In the top left hand corner of my diary there is a number scrawled in black ink. It tells me that I have 36 working days left before I leave for my second bout of maternity leave.
Hindsight is a useful thing isn’t it? The benefit of going through this process once already has made me make crucial changes in preparing to leave. I thought it might be useful to share my experience here.
Last time: I wrote a 16 page handover document to pass on all of my knowledge so that in my absence there would be some continuity and the team would know what was going on. It took me ages.
The reality: My colleagues didn’t really use the unwieldy document (that’s not strictly true but it is a bit of an ‘in joke’), they did what they thought was best and do you know what, the job didn’t fall apart without me. In fact, the projects didn’t just survive, they thrived.
This time: No handover document for me. Nope, I have passed on relevant information as and when it is needed. This picture sums it up.
Stepping off the treadmill
Last time: In my wisdom I thought that my colleagues would benefit from taking on my projects whilst I was still available to answer any questions, fill in any blanks etc. I stepped away sooner rather than later; I leaned out.
The reality: I was so bored. I switched off and tuned out, I lost some of my passion and enthusiasm. I deferred decisions to the team and stopped caring about what happened (although I didn’t really acknowledge this at the time).
This time: I am leaning in. I am keeping firm hold of all of my projects until I have to pass them on. I have weekly catch ups with my boss to review where we are and what needs to be done in the next few weeks. I ask myself:
How can I make the most of my time here?
Adapting to change
Last time: I (naively) thought I would go off and have the baby, do my maternity leave, with some KIT days to touch base and then return to the job I love.
The reality: Yeah, I had a baby who I didn’t want to leave. Ever. Then I had to and it turned my world upside down. Experienced parents told me it would change my life to become a mother and it did, in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. Amazing things happened including my values being re-ordered which resulted in feeling lost at work for a good 12 months. I couldn’t find my place in the world. That was less amazing.
This time: I have got myself a coach and we are focusing on preparing to leave and what I will do when I am on maternity leave (cuddling my kids aside) and how I can make the most of my experience. We have worked on limiting beliefs, what my values are, what I want to do in the future and the legacy I want to leave behind.
My mantra: I am confident I can make this change
Last time: I had no idea what the future might hold, I didn’t understand how having a child would change me so profoundly, how leaving my child would affect me, and how I would find returning to work.
The reality: I do have the benefit of experience in terms of what being a mother means to me, how I feel when I drop my child(ren) off and go to work. I am anticipating the emotions will be easier to deal with as I have been there before.
However, I believe that although I will be ready to deal with the challenges of returning to work, it still will take me time to adjust. There will still be things I find difficult – like finding my place again and readjusting to work life after having time out of that area in my life.
This time: I am planning to include some coaching sessions (supervisory ones for me) with parents in my local community, supporting them in finding work life balance and empowering them to make a change. I will still be blogging and using twitter and trying to keep a foot in the work arena.
I will be focusing on work life balance and incorporating all the things I have learnt so far and most importantly I will be trusting my instinc
For the rest of the month I will be focusing on tools and topics related to parental leave