From the Baby Room to the Boardroom

From the Baby Room to the Boardroom

After 7 months of being glued to my son’s side… I have returned to work. Not part time. Not one day less a week. Full time.

I won’t lie. I enjoy my day job. (How awful of me!) I consider many of the people I work with close friends and it has been very refreshing to have an adult conversation with someone who isn’t questioning my parenting skills or analysing my child’s developmental progress. But wouldn’t I rather be playing ‘stack the rings’ with my blue-eyed bundle of joy and unravelling the tufts of hair from his tight little fist that he has so excitedly wrenched from my head?

Without a shadow of a doubt.

Returning to work after having a baby seems to be a controversial topic these days. Some people find it absolutely abhorrent that any mother would contemplate leaving her baby behind to pursue her career. Others welcome the escapism. Most have no choice.

In my opinion, no one should ever question a woman on her right to decide to return or not to return to work.

I’ve recently had a few negative comments from ‘friends’ who think that it is their right to tell me that it is ‘not normal’ to go back to work ‘so early’ and that I should look for part time work. It is so infuriating. Whilst there are of course a few mothers out there who can’t wait to leave their child behind and return to their career – I am not one of them.

The main issue people seem to have is: if you have decided to go back to work, at what point are you going back? By rights maternity leave generally lasts a year, so returning before then is surely not encouraged? And if you do return before the year exactly what are your reasons?

According to some ‘experts’ you should be breastfeeding your baby for at least six months so surely you wouldn’t consider going back to work before then?! And who are you going to leave your precious bundle with? Surely they won’t get enough love and affection?

The list of criticisms is endless and sadly it seems to be other mothers who are doing most of the scrutinising.

Personally I wouldn’t recommend going back to work before 6 months, for the simple reason that not only do you want to spend the first few precious months with your child, but your body has gone through a massive upheaval and needs time to recover. But some mothers have little choice. And the result can often be an overwhelming sense of guilt and separation anxiety.

Just remember that for all the tears you shed, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that suggests that children are damaged in any way when their mothers work outside the home. And once you see that your baby is fine, your emotions will stabilise. The American Academy of Paediatrics reports that a child who is emotionally well adjusted, well loved, and well cared for will thrive regardless of whether his mother works outside the home.

In my case I am very lucky that my in-laws and my husband are on hand to look after Pip and despite an early start, I get home at a very reasonable time so am able to give him his dinner, bath and spend quality time with him.

For other mothers who leave at the crack of dawn and don’t get home until their child has gone to bed, the decision to work must be much more difficult and rather than criticising them we should offer more support.

Equally, we should also support those who choose not to return to work or remain full time mums (a massive job in itself!). Whilst on maternity leave, I was asked by one woman what I ‘do all day’. After outlining a typical day consisting of feeding the baby, changing the baby, taking baby out, lunch with baby, playtime, bath and oh the day has gone, she looked visibly unimpressed and said ‘so you don’t work then’. It was a statement rather than a question. Of course I put her straight, but it was frustrating that she should think that taking care of my child was not work and wrongly assume that I did nothing else. Every mother knows that childcare is a full time job. Everything else is your side-line.

You can’t win either way.

I have been back at work now for just over a week and although it was difficult at first, not to mention exhausting, it has also been exhilarating. I truly believe that returning to work (whether that be one day a week or full time and provided of course that you have help or can afford childcare) has its benefits. Having a child is a wonderful thing, but that doesn’t mean that you simply have to define yourself as ‘just a mum’ and erase all that you were before. Getting back into the adult world can help you to regain your confidence and focus, not to mention help your bank balance so that you can buy your little one even more unnecessary items!

So if you are worried or feeling guilty about going back to work or maybe if you are worried about NOT going back to work and becoming a stay at home mum here is my advice: whatever you choose your children will always be your number one priority. So don’t let anyone tell you what to do. Do what’s best for yourself and your family.

After all, happy mum = happy babe.

Are you a working mum? Or did you choose to stay at home? If anyone needs any tips on how to survive moving from the baby room to the boardroom check out this helpful article Working Mum Survival Guide.

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13 Comments

  1. 11th November 2015 / 8:46 am

    I see that you are blogging a lot more now that you are back at work too. Being in that “working mind set” can certainly make you more productive. I wish you all the best as you balance your career with being a mum. It takes a strong woman to be able to do both. Good on you!

    • Ekaterina
      11th November 2015 / 8:47 am

      Thank you Sia! It’s amazing how much you can fit in at 5am! 🙂

  2. 3rd November 2015 / 4:16 pm

    Congratulations on all that hard work, and I hope your kid’s doing well. As a guy whose Mom essentially postponed her entire career to raise him and two brothers, I agree wholeheartedly with that last sentence. We can only give our best to others when we’re at our most happy and psychologically sound. To that end, it’s important to remember that parents can always go back to work later in life if they can’t when children are young. My Mom went back to school and few years ago at the age of 54 and now is about to get a PhD.

    Also, I’m glad you guys have the option of maternity leave over there across the pond. The US has no legally binding maternity leave option and it sucks. Keep taking advantage of it!

    • Ekaterina
      3rd November 2015 / 4:43 pm

      Thank you! And may I say huge well done to your mum! Wow! Yes we are lucky here with maternity leave although some companies still make it difficult for mothers to return to work.

  3. Lesley Snell
    3rd November 2015 / 8:39 am

    I really should have mentioned my wonderful son in law who has his own business and has the flexibility my daughters work in the intensive care unit doesn’t allow . He s a wonderful example of the modern man who cares for his son and supports his wife in the demands of her career while working at his own. Our baby is the centre of all of our lives and it shows in his happiness and well being. There is no one size fits all when it comes to family arrangements and child care.

    • Ekaterina
      3rd November 2015 / 8:40 am

      Hear Hear!

  4. 3rd November 2015 / 8:13 am

    I think in the real world, everyone has to work and there is nothing wrong with liking your job either. In fact that is a nice position to be in 🙂

    You have a family who is able to look after Pip and you need the money for everyones future so there is no real decision to be made. I’m sure in years to come Pip will be grateful to have a Mum like you rather than squandering around at home.

    Besides in a few years time, Pip will sadly have to go to school and at that stage it would be all the harder for you to return to work but the alternative would be to stay in an empty home all day long.

    I think you definitely did the right thing for your situation.

    • Ekaterina
      3rd November 2015 / 8:17 am

      Thank you Stephen. Everybody’s situation is different and at the end of the day, nearly everything parents do is for the child anyway!

  5. Lesley Snell
    3rd November 2015 / 8:05 am

    Well done Ekaterina for highlighting one of the biggest damned if you do damned if you don’t issues facing young women today. The simple fact for most women is that it is an economic necessity more than a lifestyle choice. I stayed at home with my kids when they were small because that was done then . My daughter is a hospital consultant who returned to work after 6 months off. Baby went to nursery three days Mum had one day off in the week because she has to work the weekends and the delighted grandparents are always wanting to help. At 3 , he still does 3 days at pre prep which he loves and my daughters hard work funds the best possible education and a happier more well adjusted boy would be hard to find . Benefitting from the flood of love from his extended family. We should be fighting for our daughters right to choose . Higher education even the vote are relatively recently won norms for women that still don’t exist in many countries of the world people should pause and remember that .

    • Ekaterina
      3rd November 2015 / 8:13 am

      Thank you Lesley and well said. These are not easy decisions for parents to make but the interest of the child is always the most important factor. I don’t understand why some people presume that we just want to dump our children and run off to the office at 6am. And as for the argument that you shouldn’t have children until you are financially stable enough for you not to work…well…how long are you going to wait?! The biological clock is ticking!

      • Lesley Snell
        3rd November 2015 / 8:44 am

        The financially stable argument still presumed that the best case scenario is for mum to stay at home. I would argue that that is not necessarily the case even where finance is not an issue. Some women are suited to staying home, some aren’t but neither are automatically better mothers neither is either course a guarantee of best benefit for baby

        • Ekaterina
          3rd November 2015 / 8:46 am

          Lesley I think we may need to have you as a guest author on the blog! 😉 Very valid points!

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