A pregnancy comes and goes nine months!
And the same is true with the professional exit and re-entry – only slightly shorter. The last months of pregnancy had passed quickly, and before I could look around, my last working day had come. I ended this with a last important meeting with the (senior) management team and then took my maternity and parental leave. Contrary to all my myths of an inner emptiness or boredom, I enjoyed the time of maternity leave, the time for myself, to the fullest. At this time I had no idea how much my daily life would change. On 2 January 2016, at 02: 16h, our little son was born and from that time on everything changed in our life. In the second of his birth, we learned a hitherto unimagined happiness, an infinite love, and redefined all our previous values. After leaving the hospital and getting back to our home, I needed about three months to find myself in my new role as a mother. I wanted to be a loving, fashionable and, above all, relaxed mother, what I could do now and then. But the parental year was like flying and I wondered how it would be to return to my workplace.
Back in the workplace, I was professionally quickly integrated again. Since I returned to the same job and had contact with my colleagues every week during the parental year, it felt more like I had been on a long vacation. But emotionally, it looked different. One thing was clear, I was no longer the same person I was when I went. I had changed. My value system had developed further. I had learned to set priorities differently and more efficiently. With my new self-confidence, I asked more critical questions to the management, said no more to all requests YES and reduced my projects to the essentials. I wanted to make sure to do the right things in my given working hours. Basically I had expanded my competence portfolio several times. Nevertheless I was in a state of inner conflict between my old self and my new self. After the first three weeks, I finally came to the conclusion: I must change something in my attitude. But how? I needed support from those who had successfully completed this phase and mastered it. So I was looking for role models. I was looking for mothers in my professional environment with whom I could exchange, advise and identify, and found that the emotions and attitudes of my colleagues are as diverse as the whole diversity topic itself. I did not expect that. So I finally spoke to a female executive of our company, which gave me one important impression: satisfaction. I wanted that, too. A short time later, I was already sitting infront of her, flooding her with my questions on working time and expectation management and returned to my workplace with six pragmatic tips:
- Tip # 1: Disregard your guilty conscience, because it will come anyway. Be focused and conscious with your body and mind at work or with your family.
- Tip # 2: Set boundaries from the beginning and do not justify your situation. You do not have to constantly apologize for having to pick up your child on time from day care. It’s just part of your job as a working mum.
- Tip # 3: If you receive an event invitation outside of your working hours, make a counter-proposal and note Tip # 2.
- Tip # 4: If you are offered a promotion, do not reject it from the top and ask for compatibility solutions such as, part-time or teleworking.
- Tip # 5: Inform your contacts in advance if you need to leave a (telephone) conference earlier. This creates trust and prevents misunderstandings at the same time.
- Tip # 6: There are time-critical e-mails and those that can wait. The first one is rather rare. An e-mail can therefore also wait until tomorrow.
I personally had this one conversation a large portion of inner peace given. In addition, time brought as much insight and new self-confidence. After about three months, I finally got used to my new role as a working mum and since then I have had to recall my six findings more and more rarely.
How quickly did you return to your workplace after your pregnancy, and how did it happen to you? Which tip could help you? And with what challenges do you still have to fight? I am happy about your experiences and comments. Love, Aylin