Returning From Maternity Leave With The Mortgage Mum’s Managing Director, Sarah Tucker

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This is my first podcast since coming back from maternity leave after having my gorgeous baby Jack, who’s about to turn one next month. 

It’s gone really quickly, but there’s been a lifetime of learning in this year. It’s going to be an emotional one – any mum out there will understand what I’m saying. The first year is a big one both for mum and baby. They learn so much in that first year, and change so much – and so do we.

Welcome back!

So welcome back. Thank you so much for supporting the podcast while I was away. I’m sure you loved the episodes from the guest hosts – we had such a brilliant mix of content for you.

This is going to be a little episode today – a really organic hello and welcome back, and a chat about coming back from maternity leave. I get a lot of questions around owning a business and having children, how we manage it, and how does it feel? Having a baby as a managing director is not something you see very often, certainly not in this industry.

How has the last year been?

Well, it’s been amazing. It’s been difficult. It’s been heartbreaking. It’s been life changing. Leaving to go off on maternity leave as a managing director of a business that talks about flexible working, that champions mums and women is still a challenge.

It’s not like we’re all breezing through careers as mums and wives. But it’s so good to have a safe space that allows you to work that out for yourself and make your own choices rather than being limited by the structure you’re working within.

I really wanted to role model what having a baby should look and feel like. I wanted to take the space after having a baby. I set this business up when my children were two and five after a stint on The Voice, and I was carried by that drive to achieve something beyond the show.

Deep down I always felt there was an opportunity to help other women do what I was doing. That momentum has carried me for years and put me on a roller coaster ride I couldn’t get off.

There have been lots of ups and downs. Owning a business is difficult, challenging, rewarding and amazing. It’s a lifestyle – and I was very keen to get off of the ride for a bit, while simultaneously not wanting to get off the ride at all. This is the complexity when you’re a business owner.

Learning to let go

As my due date was approaching, I reluctantly realised that I was very emotional a lot of the time. My emotions were larger than my logic, so it was time to step away and hand over the baton. I was so happy with my choice of Sally. She was amazing – before my maternity leave,  during and after.

It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the management team, but I hadn’t ever left it in the hands of others for longer than a few weeks. I was nervous to let go. I had some imposter syndrome,  wondering if they did great without me, what would I do when I’m back? What would my role be?

I’ve grown into the role of a leader and manager, having previously been a mortgage broker. Anyway, I let go and Jack was born. Once he was born, it was easier to let go because I was thrust into the world of motherhood again: breastfeeding, sleepless nights and not knowing this small, tiny human.  I had to learn all about him.

It was months later that I realised that Jack was my full stop. He gave me the chance to take a deep breath in and have a renewed sense of purpose and energy – and some new learnings.

I have been driving for so long, so fast. I kept saying to people, I’m 100 miles an hour normally, and I’m having to learn how to be 10 miles an hour. It’s really hard and challenging for me because I’m used to driving my Ferrari at 100 miles an hour. I don’t have a Ferrari, just so you know. But I’m used to living fast, and I had to slow down.

The beauty of slowing down

But you know what? There was so much beauty in slowing down. There was so much good. I learned to be kinder to my body, that had been through so much. I had been very hard on myself about what I ate and how much I trained. It took a lot mentally for me to be disciplined, to have the body I wanted to have.

All of a sudden, I had a postpartum body, and I didn’t want to go back to being like that so soon. So I had to learn to love my body. And funnily enough, I’ve lost the weight in the last few months without actually having to hustle for it. Just walking, fresh air. Walking is great.

That’s definitely something I’ve taken from maternity leave into my working life. I love walking with the pram, even in the rain. I did learn a lot in my maternity leave with Jack, and I slowed down. And in slowing down, I realised there was so much beauty that I was missing in life by moving so fast before.

Creating a work space

So I’ve come to my new chair – because I built an office during my maternity leave. It’s something I’ve always wanted. I gave it up in COVID because my husband was working from home full-time – so I lost my lovely pocket office in the house and worked in the bedroom.

I always felt a bit gutted about it and dreamed of an office space where I could record podcasts in peace and feel inspired and motivated. So I feel really lucky that’s happened.

I worked hard for that, though. I’ve just realised – Roxie Nafousi says, we’ve got to stop this ‘lucky’ syndrome. We shouldn’t say we’re lucky for having certain things because we work hard for them.  So I’m going to say, I worked really hard for this office. I’m really glad I made it happen – it was a great decision.

It’s added to the value of our house, as well. So I’ll be talking about the garden office at some point. I want to invite the man who designs them, Jon from Hawksbeck, to a podcast soon. He’s fabulous and I think lots of you would benefit from finding out how they’re built and what to look out for. There are a lot of rogue people out there building them to a poor standard.

Returning to work

I came back a month ago. I was very excited to come into the office and have some space, because I haven’t really left Jack before coming back to work. For us, childcare is a nanny: school hours, four days a week at the moment, although I may need some more hours.

She’s amazing and Jack’s really happy. I get to see him, obviously, when I pop in to go to the loo or have some food, I see him through the day, which is lovely. But there’s a lot of work to do and it’s like a whole other identity wraps itself around you.

I’ve been really fortunate to have had two experiences on This Morning already, and that gives me great excitement that having a baby does not mean giving up your career. You are just putting it on pause.

And trust me, you will learn so much if you allow yourself to pause and you deep dive into the world of postpartum and motherhood and embrace the lessons it teaches you. Then, bring those lessons back to your business.

Learning and growing

I am a different managing director today than I was before having Jack. I believe it’s going to benefit the business and my family, hugely. Having another baby has brought me home – to myself and to my family and it has reminded me why I set this business up in the first place – and how easy it is to get dragged away. You can be pulled from pillar to post,  and find yourself floating somewhere between overwhelmed, exhausted and happy. They go hand in hand as a business owner.

It’s really important to step back. If you are thinking about having a baby and you have a business, don’t be afraid of it. You will change, but don’t be afraid to change. Change can be the best thing for you and your company.

We pivot and move and we should always be growing. Growth is not glam. Growth is not what we see on Instagram. Growth is uncomfortable. It’s shedding a skin. But shed that skin because you’ll grow a new one, and the new one will be even better.

We have to let go to bring in space for new things. So I’m coming back to the Mortgage Mum with renewed energy. I want to make sure we’re giving you the content you want. I want to make sure we’re giving amazing service, which we always have done – that’s one thing that has never changed.

But I also want to be educating people. I want to be getting this in schools. I want to make a difference in the world beyond getting you the best mortgage.

Looking ahead

This is for those women out there who need to know what returning from maternity feels and looks like. It’s a bit messy. I’ve just verbally downloaded, here. This is the real-life version of me.

Ask me your questions. Tell me how you want me to show up here. I’m still going to get guest hosts, because they’ve been brilliant. But I also want to do some thought podcasts like this.

Let’s see what this year brings for The Mortgage Mum Podcast. I’m also going to be launching a new one, which I’m really excited about, called Manifest with Me. I cannot wait to share some manifesting tips with you.

Thanks for listening. Please feedback to me if you got anything from this, or whether you just spent 12 minutes of your life listening to the ramblings about me returning back to my role of Managing Director.