Lynsey Skinner is a Recruitment Manager for Cathedral Appointments and has worked for the business for 15 years. Lynsey has recently returned from a short maternity leave following the birth of her baby girl a few months ago. Even if you love your job, leaving your little one to return to work can be daunting, so we wanted to catch up with Lynsey and gather her thoughts on how easy, or difficult, it has been coming back to work following a short maternity leave.
Why only 4 months off when most opt for 9-12?
Taking only four months was a decision we made due to a number of reasons and in all honesty, it certainly wasn’t a decision we took lightly. Times have changed and with the new shared parental rights in place, we have been able to make the best choice for us as a family. My partner has had the opportunity to take the remaining parental leave and spend valuable time at home with our daughter, something he historically wouldn’t have been able to do. There were several reasons I returned to work so early, I felt I wanted to continue my career at the same level and continue to develop and coming back earlier enabled me to do this. We had also just bought a new home and like most others, can’t pretend that money wasn’t a big factor.
How is your partner finding paternity leave?
He is really enjoying it. The first few weeks were a challenge for him as he had to suddenly learn what made her tick and find his own routine with her. He will admit that it is hard work, tougher than any job he has ever done, but the rewards far outweigh this. He loves the time with her and gets to see her change on a daily basis. It is invaluable time that he gets to spend with his daughter which he would not have had if I had taken the longer maternity. The bond they have developed is lovely to see. It hasn’t been without his challenges, but I don’t think he’d swap back with me in a hurry!
How much time did you spend thinking about work while you were off?
Honestly, not as much as I thought I would. I think maternal instinct kicks in and makes you focus on your new baby. I felt very confident that the division was well looked after in my colleague Katie’s capable hands. I was keen to know how the business was doing as I was conscious about losing touch. MD Jo Caine, kept in regular contact, so I knew how things were going with the team and the business both commercially and from a personal perspective. We are a close team and I have known everyone for a long time and Jo made sure I never felt out of the loop. My only concern or worry, which is very typical for any return to work mum, was how would things be on my return, would my job remain the same? Jo gave me constant reassurance about this throughout, but I don’t think it stops any returning mum from worrying.
How have things been coming back?
I would not be human if I didn’t say I had some serious guilt leaving our daughter to return to work, which of course is completely natural. I love being back in work, I am passionate about what I do and I’m not going to lie - love talking to adults again! I’m happy to say that things haven’t changed at all in terms of job role, in fact it very quickly felt like I had never been away. Jo and the team were really welcoming, and I’ve been touched by how pleased clients have been to have me back. It’s not easy balancing being a working mum and trying to further my career. I definitely felt pressure to get back into the swing of things but I’m my own worst critic and it certainly hasn’t been pressure from the team. In fact, she is constantly telling me to stop putting pressure on myself.
What’s it like now Katie has joined the IT division?
Since returning it has been fantastic to have Katie on the desk. She is also a working mum and we have been able to both work four days a week and actually balance some quality time with our children. Prior to maternity I was notorious for leaving late and taking work home, I’m not going to say I’m not still guilty of this but now only when it is required rather than constant! There being two of us means I’m actually comfortable leaving at 5:30pm to spend time with my family and put my daughter to bed. I’m definitely still guilty of keeping an eye on emails to see what’s going on but I guess old habits die hard.
Any closing thoughts?
There is definitely an expectation in the professional market that people will have changed when they come back to work after having a baby, but this ‘baby brain’ preconception isn’t something I’ve experienced. I am back to recognising telephone numbers etc as I weirdly always did! I don’t think anyone finds it easy leaving their child to go to work, but it helps to have a good employer who recognises the time it takes to establish yourself again. I actually took the decision whilst off that I wanted to work four days in order to have a day at home whilst my baby was little, given I had returned so early. Jo was fantastic and happily supported this. New maternity rules also made it easier for us to cope with having a new little person and the financial demands this brings. The Cathedral Appointments team are like a second family and I’m happy to be back with them.