Mrs. Lighty from http://allthingsspliced.co.uk/ shares her thoughts a year on from maternity leave:
It seems like only yesterday, I was writing down my thoughts and feelings on my imminent return to work after maternity leave. I remember the emotions I had as I wrote that post so well: the heavy heart, the worry, the tears. But somewhere along the line, time has slipped by, and it’s actually a lot longer than just yesterday since that post was written. It has, in fact, been a whole a year since that point in time.
A year on since I handed my nine-month-old baby over to another woman to look after, while I went back into the workplace. As with most things associated with Baby Lighty, I can’t quite believe it’s been that long already. Time flies when you’re having fun, and yet this time last year, I certainly wasn’t having fun. At least, I wasn’t in the sense that my days and my nights were filled with worry about how I was going to work the logistics of going back to work, who was going to look after my child, and whether I could even pluck up the courage to leave Baby Lighty.
And yet, now, looking back, the time has flown, and I have had fun. Shortly after I wrote my post questioning whether I’d wasted my maternity leave, I was lucky enough to get a new job. A new job, which in contrast to the one I was due to go back to, is local to where we live, and is just two days a week. And I know that I’m so incredibly lucky because on top of this I also really enjoy it. So I have been having fun, and I’ve also been having the best of both worlds, or so it feels.
And whilst I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am, if I were to go back in time and tell the Mrs. Lighty of a year ago a thing or two, it would go a little something like this:
Dear past Mrs Lighty,
Your baby will be absolutely fine in the care of your lovely childminder. In fact, he’ll be more than fine; he’ll have so much fun, make lots of new friends and learn so many new things that you’ll be in awe of all that he achieves with her.
In fact, you’ll realise that he actually gets a lot out of being away from you for a bit and in the care of someone that has Early Years Foundation Stage training. He’ll get to do lots of new things and his speech will come on in leaps and bounds.
Getting a local job will mean that one of your biggest worries – the logistics of how you’ll get yourself and a baby ready in time to get out of the door and into work – will be greatly reduced. Even if you had gone back to your old job, you would have somehow found a routine that would work for you. It definitely takes some planning (packed lunches have to be made the night before, as well as bags packed and clothes lined out), but you can do it. However, you must remember to build in those ten minutes’ contingency time for the days when Baby Lighty decides that it’s a good idea to throw up just as you’re about to go out the door…the perils of a reflux baby!
Going back to work will give you some sanity. It’s lovely to be able to think about something other than playdates and nursery rhymes for two days a week. Oh and there’s also adult conversation and hot tea!
You’ll feel like you’re doing something for you, something which means that you’re contributing to your household income but which will also make you feel like you’re part of a team. A team which understands the perils of parenthood and shows you that employers can be flexible when it comes to working parents.
It’ll also mean that your brain gets more of an exercise than just trying to translate what a toddler wants all day! Of course, there are days when you feel like the biggest dunce in the world (even after a year you still can’t quite find your way around your Mac at work!) and you’ll wonder if your brain will ever return to it’s pre-baby brain, less-foggy state that it is today, but you’ll also learn lots more than you could have imagined by going into an entirely different industry.
You’ll know how incredibly lucky you are to work part time, but you’ll also know that no matter what, you’ll cherish the days off you have with Baby Lighty and will make the most of them.
That’s not to say that it’s not a juggle being a working mum. I don’t think it matters if you work from home, run your own business, freelance or go out to the office, there is always a juggle. You’ll always be worrying that you’ve forgotten to do something, and of course your little darling will always decide to have the most unsettled night ever on your working days, because that’s a parenting law of sod.There will still be days when all you really want to do is be a Mummy, like the days when you drop Baby Lighty off to the childminder with an inkling that he’s not quite as well as he should be, but with a great support system around you, you can make it work.
And more than just making it work, you might actually find that you really enjoy it. Besides, there is no better feeling than when you walk through the door at the end of the day, and a certain little someone comes running up to you shouting “Mummy!” and throws his little arms around you!
So embrace this next year and all that it will bring you.
Lots of love, future Mrs Lighty xxx
And that’s the thing, I have really enjoyed it. It’s amazing to look back now and see how far I’ve come. And I know that I write these points from the very lucky position that I’m in. I know that some mums have to go back to work full time to make ends meet, or are the main breadwinners of the family, or go back to a job that treats them unfairly or have to give up work for one reason or another. But I’m also a strong believer in life having a way of working itself out. The things we worry about today will hopefully have vanished in a year’s time. And I’m pleased to say that I’m in the fortunate position of having hindsight on my side now. The day that my good NCT friend Mrs Newmy shared the job advert on Facebook was the day that fate stepped in and lent me a helping hand. I feel like I’m so incredibly lucky to have had the best of both worlds this past year.
And the moral of this story? Well, if you’re a mummy on the verge of returning to work, please do not worry. In a year’s time, I bet you’ll also be looking back and realising that everything will be ok.