How is it not the weekend already?!
This week has marked a huge milestone for our family… I’ve returned to the world of work! Okay so that sounds slightly more upbeat than the reality of things here, it’s been an exhausting change for our household and I’m not even back properly yet!
Prior to taking the last five months off to
eat my bodyweight in chocolate, watch horrific amounts of daytime tv, look after our baby, I was working full time as a company Director with responsibility for buying and product marketing. Sounds glam doesn’t it?! No, not really? Oh. Like most pre-baby people I know, I loved my job and the pressures that came with it and I was adamant that I wouldn’t lose that just because I had a baby. A baby will just fit around my life. You know, in a small backpack or something, like people put dogs in (n.b. not me. A labrador does NOT fit in a bag. Tried it. Failed)
Like I said before, I cried when I left work. I was miserable for every second of the first two weeks. I had major FOMO (fear of missing out – you’re welcome).
And then WE HAD THE BABY (10 days late. Grudges well and truly held)
Suddenly work could just do one. Who cared about performance measures? So what if we spent over budget? Could you stop asking me about departmental reviews and just look at the pictures of my super cute child please?! And so it went on until the day I was due back came, and went….
I wasn’t ready to put my darling angel into nursery. No-one could possibly ask me to leave him for hours on end. People had to be joking when they thought I was capable of stringing together coherent sentences. So I delayed it and delayed it and delayed it.
Finally it got to the point where the questions stopped coming from other people and started coming from me. Had I lost the ability to work? Had my go-get-em spirit upped and gone? But worst of all… what exactly did I want?
I didn’t want to be a stay at home Mum 7 days a week. I love my baby. I love the things we do. I have the greatest respect for people who dedicate all of their time to raising their child. Buuuutttttt… I want a bit of me time. I like having adult conversation. I enjoy the perks of us having two wages.
Yet I knew that I couldn’t return to work full-time. Good god, anyone who has a child and manages to go to work 5 days a week is doing a brilliant job – they are demanding, sleep-sucking, adorable little monsters. I want to have the time to attempt not to drown my child at swimming lessons, to make him an oily fire hazard at baby massage, to sing and sign my little heart out whilst he looked at me like I’m possessed.
To make it worse, I had a major major major case of #mumguilt. If I went back to work I felt like I’d be failing my baby. If I didn’t, I’d be failing myself. Why do we put ourselves through this as a parent?! Everything felt like a compromise. So thats what we did, we compromised.
To start with I put on my big girl pants and went and spoke to my colleagues at work. I researched options for how I could continue to work full-time. I discussed over and over with my husband the pros and cons of nursery, which family members we could rope in to help with childcare, what we could afford without losing the lifestyle that we’re unashamedly accustomed to. I spoke to friends who’d given up work, friends who worked full-time, friends who attempted the part-time juggle. Every single one had pros and cons in a list as long as your arm but overwhelmingly it came down to me and what I felt was right.
So that’s how we’ve ended up back at work this week, taking baby steps back into the world of work and seeing when enough feels like enough. To start with my work is home-based, allowing me to work in and around nap-time. Having never had to juggle a child and a workload before, already its posing quite the conundrum as we start to settle into our rhythm again. Work is squeezed in amongst naps, activities and whenever I can catch a couple minutes. Next month, we start nursery one day a week which will be a huge step for all of us again BUT it will give us more structure and allow me to do some office based work. Finally, in January, I make the dreaded ‘proper’ return to my ‘proper’ role with a mix of office and home working. It’s genuinely quite terrifying as a prospect.
Whilst a huge part of me would LOVE to stay on permanent maternity leave, I know that the bubble in which we’ve been living can’t last forever. At some point this day was always going to come and my nerves, lost confidence and general terror were going to have to be pushed to one side. It’s been 48 hours since I started to do that and you know what? It isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.*
*I have fully medicated all potentially stress levels with copious amounts of tea, toast and sticking the offspring in the Jumperoo aka. the babysitter.