I don’t know about you, but when I was pregnant I thought life would just carry on as normal after my daughter was born. I’d have the same job, the same friends, I’d do the same things but I’d just have a little person with me too.
Then… I had a baby! And the reality was that lots of things changed, in fact my whole world turned upside down and to top it all off I thought I was the only one this happened to.
Before I had my daughter I worked for a company in a role that I had chosen, that I’d studied for and worked hard to get. After work I could do whatever I wanted, I could meet my friends for a drink, go to the gym, meet my husband for dinner, go to the cinema… anything I wanted! My time was my own! Life AD (After Daughter) was very different.
On maternity leave, I missed the structure of work and felt out of control trying to keep up with naps and feeding. I found that my friendships changed. While I was available all day, my friends were at work and when they wanted to pop round at night it was always when we were trying to get my daughter to sleep. When I went back to work I felt like I didn’t have enough time to fit everything in, I was pulled in lots of different directions and didn’t feel that I was doing anything well enough.
I want to stress that this wasn’t PND, I wasn’t depressed. It also wasn’t a bad thing, it was just a LOT of change to handle and things that I couldn’t have prepared for even if someone had told me to expect it.
I was lucky that I used this period to move into a new career as a Coach. I started working with Mums to support them back to work after maternity and found that I definitely hadn’t been alone in any of the thoughts I’d had. The women I was coaching were all talking about the same things, frustration, guilt at not wanting to ‘just’ be a Mum, not having enough time and the high expectations that were being placed on them. Through 1:1 Coaching I’m able to support them through this time, to let them know that THEY are not alone, and to work out what their new future looks like.
We talk about setting new priorities moving forward, saying no to the things that aren’t important anymore to help protect and manage these new boundaries, and identifying new sets of values to help them feel more confident in their new role as a Mum.
I also started running small workshops called ‘Space and Time’ which really were intended to do what it says on the tin. Mums can come, down tools and have some ‘space and time’ to think about what’s going on for them. There are only ever a maximum of 6 people which means the groups are small and friendly and easy to share information in. It has been really eye opening to see these amazing women come together and share their thoughts. It always gives me a buzz when I hear someone say ‘I know what you mean, that’s how I feel too.’
All of this has helped me to understand that change can be really exciting and fun, as long as you surround yourself with the right people and don’t worry about asking for the help and support that you need.
A Guest Blog by Laura Duggal
Laura lives in Cheltenham with her husband and 3 year old daughter. If you would like more information about working with Laura as a Coach to support you back to work after maternity or a career break, you can find her at Facebook.