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Returning from Maternity Leave: My Positive Story

October 17, 2022

Written by Louise Kingston Barnes

Returning from maternity leave after whatever period of time you take off to be with your new bundle of joy can be daunting. It was for me. However, I don’t think it was as daunting as it could have been and I think that was because of how my employer handled my return. I hope my story helps other employers handle how they deal with employees returning from maternity.

Before I left on maternity leave, I was a full time resourcer and administrator at Ambitious Group, a busy and demanding role that kept me on my toes from 9am-5.30pm. Then I became a mum. Busy from 12am-12pm with this little human dependant on you for their every need. I thought I had done all the preparation I needed to but boy was I wrong. I had to become a completely different person in that year off from work but it’s funny how quickly I got used to being that different person. Now it’s just the normal me and when I think of that full time Resourcer I think that is the different person.

So, rewind to a couple months before returning to work. After countless conversations with my husband and multiple financial calculations, we decided that I would return part time on 2 days a week and I needed to put this forward to Robin, my MD. I think it was at this point I realised how lucky I was and how much easier the transition was going to be because of how Robin handled the whole situation. We sat down on several occasions, talked about the logistics of 2 days a week, how my role will change because of this, which we both agreed on, was flexible on my hours so I could do nursery pick up and at all times reassuring me that he wanted me back with the business and he would make it work. So even before returning to the office, I felt supported, wanted, and appreciated. I think employers need to recognise that if someone is returning from maternity leave, they may be coming back to a new role entirely with a new mindset and new priorities. They will not be the same person as before they left so it’s important that they are supported and welcomed.

Then the day finally came. My first full day in the office and Astrid’s first full day at nursery. I dropped her off, cried the whole way to the office, fixed the panda eyes and headed in. It was daunting as there had been quite a few changes in the year I had been off, all of which I was aware of because Robin kept me up to date. But still, so many new faces, new rooms to the office etc. It felt a little like I started a new job at a new company! That feeling didn’t last long though. First cuppa made, a desk all to myself and a good solid lay out of my new tasks. By the end of the day, I had drank copious amounts of hot tea, eaten food that I didn’t have to share and had conversations that did not involve “Peekaboo” or “Don’t lick that”.

Fast forward to 6 months later, I absolutely love and look forward to coming into work and Astrid absolutely loves going to nursery! It is a break for both of us, I think! There have been multiple days where I have had to leave work to pick Astrid up early due to illness (seriously, a nursery is just a breeding ground for germs) but the understanding of my employer continued and I was not made to feel bad about having to leave. Trust me, I have heard of employers who have done this and it’s such a horrible position to put a mother or father in, as they have no choice.

I have been incredibly lucky with my return from maternity leave journey at Ambitious Group, so much so I am going to do it all over again in April 2023! Here are some tips below about how you can help your employees return from maternity leave -

My Top 5 Tips to help returning parents back to the office

  • Check in on your employee every so often, even just by text and keep them up to date with any changes in the office
  • Make them feel supported, wanted and appreciated
  • Be open to their possible new work hours/new job role
  • Make sure both you and your employee take it slow on their return as it will be a big change!
  • Provide hot beverages – simple but oh so important

At Ambitious Group we are proud of the benefits we offer all members of staff, including enhanced maternity and paternity pay. You can find out more about our benefits here or click here to find out more about Team Ambitious!

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