Ask Anna: Will going on parental leave affect my creative career?

Our agony aunt Anna Higgs addresses a reader’s questions about life as a parent in the creative industry. We hear about the advantages parenthood can bring to the workplace, but also of the inequalities that remain across some of the industry

Dear Anna,

I’m about to go on maternity leave and am feeling anxious about putting my career on pause. How do I make sure I still feel like part of the team while on leave? I’m also worried about losing my creative spark. Will being on parental leave sap me of creativity, or can it actually make me better at my job? Are the creative industries accommodating  to parents, or is being a working parent a hindrance to progress?

Anon

Dear Anon,

First of all, congratulations. The journey of parenthood can be one of magical madness – a rollercoaster without seatbelts. But, wow, what a ride! 

There are three parts to this question: being on leave, re-entry to work, and the bigger industry picture for working parents. I’ll take these one by one. But before we do that, full disclosure: I’m a parent of two children and have taken two year-long maternity breaks. I’ve had mixed experiences through both and, though I think it’s par for the course, it’s important to note that my thoughts on this are filtered through that lens. I also have a pet theory that Alien is really a film about pregnancy, but that’s a story for another time. 

When preparing for your break, I’d say the most important thing is to give yourself options. That’s because, ultimately, until your small human is here, you can’t really know how you’ll feel, or what you’ll want to do. 

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes