athena. My husband does the same job at a different hotel; what if we both had an emergency call on the same night, who has the baby? What if we both have to go to the same all day conference, who has the baby? Plus, after 12 years of solid (Stressful!) working I thought a break from full time work would be nice, and give me time to consider different options for the future. I was lucky that I negotiated to work tues/wed/thu so have three days in and four days off, and get to do all the fun (to me!) admin jobs like cost analysis and forecasting, and none of the crap part of the job like dealing with major complaints or health and safety audits!
6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?
Life is calmer now I have returned to work, although I got pregnant the week I went back so will only have been at work 9 months before I start maternity leave again! I enjoy the half hour commute each way (my only truly baby free time each week!) and enjoy the adult conversation and busy environment, and will miss it a bit when I am back at home this time with two babies!
7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.
Pretty much okay!
8. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?
I do sometimes wish that my husband didn’t have to dash off at odd times when there is an emergency, but having done the same job for years I do understand why! Him running his own hotel means that he can pick and choose the shifts he does to fit round me if I have evening/daytime plans for example, which is a great help, plus as we work for the same company we can plan our holidays together too! Neither of us doing mon-fri 9-5 jobs means we have to plan our time together, which is good as it means we stick to ‘date nights’ etc!
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.