maternity leave

Holly Pither is a new mum to baby girl, Amelia and is similarly new to the blogging world.

She started her blog PitterPatterPither when she first went on maternity leave after feeling fearful of leaving work and impending motherhood.

She writes about the trials and tribulations of maternity leave and finds it therapeutic. In her day job, Holly is a PR Associate Director at an agency in Oxford, England. She champions flexible working, and doesn’t want working mothers to suffer in the workforce.

Over to Holly:

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Holly Pither. PR Associate Director at Bottle by day, wife, trainee mum and blogger the rest of the time (what little there is anyway).

I’ve been in PR for 10 years and quite simply, I adore it. I enjoy the buzz I get from going to work. I love stretching my mind creatively. I relish the challenges thrown at me and I thrive under pressure.

However, approximately two years ago everything changed for me. My career and my motivation, frankly got flipped upside down. I became pregnant.

Now don’t get me wrong, we were delighted. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter how much you desire something, or in fact, plan for it, when it actually happens it can throw everything into disarray. This is what pregnancy did to me.

Barely a few months into my pregnancy, it dawned on me that I was scared of going off on maternity leave. I was worried about pausing my career (if only for a short while), scared of losing my identity and I dreaded handing over my precious portfolio of clients and prospects to a maternity cover. Most of all, I just couldn’t deal with the fact I was going from being a successful PR professional to simply being someone’s ‘mum’.

I was embarrassed and felt guilty admitting this because in many ways I felt it made me look like a bad mum before I had even begun. Ultimately however happy I was to be pregnant, I simply couldn’t shake off this deep-rooted fear of having time away from my career.

I felt incredibly alone in these fears. I couldn’t find anyone else writing about the issue of maternity leave anxiety, and it was never discussed in the pregnancy books or at antenatal classes I read or attended. None of my friends seemed to mention it either… Was I just not cut out to be a mum because I was too focused on my career? Could I really love both my baby and my career? Was I actually experiencing #mumguilt before I’d even had my baby?

As a means of therapy, I started to write. And it felt good. This was the catalyst for my blog. After only a few days of the blog going live I realised wasn’t the only one feeling like this. In actual fact, there are women all over the world panicking about letting go, anxious about going off on maternity leave, fearful about changing when they stop working – and all the time feeling guilty about feeling this way. Yet, admitting to this felt like the elephant in the room and something no one is willing to admit for fear of judgement.

I set out to try and put an end to this. I want to remove the stigma around working parents and reassure them it’s OK to admit that they love their jobs. Likewise, it’s perfectly fine if they want to return early from maternity leave (as I did). Because being a parent is hard, really hard and if I’m honest being at work sometimes feels like a walk in the park in comparison to full time parenting. Hats off to those who do it. I have huge respect for them.

Writing the blog is tough. I have to commit my deepest feelings to print and often I feel exposed and vulnerable. Whilst it feels raw, (mainly because I always wore my game face at work) it also feels exhilarating.

Fast forward a year and the blog is still going strong. All those naysayers who said I was ignorant for starting a blog when embarking on motherhood have gone quiet and I’ve just launched a new logo and branding. Now I write about everything to do with working mothers, from maternity leave, to work life balance to negotiating flexible working.

I still love my career. Having a baby hasn’t changed that. But it has opened my eyes to what it’s like to be a working mum and the need for greater flexibility. It’s also highlighted the many skills you pick up being a parent that is transferable once you’re back at work. My patience and negotiation skills are on form!

I won’t lie, achieving a work/ life balance can be hard. I do however think of it less of an equal weighting and more of a pendulum swinging back and forth. I’m realistic that I will never achieve an absolute equal balance. I’m open to the fact that often it will swing one way for a few days and then back the next. This works for me and my family, and to be honest, I think that’s all that really matters.

I think what really touches me is that people are using my blog as a means to feel empowered to talk about this topic, opening up about their own struggles as working parents and sharing their fears. I don’t intend to stop the blog anytime soon, I’ve so much more to give and I look forward to championing working mothers for many years to come.

If you have a dream of starting a blog but have naysayers in your ear, telling you it’s not the right time then please do tell them to to, ‘do one’. There’s never necessarily a right or a wrong time to do anything but following your gut is a great thing. You don’t have to go all guns blazing to start with (for example it’s taken me a year to get a logo and a brand) you just need to start. Have a play with WordPress, or another platform, and see if you like their templates. Then start to have a think about what you want your ‘blog look’ and feel to be. Then start writing. It may not be right first time, and that’s fine. Test, learn and refine over time. This is the start of something amazing, so enjoy it!

Follow Holly’s blog here: https://pitterpatterpither.com/

Holly Pither

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