Hayley

Mom to Mallory

Senior Vendor Manager

Length of maternity leave: 8 months

Childcare: Daycare

What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?

I am American but am very lucky to live in a country (the UK) that lets women take up to a year of maternity leave. I took off 8 months total, one month before (I went off at 38 weeks but Mallory was SUPER late) and seven months after she was born. By the end I was VERY ready to go back. Funnily enough my maternity leave was considered short for the UK but though I cherished the time being home, my ambition never went away and I needed somewhere to channel it!


As I was off over 6 months my company didn’t hold my role and while legally they had to give me one at the same level, I wanted to try to get a promotion track role. I had an insane goal of making up the time I lost on maternity leave and being promoted within the timeframe I was on pre-leave. I had a pretty ridiculous journey to secure a role that would put me on a quick promo track but I did it. However that did mean I felt like I had zero time to breathe for the first eight months back. And now that I’ve been promoted I’m even busier! That being said, my company is really into flexible working and has been very understanding if I need to take a sick day because of Mallory!


Also my husband has been SO supportive and really backed me while I pursued my promotion. I travel a fair bit for work and knowing he can adjust his schedule to make sure he can do drop off and pick up has been so key for me.

What do you find difficult about being a working parent?

We live in London and have ZERO family here. We’ve been super lucky to have very kind friends who have volunteered to babysit so we can have date nights, but if Mallory is sick during the week it’s just my husband and I. She was sick for four days a week after starting nursery (what Brit’s call daycare) and I couldn’t believe I had to take time off RIGHT after going back.


This also means I’ve had to be RUTHLESS with my time. I will get up and walk out of meetings that are overrunning if they mean I’ll be late for pick up. This was a hard adjustment at first - leaving before all my coworkers and not being able to put in late hours at the office. But it’s important for me to have quality time with Mallory in the evening. Also, I am always tired!

What do you enjoy about being a working parent?

Honestly, being a working parent has made me a better parent. I found maternity leave quite stressful and ended up developing some anxiety issues that took a while and medical help to get through. Having the routine of work has helped me structure my life better and create very important 'me time'. I feel more energized during my time with Mallory and I feel like I’m able to give her my best momming a lot more than I did while on maternity leave.


I also am a third generation working mom and I feel proud of continuing the trend. As I move up the chain I see fewer and fewer women ahead of me and I am determined to keep breaking barriers.

After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?

I think being back at work has really shown me how key a supportive partner is to a woman’s success in the work place. My husband is a true co-parent and I am so thankful for him! Also I feel companies need to do more to support women on their maternity leave journey - particularly in countries that offer long leave. I am currently working to roll out a maternity leave framework for my company that will help make sure a woman’s development is looked after while they're on leave and that they feel supported when returning as it made me really mad that I didn’t have that during my experience.


And I am SO SO SO pro flexible working now. I think it’s so important. Being able to come to work early and leave early has made things so much easier. Also being able to work from home when I need it is great. I am constantly mad my husbands company isn’t as flexible.


Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work or getting ramped up in your role?

I would tell myself that your career won’t end because you’ve had a baby and that being a working parent will actually help you be a more confident, efficient and self advocating worker.


What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?

Daycare


We LOVE our daycare. They have been amazing for Mallory. However as Mallory was the youngest there when she joined I did worry that they weren’t looking after her properly as all her peers could already crawl etc. Also they pretty much just had her conform to their schedule and only nap once a day, which I wasn’t happy with when she was small. That all being said:


Pros:

-Very small staff to student ratio (one staff member per three kids) so I feel she’s being well cared for

-Super hands on learning. Mallory does so many cool, educational activities and I can really see them helping her development

-Homey feel. It’s in an old Victorian mansion, so it feels like she’s still in a home environment

-They provide all food! Healthy balanced food!


Cons:

-Mallory has pretty much had a cold since joining! Building that immune system up

-COST!!!! A strongly rated London nursery is NOT cheap. We won’t be able to think of having another baby until she’s close to starting school because we just can’t afford it. If it wasn’t so expensive I definitely would have aimed for three years spacing


Anything else to share?


Don’t feel guilty if you’re excited/ happy to go back to work! I struggled with mom guilt over this at first but now I see how happy Mallory is at nursery and I know we’re both better off. She’s getting a much more recharged and engaged mom.

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