My career was flying, I was in my dream job. A marketing role that allowed me to launch a global brand in Australia and New Zealand. I had all the resources, an incredibly inspiring boss, and the autonomy to commence new and exciting projects.
I loved my job and was happy to travel, take early morning and late night meetings with my international colleagues.
With joy, I found out I was pregnant.
My boss told me to take my time, that I could take 1 year off and she was so supportive.
But I was committed to my work and proud of the momentum I had built. My mum was a full time working mum and went back to work a few weeks after having me so I figured 6 months was all I needed to take off.
I was wrong.
I hated being on maternity leave as I was bored, and felt trapped.
I thought going back to work was the solution.
But at 6 months, my daughter was still refusing the bottle, woke up every hour and was just a little bit fussy.
But I went back to work anyway.
That just made things worse. I now had a new boss who was not supportive of working mums, my role had changed dramatically, I was pumping at work, and taking early morning and late night calls was destroying me as I wasn’t getting any sleep. I resented travel and hated the thought of being a 27hr flight away from my family.
When I was at work, I missed my daughter, when I was home I was overwhelmed with all the laundry, cooking, feeding and cleaning.
After a few months I found a new job, this time with an inspiring and supportive boss, I worked 4 days with one from home, and had no international travel, I found my balance.
I am now on maternity leave with my second child, and I am so much happier.
I have taken 12 months off, it’s harder with two kids but I’m more calm. There are crazy days but I’ve learned to focus on the small wins – did I have a shower? Win! Did I feed my kids a hot meal? Win! Did we make it outside? Win! Did both kids nap at the same time? Win! Did I cook dinner? Win!
What have I learned?
You can love your career, but there are seasons in your life.
When you accept the season you are in you will find joy in that season.
Enjoy being able to be single focused, when you are at home, enjoy being a mum and a wife. When you are at work, enjoy being able to go to the bathroom by yourself…hahaha and being able to build a business, lead projects, develop your skills and your career.
Role of ur partner can’t be understated- habits form when u become the primary caregiver and switching to joint caregivers is hard when one side has been doing everything. So make sure you make it clear to your partner what is expected when you return to work, and ensure the household chores are shared.
Realize your value, businesses that support you deserve you. If they aren’t supportive, find a place that does. You are talented, you are worth it. The businesses that support women and especially parents will attract the best talent and will win.
And finally, surround yourself with inspiring women who can share their struggles, their dreams, their aspirations and war stories, so at least you realize you aren’t alone!
– Alison Lee