"I went back to work at 11 weeks." Could you?
I had 10 months off after M was born, and was a (secret) mess for the first fortnight I was back at work.
So I simply can’t imagine having less than 3 months of maternity leave – but that’s what Kim Rossiter, a Senior TV Producer, decided to do.
“It was a no-brainer that I’d go back to work and Mike would stay at home – I earn more than him and really enjoy my job. I didn’t think about how I’d feel emotionally…”
I met Kim when we worked in the same TV production office in Shoreditch four years ago. I was developing ideas for new shows whilst heavily pregnant, and she was leading a team trying to cast brilliant characters for a new BBC series.
Our paths crossed again just 15 weeks after her first little girl Bessy was born. And she’s just gone back to work again 11 weeks after baby number two, Catherine, arrived. Hmm. Isn’t that about the time you start thinking about swapping PJs for clothes rather than heading back to the office?
“I was a bit flippant about it first time round to be honest, so there were A LOT of tears. Mainly from me. I just missed Bessy so much – and I felt incredibly guilty,” Kim admits. So why did she do it?
Aside from their personal finances making more sense, Kim has a vision of how she wants her girls to view the world.
“I’m a strong feminist, and I genuinely don’t see a difference whether it’s Mike or I going to work. In our family, it just so happens that it’s me that’s working. I think it’s unhelpful to constantly see the woman doing everything with the children.”
Working in telly might sound glamorous but the hours certainly aren’t. It’s a freelance industry so the pressure is on to deliver in a short space of time, so it’s not all that family-friendly…
“People at work assume that I still have lots of responsibility at home as I’m the Mum – but I get up at 6.45am and I’m back at 9pm so I don’t see the girls most of the week.”
(I particularly enjoyed her story of taking Bessy along to a job interview as she was still breastfeeding, and joking (-not-joking) with the interviewer that if she didn’t get the job the baby would starve… Ballsy.)
Not every Dad would sign up to the stay-at-home role though. Especially when your wife is doing those kinds of hours. I wondered how Mike felt about being amongst all the Mums when it came to toddler groups.
“I’ve got a theatre background, so I’m used to being in the minority as a man. But sometimes when one of the other dads comes in, in place of the mum, it sort of feels like the rest of the group are waiting for us to bond instantly and start talking about football or beer.” he laughs.
Classic. Sounds a bit like when you have two gay friends and everyone assumes they’re going to get together when they first meet.
I have so much admiration for Kim and Mike’s situation, but I’m not sure I could sacrifice my time at home with the babies when they were so small… so I asked Kim for the brutally honest good and bad points.
“I think the one thing that bothers me the most about going back to work so early after both of the girls is that I haven’t been able to breast feed for as long as I would have liked – Bessy got 13 weeks, Catherine got 8. If I was the one staying at home, I’d like to have tried to have given them 6 months of breastfeeding each, but hey ho….
“Long term I just hope they don’t hate me or hold it against me that I wasn’t around as much as other mums but equally I hope that they will be empowered by our situation and know that there isn’t just one way of doing things or that it has to be them, as women, that automatically have to give up work when they have a baby.”
A really refreshing view, isn’t it? I genuinely don’t think it had even crossed my mind that my husband and I could’ve swapped places in the newborn days.
“But the best thing about my going back to work is the relationship that Mike and Bessy have and I am sure Catherine will have too.” says Kim. “They are super close and it’s really beautiful to see. That makes me feel really proud of our family.”
Could you go back to work so early after having a baby? What do you think of Kim and Mike’s situation?