There is no silver bullet when it comes to returning to work after parental leave. Circle In Co-Founder Jodi Geddes reflects on the varying needs of working parents.
I was fortunate in a previous role to meet lots of senior women. Some appeared to have it all and some struggled through each day but put on a brave face. I never understood how so many senior women seemed to look in control: their hours were crazy, they were under huge stress and they had a family at home to look after every day.
Personally, in the early days of parenthood, I never felt in control. I felt every day was out of control. That I was never a good parent. A good leader. I felt like I arrived at 8am and had already run a marathon.
I’m a sucker for observing others; wondering what makes them tick and how they manage to ‘do it all’. Every chance I had when put in a room with another senior female working parent, I’d jump straight to the point and ask for her secret.
I will never forget the response from a friend of mine. We returned to work around a similar time, but she had twins and here I was struggling to cope with one child. What I loved about this particular woman was her honesty and the fact that she never tried to cover up how hard things actually were. We would talk about the hours we were working, how much we missed our kids, and just how hard the juggle was. We would swear, we would cry, and we would laugh.
Over coffee one day, we got onto the subject of our return to work. This is what my friend said:
“Returning was harder than I thought. It is about finding what works best for you and making it work. For me, I’ve tried to surround myself with a mix of people, including colleagues, who don’t have young children. I like remembering what it was like before I had kids—the ambition, drive, motivation to make a difference.
“I know returning to work is hard, but sometimes I find the constant talk about it a bit frustrating. My executive coach has no kids and I chose her for that reason. She challenges me to be my best me.”
And that was that. Her confidence was drawn from remembering her old self.
It really struck a chord with me. It reinforced that every working parent has different needs, different priorities, and is at a different stage. There is no silver bullet. We all want one and, trust me, if I found it I would patent it and sell it to the world.
For my friend, it was remembering life before twins. She saw work as an outlet that allowed her to be her true self. She just got on with it and threw herself in.
I loved her confidence. And I just loved that she was not too proud to admit it.
Written by Jodi Geddes, Co-founder of Circle In.