Returning to work… you’ll survive and so will baby!


 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!

  1. 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!
  2. 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…
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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

 

 

Finding a little bit of the pre-mummy me!

imageI tried desperately to think of something interesting to say… Anything at all. Anything other than what I’d been up to with Madeline that week (mainly consisting of play dates, baby sensory class and soft play!) and all of her latest achievements. 

It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about our baby girl, that would definitely have been my subject of choice. It’s just that it had dawned upon me that I actually didn’t have anything else to talk about. “What did we used to talk about before having a baby?” I thought. 

My sister in law had offered to look after Madeline (then aged eight months) for the afternoon, so that my husband, Fraser and I could go out for lunch. She loves spending time with her niece and we really needed a bit of ‘us’ time, so it was win win. The only problem being that all we had talked about so far, other than a quick discussion regarding the menu, was our precious little girl. 

It became clear to me that it was time to think about the dreaded W word. It was time to prepare myself for returning to the world of work. As much as I loved being a mummy and the flexibility of planning my own days (obviously centred around the demands of a baby and her very busy social diary!), I needed to find myself again. 

Fraser was busy working each day and in the evenings had commitments training with his football team and rehearsing with the band he plays in. He had a number of responsibilities other than ‘just’ being a parent/husband (and, I must say, very good at that he is too!). But, through no fault of my own, I didn’t have any hobbies or recreational activities to take myself away to (I used to sing in a choir but had stopped so that I was around in the evening for Madeline), meaning that being a full-time mum had meant exactly that. I had embraced the mummy lifestyle and lived it to the full. But, now I felt it was time to do something for me.

The mummy guilt kicked in there and then, how on earth could I even consider leaving someone who so clearly needed and relied upon her mummy? Plus, I knew I would miss her far too much. So, how on earth would I go about this? Was I being selfish setting out to embark upon my own career and ambitions? The additional income would certainly benefit our little family, so surely that was reason in itself, but we had ‘coped’ thus far (my husband would definitely disagree, often pulling his hair out over statutory maternity pay!).

I decided that I would wait until Madeline was approaching a year old and, if work permitted, would return part-time. A luxury that I know many parents don’t have the choice to make and I was extremely grateful for. Also, thank goodness for such fab employers with family values at the forefront of the business… A must for any working mummy or daddy! 

Since returning to work, I must admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve not only reminded myself of the pre-mummy me, but I’m fairly certain I’m more efficient than I ever was before and my organisational skills have improved dramatically. Being a mummy, you realise that time isn’t your own anymore and there’s absolutely no time for procrastination. Checking off that to-do list is the ultimate aim of the day and if I’m to get home for tea time, then there’s no time for plodding along. 

Madeline is 100% my motivation and inspiration when I sit down at my desk each day. I don’t want us just to cope, but for her and her future brothers and sisters to have a life where they never go without. So, not only have I ‘found me’ as I set out to do, but through having a child have become a better version of the ‘working me’ than I once was (even if I do say so myself!). 

And, how about Madeline? Well, we now have quality mummy/daughter days whenever I’m off and I cherish every single moment. There are a few less play dates with other mums and their babies, but we still make it work and have lots of fun together. Lazy days at home with a cheeky one-year-old, spending all day playing toys, singing nursery rhymes, reading books and having cuddles are by far my favourite way to spend the day.

And the fun doesn’t stop for Madeline who clearly has a fabulous time with the family that look after her while I’m at work (we are very fortunate). They all know to text me regular updates throughout the day as to what she’s up to. And, here’s the photographic evidence that she is full of smiles…


As for Fraser and I, we now have plenty to talk about in the evenings after tucking our beautiful little girl into bed. If anything, he often has to politely (sometimes not so politely) ask me to stop rambling on about work… He doesn’t have a clue what I’m on about and is clearly trying to watch the football… Oops!! 😝

Keep going mummies… We’re all doing the best we can X

Diary of an imperfect mum

 

Mummy guilt… 


As I sat at a busy Manchester airport, tears streaming down my face, a middle aged man awkwardly peering over his newspaper in my direction, it dawned on me… I’d finally cracked!

I’d been back at work for two months and had been guiltily enjoying being back in adult company, sat at my desk with a warm cup of earl grey tea (or two, or even three) and achieving a page full of to-dos each day, instead of my usual routine of changing half a dozen nappies, sorting the laundry and building duplo houses.

It’s always been important to me to lead a balanced lifestyle with both a good career and loving family and it seemed I had hit the jackpot, working for an award winning full-service marketing firm on the south coast whilst also boasting a beautiful daughter and doting husband.

Not going back to work just wasn’t an option for me. I knew that in the long run, it was best for our family as well as my career. Plus, I was only going back part-time to begin with – the best of both worlds, right? But, after a year of maternity leave, spending the most treasured moments with my little girl (and some bloody stressful times too, of course!), I was dreading the moment I left Madeline for the day to pursue my own ambitions.

Mummy guilt. There is simply no other way to describe it. It eats at you and torments you, especially as you wear a brave face venturing into the boardroom on a Monday morning after the dreaded child-care drop off, leaving your little one sobbing and reaching out for you as you simply walk away.

The silly thing is, while you are having some well needed time out from being a mummy, your bubba is having an absolute whale of a time once they’ve settled (usually as soon as the door closes!). Whether they be at nursery developing their social skills with lots of other precious munchkins (proof that you are not alone in ‘abandoning’ your children for the day!) or on fun day trips with their grandparents or childminders, they always have a really lovely day.

But, on this occasion I was feeling especially guilty. I’d been planning for a client meeting in Manchester for the last month, had worked extremely hard for it and secretly was looking forward to a quiet plane journey, with a nice cup of tea and a good book (The unmumsy mum – such a good read!). Our previous trip to Portugal with our little Maddie Moo had been stressful to say the least, so I was certainly going to make the most of being child-free for this journey!

At 4am I crept into Madeline’s room, where she was so angelicly sleeping, and gave her a big kiss on her cheek before setting off. It was very rare that I was leaving the house before she woke but I knew that Daddy would be greeted with her usual big cheeky grin when she woke and she would be absolutely fine.

My client meeting went well and I must admit, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I could do something other than being a mummy and there was no need for that self doubt I had built up inside me before returning to work. I had done what I set out to achieve and now I could make my way back to the airport and get home to my little girl for the usual bed time routine and give her a big cuddle for leaving her all day.

However, I got back to the airport to see that my flight had been delayed for over two hours. I knew it couldn’t be helped but I couldn’t believe it and literally broke down in the middle of the airport – how embarassing!! I just couldn’t handle the guilt that I would not see my daughter awake at all that day, and more to the point I really missed her!

Life is hard as a working mum. But life can be equally as tough when you are at home looking after a tiny person all day. There really is no right or wrong way and I think mummy guilt will come into play whatever route you take. So, I guess we just have to learn to deal with it.

I was so pleased to get home that evening to find that Madeline’s grandparents had kept her awake for me. And, there are no words to describe the reaction you receive as you walk through the door to be greeted by a smiling baby reaching out for a cuddle. I got to tuck my little girl into bed that night and for that (as well as a successful meeting!), the day was good 💗

Keep going mummies… We are all doing the best we can! X

Diary of an imperfect mum

A Cornish Mum

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