Like many new mums this year, Rebecca King has only ever known parenthood during a pandemic. But while 2020 has presented pressures no one could have prepared for, this dedicated mother and Melbourne Water employee has managed to find several silver linings during lockdown — both personal and professional.
From the benefits of having her husband home (highlighting how important it is to encourage more partners to take their secondary carer leave) to the positive impact working from home can have on the perception of parenting, Rebecca’s learnings from lockdown offer important lessons for employers and employees alike. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca.
Valuable lessons from a new mum in lockdown
The day my son was born, the World Health Organization categorized COVID-19 as a pandemic. I was in a beautiful bubble with my new family, blissfully unaware of the chaos that was occurring in the outside world. It was only when the hospital decided to close the maternity ward off to all outside visitors that I realized the severity of the situation. My world had changed, but so had everyone else’s.
Being a new mother in Melbourne during lockdown meant my parental leave was very different to what I had envisioned. My husband had planned for three weeks off work with our newborn; thanks to COVID we got three months together and as a result we have the strongest family bond. Visitors weren’t allowed under lockdown restrictions, so by default I was given the privacy for my body to rest and recover, to work out how to raise my newborn and fall into a nice routine without too much intrusion or social expectations.
“Since everyone else was working from home, I didn’t feel like the odd one out, the new mother with a baby who couldn’t come into the office…”
The best part? My Keeping in Touch (KiT) days with Melbourne Water were entirely virtual, and since everyone else was working from home I didn’t feel like the odd one out, the new mother with a baby who couldn’t come into the office; everyone was experiencing the isolation that most new parents go through. My first KiT day improved my mental health immensely. I was struggling with my new identity, my new life, and being able to have meaningful and productive work-related conversations. It reminded me of who I was and I felt connected again. To be able to do that remotely meant I didn’t have the pressure of having to take baby with me, or the anxiety of being separated. It was so easy I ended up staying in touch with my team once a fortnight, which made returning to work feel much less overwhelming.
Long before COVID, Melbourne Water have supported their employees to work from home. Because of the pandemic, working from home is now the new norm. I love being on skype calls and seeing others with their children in the background, and this is now considered normal. This has made transitioning back to the workforce much easier and I am able to achieve a wonderful work-life balance, yet not feel any different to my colleagues.
“COVID may have brought about devastation to the world’s health, but it has brought about positive change in the way we work and balance in our lives.”
I work from my home study while my son is looked after by his carer in the next room. At eight months I wasn’t ready to be separated from him and I am grateful that I can continue my career and at the same time not miss out on milestones in his life. I also feel very fortunate that although I have been physically away from the office for eight months, so has everyone else! When we finally get to return it will be a reunion for everyone not just for me. COVID may have brought about devastation to the world’s health, but it has brought about positive change in the way we work and balance in our lives.
Find a workplace that supports parents
Want to carve a career with a supportive company like Melbourne Water? All employers on the WORK180 job board are committed to supporting women in the workplace, and are happy for you to see their benefits and policies on topics such as parental leave before you even apply.
WOR180 even makes it easy for you to compare the offerings of several companies at once! Simply select three employers and then click the ‘Compare Benefits’ Button. To give it a go, head to the Endorsed Employer page.