THE BLOG

A Pregnant Pause...

14/01/2016 11:24 GMT | Updated 13/01/2017 10:12 GMT

We've all been there. It's 4am, your baby wakes you crying and you spend the rest of what's left of the night ushering them back to sleep.

It's ok for me, I'm on maternity leave and don't have to slap on make up and drive 15 miles to work with bags under my eyes the next day. Well not just yet anyway...

But what about the trillions of poor Mums (and Dads) who do. It's the toughest test of attrition.

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Which is why I was saddened to read today that women that take longer than a year off to care for their children risk their careers.

That first year of being a parent, which is so full of monumental moments, where your child needs you most, may be cut short for many parents who fear losing out professionally.

The news comes after a panel of industry-wide women brought their findings to MPs, specifically the Commons women and equalities committee.

I know several Mums in high profile jobs that returned to work much sooner than they would have liked to. Writes, photographers, IT workers and teachers - all in significant roles they've carved out for themselves.

You worry that the longer you take off the easier you'll be forgotten. There's always a younger, cheaper version of you out there, more than willing to fill your Louboutins, so keeping in touch days quickly turn into 'don't forget me' days.

It's not enough that we have ticking clocks hanging over our ovaries, but now over our careers too.

And while a baby of course changes your life and priorities, many women like myself, who have put the blood, sweat and years into their careers don't want to let go just because they've become Mothers. Rightly so.

I'm one of the lucky ones, I work for a great company that is very supportive of a work/life balance and my boss is welcoming me back on a part time basis, with no questions. I'm secure and confident in my job and have taken the full year off. But, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that

my career will have been affected by my time off. A whole year the company has 'survived' without me, thus proving, that I'm clearly replicable and dispensable. Life has carried on without me, will I have to work double hard to prove my worth, and that I have 'still got it', even when I'm rushing out the door at 5.30 to collect my child.

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Nonetheless, I am grateful however that we have the option to take 12 months off. In America it's a very different situation. My friend Delia has just given birth to a little girl who will be starting daycare at three months old, because that's all maternity leave allows over there. I sent her an email asking if she was ok about it and if she felt it was too soon. I was quite surprised with her response "No it's fine, we won't be too attached so she'll be able to settle in to kindgarden easily and I'll be able to return to work without much disruption."

One of the women in the committee who brought these findings to the Commons Women and Equalities committee is Amanda Fone from F1 Recruitment. She herself said she would discourage new parents from taking more than a year off to care for their child, due to the difficulty of returning to a role equivalent on their return.

The rule however doesn't tend to apply to those in low-paid jobs, which have many roles available.

As if it wasn't a hard enough pill to swallow, the committee also presented news I think we all knew - that there's a 'pay and progression' gap, which affects women over the age of 38.

I can only speak for myself, but I'm actually ok with putting my career on the back-burner for a little while if it means I can work part time, if it allows me to never miss Boo's 'bath time' and if it allows me to spend the most important days of his life together. In this modern world, it's true that we can't have it all, so I chose what makes me happy most. I hope you do too.

Sophia is the Editor of leading parenting blog The Milk Drunk Diary. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and at milkdrunkdiary.com.