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Robin, our Portsmouth Technopole manager, shares her first week back at work – after maternity leave in lockdown!

It’s September and my first week back to work after 11 months off on maternity leave after having my daughter. This is a whole new world (on so many levels).

September 14th 2020
Robin Portsmouth TechnopoleTwelve months ago, my focus was on my career, I had no one to think about but myself and my baby, the Portsmouth Technopole. Back then, in my previous life, you were able to meet and speak to people face to face and hand sanitiser was only really required for places with questionable toilet facilities. Now, not only do I need to contend with making my brain work after 11 months of baby talk, I have acquired a brand-new feeling in my life……parent guilt. 

The guilt of having to leave my 11-month-old daughter with complete strangers without the ability to explain what is going on. This was always going to be a tough week.

 

My first day started very differently compared to 12 months ago. Trying to entertain a mobile infant with an incredible ability to seek out anything remotely dangerous to play with whilst getting myself ready for work was definitely a challenge. That said, I was fresh and eager to get into my new routine and nothing was going to get me off my course, or so I thought.

Off we head to the nursery to start our day when out of nowhere I am hit with that pesky parent guilt. My poor baby, she is not going to know anyone, will they feed her correctly, she will think I have abandoned her, all lonely and afraid without her mum. Is work worth this? We don’t need money to live… I’ll stay at home, we will live off the land.

I push all that to the back of my mind and with a steely determination, get her out of the car and march to the front gates of the nursery, or at least the back of the queue where all the other bleary-eyed parents are standing patiently, socially distancing, with their children. There we are, quietly waiting and out of nowhere a lump appears in the back of my throat. What is this? I am an adult! I am not the one going into the nursery, why I am I upset, everyone else is holding it together.

Before I have a chance to conquer the unhelpful thoughts, there I am, the front of the line, faced with the lovely smiley nursery worker ready to take my child. Be brave I tell myself, set an example to your daughter; hand her over and get out of there. Deal with the fall out in the car. I open my mouth to speak, only to find my brain has not actioned any of my requests, and my voice quivers as I try to relay information about my child. Hand her over and get out,  I tell myself, we can’t hold it together much longer. I kiss her on the head, pass her over and just as I turn to walk away, the nursery worker asks me a final question. Uh oh, here they come……tears. And to make matters worse, I have managed to set my daughter off as well. Well done, really setting that example of a strong woman for your daughter. Obviously, if it was anyone else I’d be extremely sympathetic but I am just annoyed with myself. I leave quickly in an attempt to not make matters worse than I already have and head up to the Technopole. This is not a good day.

I get to work and as I walk through the doors I am immediately greeted by Carole on reception, smiling (albeit behind a screen) and happy to see me. I head to my desk which has been thoughtfully and beautifully decorated by Sophie with a welcome back sign. A coffee is thrust into my hand and my day is starting to improve already.  As I try to remember passwords and log on details, I am constantly met with friendly greetings from the Technopole community as they all return to work after school holidays and or furlough. It is like I never left. The team and community at the Technopole made me feel so welcome, I quickly forget the parent guilt and was back into the world of the Portsmouth Technopole and am actually feeling really really happy about it. Looks like I won’t be living off the land anytime soon. Phew! I’m not very green-fingered at the best of times : )

So for all those new parents or potential new parents out there please know that parent guilt is natural, whether people admit it or not. Allowing your child to experience the world without the safety of your supervision will help them develop new skills which they can carry through for the rest of their life. It did help that I was able to come back to such a welcoming environment and have a brilliant team that was very well able to keep things going through some testing times.

As I side note, I can report that my daughter had the best day at nursery and now, five days on, is actually reaching to the worker to be taken. I now have a new feeling…jealously.

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