Let’s Talk About Work, Baby

I’ve just returned from maternity leave after having baby number two and it’s good to be back! But life has definitely changed, and I won’t be making a secret of that at work. 

A tweet from Sophie Ellis Bextor gathered attention last week, voicing frustration at questions about childcare during interviews about her new album. While I agree that Sophie’s childcare arrangements are hardly relevant to her creative output, I was encouraged to read Fiona Sturges make the case in the Guardian that working mothers are not an issue that should be swept under the carpet. 

Because going back to work after having a baby isa big deal! It’s the same job you did before, but with another job waiting for you at home as there’s now a tiny needy human to keep alive. Finding the right balance is a battle, and there will naturally be times when you feellike you’re not doing either job well enough. The notion of ‘Having it all’ is just exhausting. What’s more, most of us knowthis. So why, when mothers (and fathers) go back to work, do we expect them to pretend that nothing’s changed? 

There is a refreshing amount of public conversation taking place around “real” parenting, with influencers like Mother Pukka, Mothers Meetings and Peanut championing working mothers. Social media can play a big role in reducing the isolation that mothers can feel in the challenges they face. But it’s in the workplace itself where there is most room for change. I’m lucky to work at a company that understands employees are people with real lives, but I’m still in the minority. What could we achieve if more employers were willing to engage with this conversation?

Understanding parents’ needs makes good business sense. It’s no secret that a happy workplace supports productivity and growth. My relationship with instinct MD Jonathan is based on total trust and respect. We’ve found a way that I can work part time and make necessary plans around childcare – and we do our best to extend that to everyone who works at instinct.  We’ve worked hard to build a workplace where people feel secure and supported – after all, we spend up to 50 hours together every week. We know that life is full, and to us that means an abundance of ways for everyone to work together and support each other effectively.

So I hope that parents do feel like they can make work work, but let’s make sure we’re all talking about it too. And thankfully I work at a place that makes that happen.