Last year, right before COVID swept through and took over the world with an iron fist, I had a baby. And after quite an eventful 12 months, I’m back at work.
While many, many1000 things have changed this past year, one of the things that didn’t was my nervousness associated with re-entering the workplace. With my first baby, it was exactly the same:
• Will I remember everything
• Will anyone remember me
• How am I going to work and be a good mom
• Why do I feel guilty
• Will I ever get time to go for a run
• When do I pump
It’s a serious mental load, and while finding time to go for a run and feeling guilty might just have to be things I work on, I have found being in a supportive, understanding environment has made all the difference.
When I had Kid #1, I was working at a small tech start up and went back after 6 months. Each day, at a minute past knock off, I sprinted to the train, and every connection, to make it home as quick as possible. Other colleagues stayed longer, put in more time, but here I was the only person with a baby on the team running out the door to squeeze everything I could out of the evening.
Surely, I wasn't the only one with such priorities outside of work? It certianly felt that way.
There were guilt racked days when Kid #1 was sick and I took a ‘carer’s day’ consoling a runny nose, whilst of course, still answering emails. Some of this was me, some of this was a just a feeling that I had to go above and beyond. I mean everyone else answered emails when they were home sick.
At the time, I was a woman in a semi-senior position trying to keep up. And there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room or opprtunity split up my hours. It was 9-to-5 or bust, even if I worked from home.
In the end, it became too much. The rushing, the stress, sqeezing of time and constantly questioning my life's priorites became so tiresome, I decided to look for a fresh start, a new way to work.
At this stage I decided I wanted a little more in life and began a PhD part-time, which meant I needed a part-time job. But, I wanted to stay in tech, it’s a creative industry while simultaneously clear cut in a lot ways.
From day one the precedent was set – it doesn’t matter where you get your work done
, just meet your goals and be accountable to the team. In other words, be an adult.
The whole notion of being seen to stay in the office past knock off hours doesn’t exist here and if I have a dentist appointment at 3pm, but can finish something off later at 7pm, then those are my work hours for that particular day.
Kiandra, in many ways, have been ahead of the game, putting trust in their people while also being totally understanding when it comes to normal life stuff. One of my colleagues does school drop off for his kids, and that’s just accommodated daily through a flexible work schedule.
Another is rebuilding a house in regional Australia. She Zooms in from there, comes into the office when she can and that makes her life easier.
When I was pregnant with Kid #2, all the anxieties from the first experience cropped up again even more so as I decided to take the full year off. Well, actually I didn’t, I originally said 9 months.
As I approached my return to work date, I had an open discussion with my manager, and said I needed another few months. To have a sympathetic response to this was a breath of fresh air, they got it and some of the pressure came off.
Now a month back work, I’ve already had to have a day of carer’s leave but the people I work with are supportive, they understand, they have a life too.
The thing I really have come to respect and appreciate about the place I work is, it doesn’t discriminate around whether you’re doing drop off, grand designing, taking your fur baby to the vet or coming off a year away.
Everyone, and their life’s priorities are treated equally and we’re in this together. For me this means, I feel a whole lot less guilty and have reduced my mental load. It’s good to back.