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Parents Panel: How did you find returning to work after maternity leave?

‘My office gave me all the facilities to pump and store breastmilk during the day, including a small fridge.’
Apr 3rd 2018, 6:20 PM 1,932 0


AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

With Easter and a bank holiday on the approach, we asked our panel to share their experiences of adjusting to life after the arrival of a new baby – and in particular going back to work as a new mum.

How did you find returning to work after maternity leave?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

I had a year’s leave, and then went part-time
I took a year’s maternity leave with both of my children. After my first, I returned to work pregnant so was back for only six months. The second time round I went back to work with a very, very large smile on my face, delighted to re-enter the working world. I’m now part time, which means an ongoing balance between paid work and home life… but it’s worth it!

- Denise 

Different bedrooms for a few weeks meant we could both sleep
Separate rooms for mom and dad in those early weeks worked wonders, so that there was never a time where both of us were sleep deprived. Weeknights done by mom, weekend nights by dad. One person needed to be sane to put up with the other tired and cranky person!

- Trina Dooley

shutterstock_212282212 Source: Shutterstock/

Without my mum, I couldn’t have coped
I was back to work when my first child was five months old, juggling three part time jobs.  For my second I was back when she was just six weeks old, for financial reasons. I know that I wasn’t fit to go back yet, but I was a single parent and had no choice.

I remember crying nearly every night because I felt so guilty. Without my mother picking them up from childcare I don’t know how I would have managed.

- Denise Cumiskey

Returning to work gave my wife some me-time
With four children my wife has had lots of maternity leave from her role as airline cabin crew. During the birth of our first three children, she was also a County Councillor, which meant she was still answering calls from the public while in the maternity hospital.

She was still breastfeeding when she returned to work as cabin crew after our fourth child. But despite the hassle, she has loved getting to spend a night or two on her own in a hotel while away for work. Long showers and even sleeping late in the mornings!

- Ross Boxshall

image2 A room with a view! The view from the hotel on the first flight after returning from maternity leave. Source: Ross Boxshall

My office were so accommodating, but I really struggled
I was lucky that I was in a position to take extra leave after my standard maternity leave, so I didn’t go back to work until our son was about 10 months old. It was something that I really struggled with. The whole concept of paying someone else to essentially raise and nurture your child really didn’t sit well with me.

My workplace were extremely accommodating. They provided me with all the facilities to be able to pump breastmilk and store it during the day, including a small fridge! I also work in a job with flexi-time, so if I was a bit late in the morning, it wasn’t usually an issue.

For the first year or so, my dad was still alive and we were all living in the same house, so he was there with our childminder in the afternoons. That way, Dad got to spend precious time with our son, and there was someone in the house that could keep an eye on Dad also.  All that meant that it took those worries from us.

- Olly Keegan

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More Parents Panel: How did your little one navigate learning to talk?

More Parents Panel: What’s your best tip for taming toddler meltdowns?

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Paula Lyne


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