My little boy is 17 weeks old tomorrow and I’ve been back at work for 11 weeks now. I went back to the office when he was 6 weeks old.
No, I’m not work obsessed and I wasn’t itching for a break from the little one. In fact, I would’ve spent every second with him for the whole year if it were feasible. Let me offer up a bit of background.
I’ve worked in digital since 2009 and am now a Director at a Digital Agency in Manchester. I love what I do. When I found out I was pregnant, my husband and I talked about our childcare options and we decided we both wanted leave and to be a part of his first year in a full time capacity.
It made more sense for us financially too if he took some leave.
And so it was decided. I would return after 6 weeks and he would take his leave from the earliest time he was entitled – when Oliver is 20 weeks. We missed out on the new shared parenting leave scheme by a mere week or two. But never mind. I’ve had a lot of flexibility in my role. At 6 weeks, I returned to the office 3 days a week and made myself available at home as and when possible. I’ll return to the office full time at the end of July.
A spanner in the works was that my labour ended in an emergency C section – so I had a 6 week recovery period. In truth, I was feeling ok after about 3 or 4 weeks. But nonetheless, that was unexpected. But never was it a consideration that I would change my plans.
As it stands, Oliver spends Thursday and Friday day times with my Mum. He loves it. And she loves it even more. Even when my husband takes leave, he’ll continue to spend time with her.
I didn’t think there was anything too unusual about returning to work early. But an acquaintance asked me whether I felt my son would suffer as the result of my leaving him two daytimes a week to go back to work after just 6 weeks of maternity leave.
I felt this terrible pang of guilt.
My first morning back in the office was plagued with a (somewhat irrational) sense of guilt and several calls and messages to my Mum.
He was, of course, fine. And he has grown to love his afternoons with Nanna. It’s so, so important to us as that our little boy is close to his Grandparents. I’ve been incredibly close to my Nan for as long as I can remember and it did me the world of good as a child.
And, as much as I miss him on Thursdays and Fridays, it’s good for me to be back in the midst of my work.
It’s balance. And, as my son grows, I want him to be accustomed to this setup. If I want him to grow up understanding the value of working, I should lead by example.
I’m always home in time for bath, cuddles and bed. And after 10 hours away during the day, I love nothing more than spending some time with him in the evenings. I miss him terribly. And it’s with a degree of trepidation that I head back into the office 5 days a week. He’s still so young…
But this is how it is. I love my work. I love my son much, much more, of course, and I’m in the fortunate position where I can have both.