Working Mum

It’s hard to believe time is ticking down to the end of my maternity leave. At the end of November I’ll be back to work full time, and until then I’m working 1-2 days a week as ‘keep in touch’ days.

And so we’ve had to address the issue that all working parents face – who is going to care for our beloved little ones whilst we’re at work?

Whilst we’ve used nurseries in the past we’re lucky enough to have an awesome childminder for G, and I knew all along I wanted C to go to her when I went back to work. So over the past few weeks we’ve reached another milestone in C’s development – her first days with the childminder!

The picture shows the result of one of her first settling in sessions – her very first artwork and a baby fast asleep when I went to collect her, so despite her tears and protestations at me leaving she can’t have had too bad a time!

And of course there were tears, but to be fair at the moment we get ‘are you leaving me forever?’ tears if I go to the toilet or just close the car door so I can walk round to the drivers side.

There’s a big part of me that’s looking forward to going back to work, and my keep in touch days so far have reassured me that I do still have a brain, albeit one which hasn’t stretched its legs for a while. But at the same time I’m nervous of many aspects of it, not least the practicality of being a full time working mum and physically fitting everything into the week, particularly as C currently isn’t sleeping through at night.

I guess I also had the idea that by having a year off on maternity leave, I would have seen lots of the ‘first’ milestones before going back to work. Yet C is still not crawling, let alone walking (lazybones!), has no discernible words, hasn’t yet learnt to clap or point, and decided to use two of her settling in sessions to learn to wave and stand up (aided of course).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the slightest bit concerned about her development, I guess she just still feels like a little baby to me. I’ll miss seeing those little developments when I’m working full time, when five days out of the week disappear in a blur of getting everyone up, dressed, out; and home, bathed and to bed.

But needs must, and I’m secure in my decision to go back to work full time being the best decision for our family. And I know both G and C will thrive and be happy with their childminder, as well as being glad they can play together before and after school.

And the one thing that will definitely be happy about me going back to work will be our bank balance, that’s for sure.

I’d love to hear how others have managed the return to work, especially any hints and tips on how to make the transition easier and to keep the week running smoothly!

Play dates

I had so many plans before I started maternity leave. So many things I was going to do, so many jobs I was going to get sorted even before baby arrived – my to do list was spread across 5 separate to do lists, split by theme and pinned to the fridge door.

And with baby here my social life was going to be booming! I still have a memo saved with a list of all the local baby groups organised by time and day, which I spent probably hours researching and now simply gaze at wistfully whilst I’m pinned to the sofa feeding C.

Because perhaps predictably, I’m not doing very well.

In terms of the to do list, we still haven’t even started the biggest job, decorating our spare room, which is currently adorned with a multitude of abandoned paint test squares on the wall. As our prime dumping ground in the house it probably makes the world’s least child proof place to change a nappy, and is therefore the place we obviously choose to do this. We’ve been here 6 months now, so at this rate we’ll be forced into painting when we move out, just to cover up the patchwork tester wall and get our deposit back.

And so far I’ve made it to the grand total of two playgroups and one breastfeeding support group. Which wasn’t really much of a ‘group’ as I was the only person there and had to spend an hour making small talk with the health visitor given I’d handily planned to get there for when C needed feeding.

The truth is, just getting everyone up, dressed, fed and either entertained or out is a challenge! And having been used to working in a fairly high pressure environment, with meetings, conference calls and to do lists coming out of my ears, that’s kind of hard to adjust to. I frequently find myself wondering quite how I managed to fit a full day’s work in between family and home.

A week or so ago someone posted a link to this blog post, which was a bit of an epiphany for me, if by ‘epiphany’ you can mean the dawning realisation that all the things I’d thought I was going to do were probably never going to happen.

Blimey, that sounds a bit depressing, doesn’t it?

So we’ve had a bit of a change of tack this week and both C and I seem to be benefitting from it. Rather than running around checking Sure Start timetables and worrying about whether anyone else was going to rock up, we’ve been on two of what I guess you could describe as baby’s first play dates.

We ‘did lunch’ with a group of people I ‘met’ online whilst pregnant and who’ve proved to be a fantastic support network already. And as a bonus got to bring home the biggest slice of chocolate cake I’ve ever seen (yes, I finished it all, and felt suitably sick afterwards).

And we went for tea and cake at the home of a friend I met through our NCT antenatal class, enjoying a sunny afternoon stroll through the golf course to get there.

Yeah, the cake thing does seem like a bit of a theme, doesn’t it?

And this week C has started to reward us with her first ‘social’ smiles. They’re a bit elusive (and apparently impossible to catch on camera), and it takes a bit of warming up – testing out the muscles either side before she launches into a full fledged smile. But they’re definitely there.

And as lame as it sounds, when she does manage a smile, it doesn’t matter whether or not we’ve made it out of our PJs, much less the house.

I’m not going to use the cliche that it ‘makes it all worthwhile’, but it certainly makes it all seem ok.