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Returning to work after maternity leave

Posted by: Emma Upton

Do you remember that Sunday night dread you had as a teenager on the last day of the summer holidays? I do. My mum would be ironing my school shirt as she reminded me to pack my new pencil case. The upbeat chimes of the Antique’s Roadshow theme tune playing in the background did little to raise my mood. We invariably had a roast dinner on a Sunday and the rich smell of gravy and potatoes still lingered.

I recently returned to work after a year of maternity leave and, I must admit, the feeling of fear settled in my stomach in the same way it did all those years ago when a new school year drew near. It can be difficult for a new parent to cope with the reality of returning to work. Having to get up early, get dressed in clean clothes, leave your child at nursery, switch your brain on to a different frequency and engage with work. Don’t be under any illusions: maternity or paternity leave isn’t a vacation. But returning to the workplace poses a different set of challenges than those you come up against when coping with a new- born baby.

Everyone approaches it differently. For some, the end of maternity/paternity leave can’t come quickly enough. Many parents yearn for the adult world of work and the chance to have a warm cup of tea in relative peace.
I felt a cocktail of different emotions as I dropped my children off at nursery and made my way to work on my first day back. Was it nice to drive the car without the Moana soundtrack playing? Definitely. Was I excited about the thought of a child free day ahead? Yes. Did I miss my children? For sure.

I was nervous. There had been so many positive changes at WRS in my absence and I was keen to integrate quickly and carve out a role for myself in the exciting developments going on. I wanted to impress people and prove I was still capable of performing to a high level. I suppose, I wanted to show everyone that I was still the same.

Only, I’m not the same. In fact, I’m better. Coming back to work with a fresh pair of eyes has meant that I view my role within the business in a more strategic way. I see where I can make the most impact and which areas of the business I can most effectively support. What’s more, I have the confidence to do this now, because I feel capable of much more thanks to the things I have achieved in my personal life.

This is my story. Whatever your experience of returning to work after maternity or paternity leave, I would encourage you not to feel too nervous, not to be too apprehensive. It’s not quite as bad as those Sunday nights at the start of September. Working parents have so much to offer and so many skills to bring to the workplace. These should be celebrated and appreciated, in the way they are at WRS. My return to work has gone smoothly. If you’re in the same position, I hope yours does too!

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