Director, Gemma Boss shares her experience on going on maternity leave and returning to work.

 

Gemma Boss, Director

I decided to go back four days a week which allowed me enough time at work to do my job properly and maintain our high standards of client servicing but it also gave me one extra day to spend with my daughter.

For me, this is the perfect amount of work/life balance.  I adore my daughter but I don’t want to spend every day with her. I think it’s important to maintain your individuality, to exercise your brain and have adult conversations that don’t relate to whether your child has eaten their dinner or not.  Of course I do miss her when I’m not with her and I remember the first few days of leaving her at nursery were horrendous with me crying in the car before coming into work, but she loves it there now and I know that nursery is helping to mould her into a more rounded person.  It also helps that she can do messy play there as I couldn’t bear it!

I’ve been back at work now for a year and I’m certainly loving it again.  Very quickly, it felt like I’d never been away and I actually think having the maximum time off helped me because I felt confident in leaving her at nursery and able to focus properly back at work and enjoy it.  It is still hard though and all the working mums out there will know the feeling – you want to feel like you’re doing your best for your job and for your family and you berate yourself if you feel like either one is slipping at any point.What I’ve realised though is that it’s so important to have a workplace who encourage and support working parents.  Luckily at Chalk + Ward we foster a culture of wellbeing so when I recently had a childcare issue that impacted an important meeting, the reaction wasn’t one of anger or disappointment but rather of understanding. It must be so much harder for parents who feel they don’t have this support because your child will always need to come first but at the same time, you don’t want to feel like you’re letting down work.

I’ve recently been appointed as a member of the Board which is a great achievement in itself but is something I’m even more proud of that it’s happened after my maternity leave.  I’ve clearly demonstrated my commitment to the business and I’ve been able to pick up where I left off.  My fears that I would change as a person seem silly now because whilst motherhood definitely changes your life forever, you’re still the person you always were. I love my daughter and my husband and I still love my job!

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