I am very lucky to have been able to take a years maternity leave with each of my children. I always have a bit of anxiety around the fact that technology and Kainos continue to move on without me. KIT, Keeping in Touch days can help with this. KIT days allow you to work, earning a days wage without affecting your maternity pay. What form this work takes is something you agree with your employer. For example it could be typical day to day work, training or attending a conference. Despite this being my third maternity leave I have never made use of a KIT day . I didn’t know they existed when I had Luke. I’ve breastfed the younger two and so not been in a position to leave them for any length of time. They are not bottle fans.
Every year the company I work at, Kainos, has a Kick Off event. It’s an opportunity for the company to come together and share via a day of talks. Each Kick off has a theme and this year’s was around connecting.
I wanted to attend Kick Off. It is a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, find out what is going on and get an insight into the future. The only thing was Emma would only be 6 months and starting her weaning journey. That combined with the fact that there are not a lot of volunteers to take three kids made me think it might be too difficult to get to go.
When I was catching up with one of my colleagues at work she suggested taking Emma to Kick Off. I checked out with the committee organising it who gave it the big thumbs up. The same colleague then checked in with me to see what I required to make the day go smoothly for me and Emma. I can’t express enough how important this support was to giving me the confidence to take Emma along. I’ve had opportunities to speak before where there was childcare provided. I’ve always shied away from it thinking it would be too stressful. That support gave me the extra nudge I needed and made me feel welcome.
I enjoyed the day, checking in with everyone, finding out how my last project is going, hearing about the plans for the company and learning some things during the presentations. Emma had a few moments. The odd cry, nappy explosion, a sweetcorn ring going down the wrong way mid presentation. I was always seated where I could make a quick exit. Once you’re on child three you are pretty relaxed about everything. My main concern was making sure I didn’t disturb a speaker or affect people’s enjoyment of a presentation. No one complained so hopefully that was the case.
If you’re on maternity leave I’d recommend thinking about using you KIT days. You are only limited by your imagination how you use them. Possibilities include internal hacks, bid work, assurance work, training or conferences. If you know someone on leave who is concerned about feeling out of touch or want to use KIT days but don’t know how, think about how you can support them. It might be as simple as making them aware of ways they can use them. It might be providing options for how they can make it work childcare wise for example the option to bring baby along or do a part day.