I've been on the PRWeek mentoring scheme since March and have built an excellent relationship with my mentor, Denise Kaufmann of Ketchum UK. She 'gets' me, to the extent that when I announced I was pregnant at our last meeting she knew what I was going to tell her.
Apart from all of the advice Denise has been giving me about being a better mentor, manager and leader, she has shared with me some valuable life lessons. She's seen many women go on maternity leave and return. She's helped scores of them find a manageable, rewarding and enjoyable work/life balance. She also (as the boss) makes sure that all of this is achieved while not compromising the standards of service provided to the company's clients.
Denise has observed that women who thought they'd dread going back to work have, in the main, been incredibly excited to return. It's not because they don't want to be with their children, but rather because it allows them to be themselves - not 'just a mum', but the person they were before their child was born, for a few hours a day. They crave adult interaction - and with many of them taking up to a year off, I can understand that. She's told me not to rush into committing to too much. I can see the sense in coming back at a level/number of days/hours that I think will work for me, allowing me to perform my role most effectively. I'd be useless if I over committed and found I was worn out both at home and at work. She's also talked about creating boundaries, explaining that if I make these clear to the business, my clients and myself, we'll all find adapting on my return much easier.
Her final advice, possibly the most crucial - is to continue being an organised person, as more than ever time will be precious and I'll need to use it even more effectively and efficiently. It is possible to be a great mum and spend time with your family, whilst continuing with a career in a client-facing role, delivering the same high standards as always. Now all that's left for me to do is to enjoy my pregnancy and look forward to becoming a first time mummy.