Different highs and lows to those I expected

General Details
Working mother
Type of leave:
Shared Parental
Number of years professional experience:
11-15 years
Length of leave:
6-12 months
Type of experience:
Work pattern on return:
Message I am fortunate to work for a firm that is very supportive of flexible working, working from home etc. and that my role is not too onerous, so squeezing five days work in to four is challenging, but doable. I was really happy to be going back to work and handing over childcare responsibilities to my partner for the remaining four months' leave - the idea of getting to sit at a desk for most of the day and spend more than 120 seconds contemplating and then eating my meals each day had become hugely appealing, after eight months at home with a lovely but very demanding baby.
My main concern on return was that I wouldn't be up to the work; I had few qualms about the 'people' side of the job (I am part of a large team spread across the London office and the globe). However, even though I was 'only' away for eight months, people I thought I knew pretty well looked through me when I said hello to them in the corridors. I was also surprised to turn up for my first day to find that my line manager hadn't arranged a desk for me; I had to do that myself (my mat cover was sitting at my desk for a week after my return). I tried to brush these things off, but my confidence was a bit fragile anyway and these incidents plus a number of other 'people' related issues all added up to really knock my confidence and make me wonder whether anyone really wanted me there. The work side of things was tricky too, but I gradually (very gradually - I would say it took about 10-12 months) re-built my confidence there. My take home message would be: it takes longer than you think to settle back in.
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