Keeping in touch during the heart of parenthood
By Vicky Duckett on Monday, 30 January 2023
One day I’m selling in a story, reviewing a press release, writing a PR strategy document, compiling research questions. The next day I’m changing nappies – literally.
One minute I’m pregnant and planning, writing handovers, preparing to take off a substantial amount of time from my usual day-to-day norm. The next my ‘out of office’ is on and everything I have been doing for years – my routine – has changed.
The days then looked very different. I’ve still had to meet deadlines but instead of issuing a press release or ensuring my team has issued our latest inflation comment, I’ve had to make sure I’ve been ready for feeding time. My new routine has often been made up of playgroups and classes, daily buggy walks, meeting other parents. Although my days are different, I love them.
It’s hard to think about work whilst having the most incredible time watching your baby – or in my case babies – grow and thrive. You continue to speak to your colleagues – your friends. You keep up to date with new joiners, new business, the latest news. But you feel conflicted. You don’t want to think about work because you’re with your children. And as parents know, there’s not much time to think about…well, anything.
As each month passes you enjoy the new baby milestones and the different stages of your maternity leave. But at the same time, another month has passed without you in your role. And that’s when you can easily start to feel out of the loop. Combined with the thought of leaving your child(ren) panic starts to set in. And the prospect of returning to work seems very daunting. But instead of your maternity leave simply ‘ending’ you can ease your way back in.
You can agree to work for your employer for up to 10 days without it impacting your maternity leave or pay. These are called ‘keeping in touch days’ (KIP days). They give you a taster of the role you previously enjoyed and help you start to ease your way back into the workplace.
I’ve been doing two per month and have been using these days to meet new recruits, join training sessions, support my colleagues, and getting myself back into the thick of it. It’s a reminder of what you enjoyed before being off and gives you a bit of independence back.
I’ve found the benefits of KIP days to be threefold; they help with the transition of maternity leave and returning to work, I’ve been able to support some of my teams taking some of the pressures off, and they’re also helping to get my family into a routine with me not being at home every day. My son particularly enjoys them, as he knows I’ll bring a gingerbread biscuit home!
It’s always going to be a daunting time returning to work. But by embracing the KIP days they can help take some of the worry and ‘unknown’ away.
And when you do get home, your child(ren) will be so excited to see you that it makes everything worthwhile.