We spoke to our colleague Barbara Petritsch about her return after maternity leave. She tells an interesting story about her dual role as a new mother and a woman in a management position to which she was promoted while on maternity leave. You can read here how Barbara copes and about the challenges that she faces:
- Barbara, you have returned to a management position at UNiQUARE after a year of parental leave. Please, tell us about this year full of new tasks and experiences?
It was almost more demanding than any other professional step I have ever taken. One is really busy 24/7, there are practically no breaks, no holidays and one always has to give 100%. But, of course it is also a very nice job that has definitely enriched our life and made better.
- Did you stay in touch with the company during this time? How did the exchange work?
Yes. We have always enjoyed going to the summer party and the Christmas party. In addition, I stayed in contact with my colleagues and took part in a few meetings. This contact was always very important to me. At my own request, I was able to work part-time again after our daughter was 6 months old. This was also very helpful in the preparation for the new role.
- Why was it important to you to continue participating?
I don’t know if everybody feels that way but I needed some variety. It was important to me to “get out” between baby, changing nappies, sleeping and feeding around the clock. I didn’t want to give up the job that I enjoy doing completely. I am glad that this was possible without any problems. This was owing to the great flexibility in terms of timing and working hours. It was always easy to reconcile with the family.
- How was your re-entry? Did you get good support? Do your colleagues show consideration for your new dual role as a young mother and a manager?
My return to work went very well and I am also happy about my promotion to team leader in analysis. A major advantage of this internal role, in contrast to my previous position as a project manager, is less travel. I really enjoyed doing it but would have been difficult to reconcile this with our daughter right now. I enjoy it when my colleagues ask how our daughter is doing but I don’t push for special consideration.
- During your parental leave year could you gain any experience that will help you in your work?
One learns a lot: perseverance, patience, a lot of patience. I didn’t know myself that I could be so patient. In addition, I empathize more with colleagues with children. I know now what is behind it all. I always understood when someone needed carer’s leave but perhaps I understand a lot more now. I know what it means when the child is ill or – which is almost worse – when you are ill yourself. That is a real challenge as the child needs as much energy and the same attention as usual.
- How have you arranged your working hours and childcare; is there still enough time for the family?
I could work full-time for the first few months because my husband was on paternity leave. That was great for getting a good start in the new role. Apart from that, it was important to me that dad also took part of the parental leave. I would advise every father to do that because it strengthens the entire father-child relationship. It worked out wonderfully for us. Now we are both working again but reduced to 30 hours per week. This gives each of us one day off a week when we can look after our child ourselves. At the moment, we don’t have any “external” childcare because it can only start in September. However, we are very fortunate that we have the grandparents nearby and they are happy to help until then. Working from home two days a week thanks to the home office hybrid model at UNiQUARE makes support a lot easier and more flexible. This also leaves enough time for the family.
- Do you believe that your management position and your young child can be easily reconciled?
Yes, of course. There is nothing against it. One can also “manage” some things at home, which means that the skills can be used anywhere 😉. One can perform a management role in 30 hours per week, or even fewer in a short term. Anything is possible if you really want and can organize the time accordingly. Of course, it is more exhausting than if you have nothing to do after work. There is no longer the end of the working day. When I get home, I begin my job as a mother.
- What are your greatest challenges right now?
Sleep deficit. The nights are often very short, but we still try to get up as early as possible. We want to start the working day on time so that we can go home earlier and spend time with our daughter. The little one is already into everything. Everything must be tried and tasted, be it leaves or soil. One always needs a keen eye and quick legs. At the moment, everything is going very well. We also take care of the household together. Sometimes it’s a bit more organizationally complex to determine in good time who can take on the “child service”, but we always manage to do it.