Returning to work after becoming a parent is tough.
Whether you’ve been held captive by your spawn one day too many and you just need to get back to the 9-5 where you can drink hot tea and have as many uninterrupted adult conversations as you can handle. Or if you are dreading leaving your new stay at home Mummy life behind you, not to mention leaving your precious bundle of joy with a complete stranger or even worse …. The mother-in-law, going back to work is tough. There are so many balls to juggles (I live in a house dominated by the male of the species, I apologise but balls seemed like a good analogy); The hours you work, actually doing the hours you are supposed to work, The child care arrangements; the preparation for getting the child to the place of childcare, dealing with husband / partner during this period, commuting, Car parking, delayed trains, fear of finding your child on the doorstep of place of childcare due to delayed train. The list is endless and not to mention the emotional juggling balls attached with leaving your child; returning to work with zero confidence, fear of not actually being able to use your brain any more, do you even still have a brain? Can you use a pen? Do you have a pen? Sh*t I have no pens. Quick kids get in the car, emergency visit to Sainsbury’s for pens.
So after 1 long miserable month at work after 9 months of maternity leave, I decided, sorry we decided, that baby number 2 was certain to make life easier. Hah! That’s a huge lie; baby number 2 arrived in my uterus completely unannounced 10 months after having Louis! I have absolutely no idea how he got there, quite possibly it was the second immaculate conception!
Anyway, I had been back at work for 1 month, this strange thing called money had started to trickle back into our lives again and then BOOM there it was, round 2, and I couldn’t bloody wait, well once I’d stopped crying 3 months later I couldn’t bloody wait!
We really couldn’t wait and were so over the moon when little Daniel arrived in February of last year. I’d like to say he completed our world, but who am I kidding, there is definitely room in our world for more, no bedrooms but hey that’s what bunk beds are for right? But for now our sleepless nights and long long days were everything I wanted them to be.
Having baby number 1 is a bit of a whirlwind ride which can feel vague and translucent when you look back on it, almost like it didn’t really happen or you weren’t actually there, of course this could be because I watched most of Louis’ first year of life through my iPhone camera, but with baby number 2 confidence, familiarity and a lesser sense of the unknown is there to help you out and enable you to relax and actually enjoy being a parent. It allows you to chuck baby bottles in the dishwasher rather than sterilising the crap out of your Tommie Tippees every single time, it allows you to know that a screaming baby needs milk, sleep or a bum change and not gripe water or an impromptu visit to A&E. It allows you to put the baby in bed with you at 4am so you all get some sleep rather than mercifully rocking a howling infant in their crib with one leg whilst you try to stay warm and sleepy under the covers, (naturally, dear husband sleeps soundly next to you regardless of whether said infant sleeps or howls), and it allows you stick a figurative 2 fingers up at the health visitor when you imagine her response to your ad-hoc co-sleeping arrangements!
It also means you savour every last cuddle, every long deep and beautiful gaze into their eyes because you now know that your baby won’t be a baby for long. You now know that that bloody annoying cliché that was hammered into you for the last 9 months of your life is actually so so true. They grow too fast. All you can do is enjoy the moment and treasure it forever.
Fast forward 12 months on and here we are. Daniel will be 1 next week and here I am back in full time employment.
Finding the perfect balance of working to earn money and paying someone to look after the boys has been no mean feat. I started trying to piece the puzzle together back in September and basically we’re in a ‘suck it and see’ scenario at the moment. Fortunately I accrued so much leave over the last year that I’m only working 3 days a week at the moment on a full time wage but once the leave runs out fulltime childcare for 2 boys under 3 is going to be a struggle, but my favourite line at the moment plays out here; we will cross that bridge when we come to it! The 15 free hours will certainly help but don’t be under any illusion that you’re just given 15 hours of blissfully free childcare once they turn 3. It’s a convoluted business but once you’ve sussed it you can reward yourself to a few more hours in the office without feeling like you are working to support your childminders family rather than your own!
I’m in week 2 of being a working mum of 2 now and it’s not so bad. I miss the boys terribly but the overwhelming love they show me when I get home keeps me going through the day. That and the knowledge that I have no choice, we have bills to pay, mouths to feed, birthday presents to buy and an endless list of unforeseen costs to cover. So the guilt that was there when I left baby number 1 to return to work is still there for baby number 2 but its rationalised and its accepted, because that’s just the way it is for us, for now anyway.
Written by Sarah – Mummy to Louis and Daniel