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 I’d like to hand you over to Lisa from Mummascribbles.
1. Tell me about your family
My little family consists of me Lisa (hello!), my other half Dean, our little boy Zachary who is 2, our cat Millie who is 6 and several tropical fish most of whom are about 5 months old! Dean and I have known each other for about 15 years, have been together for 4 years and decided on a baby over marriage roughly a year into our relationship! We’re in our early thirties by the way and Dean is exactly 5 days older than me!
2. What was your job/position before you started your family?
I worked my way up from a mere switchboard person/skivvy, fresh out of uni, to a conference organiser with many other job titles thrown in along the way. I worked hard and had somewhere I wanted to get to and was very happy when I succeeded. It took a long time but my hard work paid off. I completely fell into events but it turns out it’s something I’m pretty good at which does baffle me slightly as I’m hideously unorganised in my own life!
3. What was you work-life balance like?
It was perfect. The conferences took me away to some cool places around the UK (the only downside was lots of student accommodation), but I also spent plenty of time at home, plenty of time out with my colleagues and plenty of time with friends and family. I never felt that one over-rode the other and I certainly had no complaints to harper on about. I also had plenty of money to spend on myself whenever I wanted – most of it went on handbags!
4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?
I loved it but there were times when it was incredibly hard. Sometimes Dean would get home from work and I was still in my pj’s because Zach had spent the whole day cluster feeding and on one particular occasion when it all got too much and I found myself in uncontrollable floods of tears. These were hard but 99.9% of the time I just loved not being at work. I loved staying home with my baby, going out to meet new mummy friends and taking him to classes. Watching him develop and change daily was an absolute joy. I was incredibly sad when it was all over and reality hit me in the face.
5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?
I returned to work when Zach was 9 months old. I put in a request for a 4 day week which was approved and I also used 1 day of annual leave per week at the beginning so I was only doing 3 days in the office up until he was one. I was doing 4 day weeks up until April this year when we managed to get ourselves a mortgage to pay and I then had to return full time. Other than going part time in the beginning (if you can call a 4 day week part time!), there was no other decision to be made. We simply couldn’t afford for me not to work and we especially couldn’t afford to pay a mortgage on anything less than my full time wage.
6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?
It got a bit mental to be honest. I seemed to be going away much more often and for much longer periods and I was finding it really hard being away from Zach for so long. Six days worth of FaceTime does not compensate for face to face contact. Four weeks ago I was in San Francisco for 10 days. It was the longest, hardest time and all I got was tiny snippets of Zach when I woke up and just before he was going to bed. Work, along with the 8 hour time difference allowed for no other time to be in contact with him. However it was to be my last conference for that company and I’m now on week 2 of my new job! I’m working slightly longer hours (although they have been very flexible with my start and finish times) and there is currently no set working from home opportunities which I had in my previous job. It was a really tough decision because I had it good where I was but I had gotten bored. The events I’m going to be doing now are for much shorter periods so whilst I will still have to go away, it should be for 1-2 days rather than 5-6 (except for the one next month that is the only long one they run and involves a whole weekend plus three work days…oops!).
7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.
Hectic, challenging, necessary
8. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?
There is no doubt that if we were in the financial position to do so, I would work less. For me, the three day week was perfect as I spent more time with Zach than I did with work. I wish that I could return to that (or even less). I wish that we could spend our days kicking leaves in the park, making crafty things at home or going to classes and playgroups, but the reality is that we have to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. We are very fortunate that my Mum provides childcare for us 3 days a week and that Zach loves going to nursery on the other 2 days so I know that every day he is having an absolute ball. And I am looking forward to getting grips on my new job – I figured I might as well enjoy what I have to do which is why I decided to move on!