Six Things About Working I Will No Longer Take For Granted

April 2, 2024

Last week I returned to work (after 9 months of mat leave) and honestly, I’m loving it*

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Mum. But I also love work. Like so many new parents, I was quickly starved of stimulating conversation and the freedom to think about anything non-newborn related, so the idea of challenging my brain again, was quite an appealing thought.

But what surprised me most about going back to work, were all the little things that I used to take for granted, that now (with a new and refreshed outlook on work) I’m shook I did not relish pre-baby. 

So let me enlighten you  … whether you’re a parent or not!

#1 - Getting ready

Pretty sure we all learnt this lesson during covid, but hopefully this is a nice reminder for you all. 

For months I woke up and sometimes would remain in my PJs until my partner returned home from work. At first this felt like a luxury, but eventually it kind of just felt … gross. 

There’s something about clothes-hanger worthy clothes and how they can transform the way you feel about yourself. So even if you are working from home, I suggest waking up and taking the time to dress for the kind of day you want to have. 

#2 - The commute 

The dreaded commute is now very valuable ‘me’ time. I’ve never felt so light as I do walking to and from the station, playing my fave songs, and soaking in the outdoors (without my 12kg bubba strapped to my chest). I don’t even mind being crammed in a train with 100 other randoms, while I get lost in my podcast or book. 

My advice to you all, is to use this time selfishly and/or wisely. So if that means watching your favourite trash show without judgment, go for it. If you wanna meditate, do it. Calling and catching up with some old mates, get it done! Just please don’t waste that precious time. 

#3 - A lunch 'break'!

I used to be that gal often ‘too busy’ to participate in the social activities at work, and thought that I was a better employee for it. But it’s just not true. Hopeful Monsters is one of the most generous places I’ve worked, particularly when it comes to life/work balance. 

When work offers you some time out to quickly recharge, whether that be a trip to the pool, some beers at the pub, a walk in the park, (a trip to Fiji!) take them up on the offer. You will feel better for it! And more often than not, the answers to your problems will become so much clearer with a little time away from your desk and laptop. 

#4 - Learning by proxy 

I like to think of myself as someone who likes to keep her finger on the pulse, but at the end of the day I have my interests and I will often get info from the same old places.

The beauty of working in the office and speaking to or simply overhearing different people all day, is the diversity of thought, opinions and news that you’re suddenly opened up to. 

Hopeful Monsters takes this one step further with the Hopeful Monsters Institute, so we’re encouraged to be infectiously curious and to look at the world differently. 

But truly, after one week of returning to work, I already feel like I’m a much more inquisitive and receptive person.

#5 - The team

OK, this one I’ve almost always been grateful for. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have some amazing managers and incredible colleagues, but my appreciation for the team at Hopeful Monsters has increased exponentially more since my return.

Being a stay-at-home parent can feel very lonely. Even if you’re lucky enough to be experiencing this journey with a loving partner, it’s just not quite the same as having people around you all day long, pumping you up when things go well and having your back when things don’t. 

Life is exhausting, so having a big group of people there to pick up the energy when yours is lacking is such a wonderful relief.

#6 - Internal meetings 

So this one might be the most controversial on the list. I don’t know how many times in my career I’ve tried to implement processes and procedures to reduce the amount of internal meetings we have (and so I’m definitely not saying to ramp up your calendar invites). However, particularly when you’re a senior team member, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be out of the loop. While I was spending time away from the office, it didn’t stop me from wondering, and sometimes even worrying, about what was going on in the agency and with my amazing clients. But as per usual, we were thriving and I didn’t need to worry. 

The team at Hopeful Monsters brought me in for ‘keep in touch days’ as often as I felt was needed, and honestly, it was invaluable. It made me feel like I was still part of the team and ensured the transition back to work would be way less daunting than it otherwise would have felt.

So the lesson here is that the odd internal meeting here and there, to make sure everyone in the team feels informed and involved, will probably go a very long way.

I must confess that I’ve also been very lucky. I’ve been so well nurtured in my return back-to-work - largely thanks to the fact Hopeful Monsters is 100% female owned (so yeah, they get it). 

Our amazing and caring leader Katie Barclay has played a big role in making me feel incredibly understood and appreciated throughout the entire experience (so another lesson here in how to treat all those newbie mums and dads).

To sum up, I hope this post is a kind reminder to you all, to appreciate your work life – because as the saying goes, you often don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

*Please know I definitely do not speak for the millions of mums/dads out there who’ve had to or chosen to go back to work after becoming a parent for the first (or fifth) time. Everyone’s experience is different, and I know how conflicting it can feel. So if you feel like a rant, feel free to get in touch 😉

Words by Sophie Morris.