We’ve all had that post holiday feeling, haven’t we? You know, the one that’s similar to Sunday night blues but stronger? Try imagining that holiday is a nine month (or more) break from the office and in that time you’ve had absolutely NONE of the relaxation of a tropical break…. and there you have it. THAT is what returning to work after maternity leave feels like. Not that it really feels anything like that. Returning to work after maternity leave is a far more confusing concept. It’s exciting and terrifying and liberating and horrific all at once and that’s just the thought of getting up before 8am again. In a bid to balance that confusion, I decided, like many other mothers (and fathers – hey there Dads!) to go back part-time.
I reasoned that part-time was the best compromise for us as a family. It balanced my want to return to the office – the salary, the peace, the no-child-hanging-off-my-boobs – with my want to never ever leave my child again. I decided that by going back a couple of days a week, I’d be getting the best of both worlds, bringing in a decent wage to support our family and teaching my child that working for things you want is the best possible way to do things. For the most part, part-time work does all of that but in some ways, it’s a nightmare.
The thing about part-time work is that you’re not really part-time. I mean, your hours are and your wage certainly is but, if you’re anything like me, your role isn’t. I’m fortunate to be in a high-level role which is great in every respect apart from the fact that it doesn’t end when I leave the office. My decision making and management doesn’t just stop being required because I’ve inconsiderately decided to spend half the week at home. What does that mean? It means I’m permanently on my phone, often in between juggling a baby, a dog and a zillion different chores.
It also comes with a whole new world of pressure. A pressure to prove that you’re capable of doing the same, if not a better, job than you did beforehand. I find myself working through lunches to show my commitment and taking on extra work that can’t possibly be achieved in my hours just to show that part-time me doesn’t make me a less worthy employee. Comments like ‘have a good couple of days off’ are well meant but carry an expectation that I’m at home holidaying rather than racing round like a maniac trying to fit in all of the chores, baby groups and various other activities into the week in order to ensure that our son gets the best of both worlds still, that we give him all the benefits of a stay at home mum in half the time.
Part-time is a compromise and I firmly believe that it will continue to feel that way. I have compromised on my career and I’ve compromised on the time I spend with my child. When I’m at work, I feel invincible and ready to take on anything. Then as it creeps toward the end of the day, I realise the reality of the situation; I’m not. I can’t do everything, I can’t fit five days into half of that time, I can’t do it. I start to crave being at home with my baby. When I’m at home, I feel the opposite; why would I ever want to leave him?! What would possess me to want to do so? I revel in spending time with him, chucking myself into a routine of activities whilst all the while being aware that work is lurking in the background, sneaking in via emails and chasing my thoughts in the middle of the night. Suddenly it’s the night before work and I realise how much I’m looking forward to getting a bit of adult time.
I love my job.
I love my baby.
A never-ending compromise.
Like this post? Pin it!
It’s a never ending battle with yourself, isnt it? I didn’t even contemplate part-time as I knew the work wouldnt be, but the wage would.
I totally agree that you have to prove yourself more, especially when you work in an environment dominated by men. The comments are well meaning, but they really don’t have a clue how many ways youre tearing yourself apart and trying to be everything to everyone.
You’re doing a great job, Dev. It sounds as though you’re similar to me, you never quite expected the impact on your career that a baby has had. Not a bad thing, I just used to laugh when people said my priorities would change…
Permanently! A lot of the proving yourself bit, I believe, comes from pressure you put on yourself rather than necessarily external pressure. I think my perception of what other people think is probably harsher than the reality. Thanks Nic, I really didn’t ever imagine that things would change quite this much… that’s part of the problem, I’m not sure I was mentally ready for it!
You are doing a fantastic job Hayley. It won’t be this hard forever I promise. In the meantime I am always here when you need to vent xxx
Thank you lovely, I think every mum feels the same regardless of how they go back! I love that I have you girls for a vent right on the end of a phone – it’s just the support I need!! x
I debated for a long time as to whether to return to work or not after my maternity leave. In the end, the sums just didnt add up. Going back just part-time we would be £250 worse off a month as child care is so expensive where we live, and it just generally doesn’t pay well to work for local government! So, instead, I get to stay home with my little girl, which I am so happy about, the majority of the time!
IT’s crazy isn’t it? I don’t understand why there isn’t more support for people who WANT to work! Ahhh that sounds lovely (the majority of the time!) x
It sounds like a constant challenge. Sounds like you’re doing a great job with the balance, but can imagine it must be very tiresome for you!
I’m exhausted enough just looking after the kids, I can’t imagine putting work into the equation too!
I think it would be far harder with more children!! Work is sometimes the peaceful bit!
I have been off work for just over 3 years now, 2 babies later it’s fair to say I’m quite apprehensive about going back. Like you, I feel like part time might give me some balance … but I fear in my old job all it would actually give me is a clear weekend, rather than having to work 7 days a week. Hey ho. We will see. Never know what opportunities life will throw my way next. I was starting to feel ready for work (my youngest is 21 months and my oldest 16 months older that that) and so I started blogging, and for now, it’s giving me something for me, and I love it, even if it is a juggle with both kids at home. The more I blog the more feral they become. Not really bringing in any money though… yet…fingers crossed. Good luck with the juggling, these little ones don’t realise how hard we work (whatever we do) to do the best for them. I appreciate my own mothers juggling all the more now. Kate x
That’s the beauty of blogging, we get to ignore the babies for a moment!! Good luck with making it work for you, hopefully it will bring in some money soon and then the whole part time/full time issue will be easier – although I bet you’ll find it even harder! x
I’ve been a working mum and A stay at home mum, I’ve never done the part time thing. It’s never been an option with my jobs. I know lots of mum’s who make it work, but I think whether you choose to work full time, part time, work at home or don’t work you are making a compromise. We were brought up to think we can have it all, but we can’t. We just have to make peace with ourselves for our choices.
So true. Whichever you choose there are definite compromises being made… who knew it would be so darn hard?!
I totally get you and it really is never ending. I work full time with 3 days in the office and 2 days at home whilst looking after the little one. I have to take / make calls, reply to emails, give instructions to my team back at the office and deal with my clients. It is a juggle thats for sure with some good and bad days…at the end of the week I always think…I have survived another week of work from home!!!!
Blimey Mandy, I’m not sure I could juggle two days at home with childcare, it must be mayhem! I know, the weeks fly by as well don’t they… and yet I never make it to the bottom of that to do list!
It’s so hard I ended up as a freelancer as I found that part-time never actually means that. Hope you enjoy!
Oooh I like the idea of freelancing, although it sounds quite pressured to make sure you have contracts lined up! Thanks for reading
I can really relate to this. I’m back to work part time in 2 months. This is my second baby so I’ve done it before. I wouldn’t want to work full time right now and my career is not one I can put off going back to for more than 12 months. But I’m not treated the same at work by being part time. Also we are not part time mums. Working when you have kids (full or part time) is hard. Leaving in time to collect them from childcare, them getting ill and of course mum guilt all affect us all. No easy answer as a parent really.
There isn’t an easy answer. I’d never thought of it as not being a part time mum. I know my husband finds it hard and he’s full time but in some ways that’s easier, the expectation of him is far less… especially around the house!!
I really don’t want to go back to work after maternity leave I want to work from home. The whole thing is horrible as you never know if you’re making the right decisions. You’re doing a great job!!!
Thanks lovely, I think I would miss the interaction if I worked at home – it’s the one bit that I really love! It’s hard making a decision but I hope you manage to find something that works for you! x
When I return to work I plan on it being part time but this is my fear. Thankfully it’s still quite far in the future. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
I can understand this. I’m trying to figure out what to do work wise. I’ve got just under 4 months of mat leave left and I’m excited and terrified about going back. #KCACOLS
It’s an odd time isn’t it? I wanted to go back but then I felt guilty for every decision that I made about doing so. I would say, don’t worry too much, enjoy the time you have left and make the most of it whatever you decide to do!! x
I’ve got another year yet till I need to face this problem and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Although the adult conversation will be nice! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
This is more or less my situation too.I don’t have a high level role but I share my role with 1 other person so I get a lot of phone calls/emails while I’m not there.Hubby is forever saying I should leave work at work but he doesn’t understand it’s not that easy. #kcacols
It’s never that easy! No matter how hard you try (I think it’s what makes us good at our jobs though!)
I work part time and people automatically think I actually do nothing on my days off from work. Some weeks I go to work for a break! It absolutely is a compromise no matter what hours you do or don’t work #kcacols
As bad as it is, I think I used to think the same thing – now I know it’s really the opposite… it’s almost a holiday to be in work!!