Is the return to work after maternity leave looming over you? Something you know is approaching far too quickly, but you just can’t bring yourself to think about just yet? I know that’s exactly how I felt earlier this year as June drew closer and the timer on my year off, getting to know my beautiful bundle of fun, frantically ticked away. Just where had the year gone?!
I’m not sure what it was that I was worrying about most. That Madeline would feel I’d abandoned her? I’d miss key moments in her life and those all important firsts? That I wouldn’t remember how to ‘work’? Or, I’d just simply miss having all that time at home, leisurely planning my days and fulfilling my own agenda? But, what I’ve learnt since my return is that I needn’t have worried so much. Life is good.
Madeline loves her days spent with her grandparents and her auntie who also has a little boy only six weeks older for her to play with. I won’t lie, she really does cry when I leave her in the morning and that’s tough. Really tough. But, I always listen in as the door closes and she stops right away, the cheeky monkey.
As for firsts, she’s developing quickly, learning something new every day and it’s lovely to see. I don’t feel that I miss anything majorly and there are even a few things that she’s learnt as a result of spending time with someone else. For example, she’s learnt the actions to a sunday school song that her nana taught her, it’s very cute and she is full of smiles as she shows me her new trick. If I’m honest, I’d be a little upset if she took her first steps while I’m busy at work, but all the family are under strict instructions to give her a gentle push if it looks likely (I’m joking! Ha!).
And, work? I’ve actually really enjoyed it. I get to have a bit of me time while sat at my desk surrounded by adult company and, of course you don’t forget how to do your job. You’ve had a baby, not a brain transplant (although, I know sometimes everything feels a bit hazy, especially after that all-nighter your tinker decided to pull before your first day back!).
If anything, I feel that having a baby has improved my efficiency and organisational skills at work. I mean, all mummies know that you have to learn to get things done quickly after having a baby. There’s no time for procrastination. Those nap times don’t last long and you have to sort the washing, clean the whole house and prepare lunch in that time, right? Well, this is a transferrable skill!
I’m going to list a few of the positives of returning to work in the hope that someone googling how to survive their first week back at work (as I did), will stumble across the post and realise it’s not that bad. It’s completely understandable that you will miss that beautiful little baby that lived within you for nine months and has been attached at the hip ever since, and I’m sure that at some point in that first week you will shed a tear or two. But, there are perks – every cloud and all that!
- If you have an office job*, you get to sit down for fairly long periods of time. None of that up and down you have been used to on maternity leave and continually chasing after a baby on the move. You may have to occsionally get up to use the ‘ladies’ (really should have taken those pelvic floor exercises more seriously!) or pop into your boss’ office. But, hey, this isn’t an excuse to be lazy!
- You can drink a whole cup of tea/coffee while it’s still warm. And, not just one… you can have as many as you like. Why not treat yourself and have a biscuit too. If you’re really lucky, someone might even make it for you. Got to love the tea round (unless it’s your turn!). The same applies to lunch…
- You can enjoy adult conversation (I don’t mean x-rated, unless that is your thing. In which case, I will mind my own business). I mean, it is lovely watching Phil and Holly each morning, but it’s really not the same as having a proper grown-up chat. I look forward to going into work and having a good giggle with work colleagues (just remember to cross off those to-dos at the same time). And, even discussing work related issues, it’s great to engage in sophistocated conversation, as opposed to spending each and every day singing nursery rhymes and playing peek-a-boo. NB. I do love this too!
- People take you seriously when you are responsible for a little one. Being a parent makes you a grown-up now, apparently. Once you have a child, it doesn’t matter about age, class, education or seniority, to a certain extent you are on the same level as anyone else that has a child. You have a shared understanding and something you can always talk about. This is great for meetings and networking, so be sure to use to your advantage.
- You get a little bit of you back again. It’s fab being a mummy and we wouldn’t change it for the world. But, we are allowed our own goals and aspirations too, right? Our children will be our motivation to progress in our careers and become a success for them. So, this is your chance to remind yourself of your skills, talents and the things that make you you.
*Apologies to teachers, doctors, police officers, carers, childminders and all other occupations where you don’t get to sit down all day. I take my hat off to you. I’m afraid that a lot of these positives may not apply to your job. Feel free to share the perks of returning to your profession in the comments below. I’m sure there must be plenty.
Keep going mummies. We are all doing the best we can! x