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Returning to work after maternity leave

3 replies

Aurora791 · 19/10/2020 04:01

Wise ladies of mumsnet, I need your help and advice as I find myself sitting up at 3.30am having just settled the baby in floods of tears.

I’ve been back at work 6 weeks. I originally was only planning on taking 10 months of mat leave for financial reasons (changing jobs while pregnant so not qualifying for mat leave). When the pandemic hit I asked to use my annual leave to extend by a month, but this was refused because they hadn’t got a maternity cover, so the agreement was that I would come back full time, but using my annual leave to effectively make me part time for the first few months.

First few weeks went well, then a massive project got landed on the team I manage (we’re talking massive future of the business massive). The pressure is breaking me. No consideration has been given to the fact I’ve just come back, and am part time. The regular directors meeting on the project is on one of my non working days, so I’m being pressured to either find additional childcare (not easy at the moment), or do the meeting with a baby on my hip (my daughter is not yet 1 so it’s unprofessional, stressful and I end up not doing a good job of mum-ing or working). I just can’t get my head above water. I seem to be expected to deliver full time delivery but with only 3 working days. At the moment I’m doing a few extra hours every evening once the baby is down, but that’s not sustainable. Now my remote IT has packed up too so that’s been the final straw as I really don’t want to have to work in the office every day, and I now also won’t be able to catch up in the evening.

The pressure to deliver isn’t overt from people, but is constantly there. I work in a predominantly male industry and nobody seems to get it at all. I’ve had no gentle lead in back to work, no time to read into the project, and I’ve been expected to hit the ground running, all whilst working part time, from home, in a pandemic (which adds it own complexities into the return to work).

I earn a good salary and they have high expectations in return, but I just feel like I’ve been set up for failure in my return and I don’t know where to go from here. I know I need to talk to my boss sooner rather than later but all the exec team are 50 something males and just don’t get it when I try to raise the issue- they’re just going to perceive me as weak.

Sorry for the moany rant. I thought I was doing really well mentally after having a baby just before lockdown and the absence of the normal support networks that lockdown brought. But I fear that my return to work is just going to break me!

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ChakaDakotaRegina · 19/10/2020 04:40

That sounds rough! Rant away!

It sounds like you need to be absolutely clear about what you can do in terms of hours and specific tasks and concentrate on a few key wins - boundaries of steel!

Could you go to your boss with a plan of what the priorities look like? Could you nominate someone from your team to go to the meeting when you’re not on and just dial in to listen? Delegate someone else to step up and manage more project admin or similar? Could they get you a router or pay for a phone internet Hotspot?

Could you pay for someone to cleaning and cooking just for the worst of the time?

Surely some of them will have had young kids. It’s not your fault that there’s not the usual support available and companies should be supporting women returning to the workplace as a diversity initiative (maybe some hr team to back you up).
Hope your IT gets fixed soon and you get some sleep.

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Aurora791 · 19/10/2020 04:55

Thanks @ChakaDakotaRegina. You’re definitely right about the boundaries, I need to be firmer and more direct about what is possible and what isn’t. I have a massively capable person in my team who I can delegate some stuff to so I’ll look at how I can use them more effectively too (whilst finding the balance so They don’t get broken too). I think I also need to stop being so flexible and ringfence my non working days as I’m back full time in 3 weeks so I want to spend my last few weeks of part time having quality days off with my daughter, rather than juggling her and work.

Unfortunately the internet issue is their end- my internet is fine but my remote access account seems to have broken, so I have no access to the server. I think I’ll have to suck it up and work in the office until it’s fixed.

I appreciate that I’m so lucky to have a job to go back to at the moment, but I need to find a way of managing the workload in a sustainable way. Will definitely also have a quiet word with HR about supporting people back into work from mat leave more generally.

Thanks so much for the comments!

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NeonGenesis · 19/10/2020 05:06

I don't have much advice, but just wanted to say that you are not alone. This kind of situation has happened to most of my friends who have returned to work after having a baby. It's very unfair.

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