Why my first unofficial ‘Return To Work’ day after maternity leave was sweet like chocolate for me
Today I’m having my first unofficial Return To Work day and it’s not because the office is closing at 2pm and they’re all off to the pub. No, I’ve been enticed back to work because there is chocolate at stake in a special Newcastle Quayside Easter Egg Hunt.
If you’ve read my recent posts, you’ll know there are two things that make me tick at the moment – chocolate and copious cups of coffee – so there was no way I was going to miss out on such a sweet event.
It’s also fitting that I have returned today because this time last year I was six months’ pregnant and hot-footing it around the city with #teamrabbit looking for clues on the first Gardiner Richardson Easter Egg Hunt.
Despite being classed as an ‘obese, older mum-to-be’ by medics, I stood by my company’s motto and inspired belief in myself that I could do it. We walked about six miles around the city that day and it was my team ‘#teamrabbit’ who were crowned the winners.
While this year my new group ‘#teamlamb’ hasn’t had to cover as many miles, it’s just as much fun competing against #teamduck. I did have a rather heavier load to carry around the course with me this time though…so we should have had a headstart!
The event got me thinking about my actual return to work in less than a month’s time.
Now it can be quite daunting for a new mum over 40 to return to the workplace after almost a year of maternity leave. There’s often no time to tell your story to the new faces in the office who’ve been landed with covering your workload.
That’s why I’ve kept in touch with my friends and colleagues at GR during my time off and why I still feel in the loop on things. I also know they can’t wait for me to be back – since I was shown to my new desk as soon as I walked through the door!
There have been awards, client wins, new starters and leavers since I exchanged my notepad and pen for nappies and bottle of Aptamil a year ago, but I know all that because I’m part of the GR family.
I might not know yet how I’ll manage the morning rush hour, Cyrus’s drop-off and pick-up, H’s dinner, a lack of sleep or the job, but I know I’ll be eased back into things gently.
Returning to work is all about planning, which is why I planned this unofficial ‘Return To Work’ day first.
Many women find their confidence takes a dip when returning to the office, but taking part in this fun activity has given me the chance to re-acquaint myself with the world of work, meet new faces and get to know them a bit too. It’s been team-building at its best.
It’s also given them a chance to learn about me… the one-woman band armed with a bottle of Aptamil and furry bunny in one hand and mobile phone in the other. Who needs cymbals and a drum when you have a rucksack on your back and baby drool down your front!
For me, today hasn’t just been about an Easter Egg Hunt. It’s been an exhilarating and therapeutic day. I’ve connected with people in my team I didn’t know, reconnected with those I did and that has given me the confidence to know I won’t just have to muddle through on my first day back.
While #teamlamb didn’t win this year’s Quayside Easter Egg Hunt, the event was a win-win for me. The boss bought everyone chocolate eggs any way, so that meant one happy baby and an even happier mum.
While I’m not suggesting every business holds an Easter Egg Hunt for those coming off maternity leave, an unofficial gathering or team-building exercise of some kind is a great way to feel part of the team once more.
For those of you who want to find out about our antics, check out @inspirebelief_ or for those of you who want to take part in an Easter Egg Hunt of your own, click here.
Taking part in the GR NewcastleGateshead Easter Egg Hunt is easy.
Download and print off the clue sheet using the link above. Follow the instructions, writing down your answers to the clues so you can add up your score at the end. You can also play on Twitter by sharing photos of your answers using the hashtag #QuaysideEasterEgg
We ended the day with a trip to Persian Delight – our favourite Persian restaurant in Stanhope Street, Newcastle – where H and I indulged in a spot of koobideh and tea…and Cyrus tried it too.