For 10 years I worked and played hard working in advertising in London. I loved working on high profile projects for big brands, with crazy deadlines and socialising after work in the many bars and pubs around Borough Market.
My job was hard work and I built a career in advertising rising up the ranks in Project Management. It’s a tough industry and I saw many of my Mum colleagues struggle with their careers and jobs once they returned to work after having a baby.
So when I left to go on maternity leave I knew that I wanted to return to work. I knew it would be hard and that the hours would be long. However I needed to do it, especially as I left to go on maternity leave at a time when I was really happy at work, plus it would also mean more cash in the bank after a year off.
When I returned I eased myself back into my old role although working for a new, tougher and more challenging client. I think I must have been kidding myself that I thought I would just fit back in.
It was far from that. My head was a mess of tiredness and baby brain. It felt full of fog, I couldn’t think properly, or make decisions quick enough. And, it took a long time for that fog to clear.
Coupled with that my daughter managed to pick up every bug known to man in her first few weeks of nursery including tonsilitus, conjunctivitis and hand, foot and mouth. So returning to work didn’t get off to a good start, especially when I was trying to prove myself alongside having to dash off to collect our daughter early from nursery.
I think that the early weeks really knocked my confidence, I knew that I wasn’t performing as well as should have been. That became apparent after being taken aside a couple of times to be told that I wasn’t managing expectations and the team were not sure about my ability. As you can imagine that made me feel like utter s**t.
I felt that the support for working Mums was not there. The promised mentor and support that was talked about before I went on maternity leave never materialised on my return. No one ever asked how I was, how I was finding being back at work, and how I was managing work and looking after a child. Just a small simple question like that would have made a big difference.
So yet again I put in my all to prove myself, by working long hours including the weekend and my day off. Life became a bit of a nightmare I was working really long hours on 80% of my full pay, but felt like I was getting no value or appreciation from it.
It was only when I discussed with my boss my future and talked about my career objectives, that deep down I knew that this wasn’t what I wanted. After a tearful conversation with my husband that evening I made the decision to leave my job after 10 years.
Handing in my notice was such a relief and a weight off my shoulders, although working 3 months notice was hard. I was really sad to leave, and I’m not saying I would never return to the advertising industry, but for now I’m hanging up my shoes in that field and concentrating on my Digital Mums course to hopefully find a job that can work better around my daughter and childcare.
It’s not like this for all Mums in the industry, but to make it work you need the support from your company and colleagues, without that it’s super tough. I don’t see my 10 months back at work as a failure, it’s far from that, it’s made me realise that a career in advertising is not for me right now.
So that’s my story. How was your return to work after maternity leave? I would love to hear your story.