It’s been a year since I returned to work after my maternity leave. Looking back, that period was filled with numerous new routines and an overwhelming sense of guilt, because of leaving Mollie to return to work. As I sit here writing this, I’m actually on a work trip, and travelling is another aspect of my role which adds another level of complexity to the already busy mix of responsibilities I’m juggling. But travelling is actually a part of my job that I genuinely enjoy, and I’ve been able to scale it back a bit to make it more manageable.
A question I often get asked about is how we reached our decision of returning to work full time, which also meant full time crèche for Mollie. But I would start by saying that every situation and family have their own set of circumstances so no one rules fits all.. you have to do what you think is right for you and your family.
I therefore wanted to share a bit of an insight on how we came to our decision and how it works for us, as well as share how we navigated and continue to navigate the mix of motherhood and career.
My gut always told me to return to work and I always knew it was the best thing for both myself and Mollie. And while it was emotionally hard, I had to focus on the benefits. For me, being back at work provides a sense of purpose and fulfilment outside of the home, while also providing the opportunity to continue to grow and develop professionally and the opportunity to travel. For Mollie we loved the idea of giving her the opportunity to attend creche as it offers such valuable socialization opportunities and exposure to a wider range of experiences and interactions, particularly as Mollie is our only child.
During my pregnancy I always planned to go back to work as I’m fortunate to be in a job I love, however when we first received the post-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome for Mollie, my mind was in a haze of emotions and thoughts. In that first hour and particularly and in early days and weeks ahead, one of my initial reactions was that I would leave my job and I remember vividly having the conversation with my husband, I thought back then that my life was going to have to be very different and that I couldn’t hold down a job let alone a full time job because of our new circumstances. However as the months passed by and as we lived through the real life experience, I realized that my thinking was not clear in those moments and I was basing my thoughts on perceptions and ideas that weren’t mine. As in fact our reality meant that I absolutely could go back to work. I came to understand that there was no reason for me to give up my job. I did however accept and acknowledge that as a working mum I knew that things had to change at work to accommodate my new role as a mother and also accommodate the many medical appointments we would have to attend.
Fortunately, my employer was supportive of my return to work and offered flexible working arrangements. Now, I have a hybrid approach where I work both from home and from the office, which allows me to also work around Mollie’s schedule, including all those appointments. Having this flexibility from my employer has been a game-changer for me as a working mum. It’s allowed me to effectively manage my time and responsibilities, ensure we get to attend all of Mollie’s medical appointments and it’s made my return to work a lot smoother. Since I’ve returned to work I really have had a renewed love and appreciation for my job and I love the challenges, the busyness, and the excitement of my work environment which provides another focus outside of home and family life
With Mollie being our only child, we were also very keen to have her interact, engage and spend time with other babies and children, which was also another good reason for us opting for a crèche setting. Mollie’s granny and auntie care for her 3 days a week, and because they also look after other children Mollie has lots of interaction with lots of different people. While they would have kept Mollie full time, we decided it would be beneficial to send Mollie to a neutral setting where there was no family connections, so she is getting a blend of environments and experiences.
Already we are seeing the benefits for Mollie, which is a crucial part of her development and growth. She absolutely loves both settings and we can see that she is making amazing progress in all areas, while also learning from her peers and caretakers in these environments. And for now this plan is working for us, it’s not to say that things may chance in the future but we will simply adjust and change if we have to.
Of course, every family’s situation is unique and there may be factors that make returning to work more challenging or less desirable. It is important for each family to weigh their individual circumstances and make the decision that is best for them.
For me, being able to have a fulfilling job, and give Mollie the opportunity to mix with her peers and get unique experiences has been an absolute blessing.