Kids, Lifestyle, Mum Guilt, Parenting, Returning to work, School

Your Village

As described in Wiki  –  A village is a human settlement or community.

We are all part of one and all need one, in some shape or form.

Whether it is family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, other parents, or even sporting team mates, as humans, we need human interaction.  We need people to talk to, to listen to, to be with.  According to the TED Talk by psychologist Susan Pinker, our social lives may have a direct impact on our longevity – therefore your village may actually help you live longer.

As busy working mums it is hard to build and maintain a village – but it is extremely important that we do.

So how do you do it?

Think about your closest 3-5 people.  They may be your partner, your parents, your in-laws, your siblings or perhaps your best friends.  These are your core.  These are the people you would most likely lean on when you need to, and you should.  This core group would be who you might call for a babysitter if you need one, for help doing something around the house or for some emotional support if you are going through a rough time.  This is your inner village. They are on your speed dial and you are on theirs.

But, it is just as important to build and maintain people in your wider village.  These might include your neighbours, work colleagues, school mums, potentially people in your weekly yoga class or gym session.  These people may not be the ones your call on for a helping hand at home, but these are the ones you might reach out to for socialisation, a quick after work drink, a weekend coffee catch up or a playdate with the kids.  These are the ones that will help keep you strong in your own identity, this is where your conversation may not involve the kids but perhaps include building your social interests and help ignite a fire in your belly.  It may keep your creativity alive, your personal space full and leave you feeling fresh and supported in your life vision.

Now that you have identified your village – how do you maintain or even build it?

Well this part can take some work and time – both of which can be in short supply for us working mums.  However, start by reaching out and getting in touch with 2 or 3 people and organising a weekend catch up – either individually or together.  Have friends or colleagues over for dinner or meet up for an after work drink on a night when you don’t have to rush home.  If you can’t leave the kids, perhaps opt for a playdate with other mums and build your group from there.  It can be just for an hour and doesn’t have to cost a cent as you can meet at the local playground.

Once you start it is important to keep up the momentum.  This doesn’t mean becoming a big social butterfly and being out and about all week (unless you want to), but keep a regular rhythm and catch up often and see how you go.

Do you cultivate your village?  What tips do you have to create and build a village?

, Maternity Leave, Returning to work

What should you expect, when expecting…

So you’re super excited and maternity leave is not far away – you have the nursery organised, purchased some really cute clothes and have had a tour of the hospital.  You have a few weeks of work left before you are off into motherhood – so what are the key things to consider with work before you go?

Clear communication

Most workplaces require you to document your maternity leave period.  They need a letter outlining the date you plan to start your maternity leave and the date you think you will return.  Ensure that you consider your dates carefully and keep a copy of this document yourself.


Keep in touch

Sure you plan to send through baby photos when your little bundle arrives, you will probably get some flowers from work when the baby comes and maybe a visit from close colleagues a few weeks in.  This is all great, but if you have intentions to go back work in some capacity after your baby arrives, then keep in touch with your manager.  Depending on your workplace and your relationship with your manager this could be a formal arrangement where you might schedule a few coffee catch ups, or perhaps something less formal such as a touch base email or phone call.


Getting back

As you return date nears, there is certainly going to be a few butterflies.  Considerations around the care for your child when you are no longer with them 24 hours a day, but also perhaps either nerves or excitement about getting back to work.  You are entitled to have the same position and same remuneration when you return to your work as you had when you started your leave.  Depending on how long you have been away, things may have stayed the same or completely changed – but your role is legally entitled to you and should remain as it was.

In my experience, both cases when I returned to work my return to work was different and not what I expected.  In my first maternity leave of 9 months I came back to an entirely new team and new manager – with all of them having moved on in my absence.  On top of this, my whole department had moved into an entirely different area of the building.  It was like starting from scratch again.

In my second maternity leave of 6 months I was asked to come back early (I had originally stated 9-12 months) and agreed to come back in a part time capacity until the 12 months was finished at which time I would resume my full time role.  However this didn’t happen.  I was told due to budget reasons I could not have my full time position back.  I worked in a part-time capacity for a few more months before I was needed back full time and continued on my journey with that employer – and that manager was soon relieved of his duties.

Everybody’s journey is different.   What you choose to do may seem odd to other people, but it is your road to walk mama – only you know what is right for you.

What was your experience returning to work after your baby?