I have just returned to the office for the first time since 3rd August 2018, when I started my 6 months of maternity leave. To say it was a shock to the system would be an understatement! I thought that I’d be slightly more prepared, seeing as Hartigan is my company (my other baby, if you like). I’ve remained in regular touch with my team whilst being off, have a good awareness of everything that’s been going on and have been completely kept in the loop with all happenings. But no, my first day back at my desk was a strange one and I felt very out of my depth. Almost like I was starting a new job.
I think whether you take a month or two off, go full hog and remain off work for a year or more, are returning because you have no choice, or because you’re desperate to get back to work – it can definitely be a peculiar feeling.
Depending on how long you’ve been on maternity or paternity leave, it can be common to come back to the office and find that a hell of a lot has changed since you were last there. New team members, new clients, new projects, all of which you need to get up to speed on. Clients you managed before may have moved on, campaigns you worked on & played a key role in developing might be old news, and that’s all before you let yourself think about the fact you’re leaving your precious, tiny (or not so tiny!) baby at home / with grandparents / at nursery / the childminders. Wherever they are, they’re not with you! The first morning getting on the train into London was horrid – I felt like I’d left my right arm at home. Such a strange feeling to be without the human limpet you’ve come to accept (and even enjoy) being permanently attached to you.
All of this, coupled with the fact you’ve most likely been out of ‘work mode’ for a while, means it can feel a little challenging to get your head around everything that’s going on. Plus, you have to remember how to use a computer and type.
In all honesty, I was worried that I would have forgotten how to do my job. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Within a few hours, I felt normal again. I was also very happy that my memory hadn’t totally deserted me.
Now that I’ve been back for a couple of weeks, I almost feel like I was never off. Part of me wishes that I could have stayed off for longer, but another part is actually kind of glad to be back. I forgot how busy this job is, and the feeling of my brain working properly again (in a non baby-related fashion) is quite nice. Not that raising a small human and tending to their every need 24 hours a day isn’t hard bloody work – it absolutely is – but being back in Soho with the team, working and remembering that I’m actually quite good at what I do, is rather lovely.