So I’m back to work. It’s been about 8 weeks now, although I’ve had a lovely 2 weeks off for Easter! Work actually feels more normal than I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong I still feel great anxieties about my capabilities in balancing motherhood and a stressful job. However, when I’ve been at work I’ve felt there (if you know what I mean). A bit distant on occasion but in the main Im ‘present’.
The first week was a bit of a disaster, in the fact that I had to phone in sick on my first day! Yep embarrassing as that is I had the dreaded flu virus that had been going around (despite having the flu jab) so I literally could not get out of bed. I had my first day all organised physically and mentally. I was emotionally prepared (as reflected in my last ‘working mum countdown’ post). I just couldn’t believe it. I ended up having that first week of sick so it wasn’t until the following week that I made it back to the office. Part of me just wanted to get back to get that first day over and done with and that first nursery drop off over and done with. I had been dreading it for so long.
When I did eventually make it back (!) everyone was so pleased to see me, which made me feel good. It’s lovely to feel like you were missed and needed. It felt like returning home a bit, as I sat at my desk like id never been away. The same old people passing my door and popping in for that ‘welcome back’ chat. I had over 3000 emails in my inbox, yes 3000! Amazing. Most of them will be deleted, I just had to believe that anything important had been dealt with over the last nearly 11 months. Yes I’d been off on maternity leave for nearly 11 months! And it didn’t feel like it now that I was back. It went in a blink of an eye and not much had changed at work. Time is such a strange but amazing thing.
I’m starting my return on a phased arrangement, working 3 days a week for the first 3 months. This feels doable (just) and gives me more days at home with the children than days in the office in a week. I have temporarily reduced my hours on a 4 day a week arrangement but I’m using up my accrued annual leave to shorten my weeks further for as long as possible. At the moment 4 full long days in the office plus 2 hours commuting a day feels unrealistic for me to cope with but I’ll have to see how it goes. But I’ve only got until the end of April to enjoy this as from May Im up to 4 days. Eek!
Two days a week I’m getting my baby girl up early and taking her with me as she goes to the nursery where I work. I work about a 45-50 minute drive away from home. My boy hears us moving around, so gets up early too. So I’m getting to see them both before I start work on those days. However, on the third day my mum has my baby girl so I don’t need to get her up before I go. It feels cruel waking them both up before 7am (if they are still sleeping) just so I can see them, so I leave before they wake. But when I don’t see them in the morning it feels like such a long time without being with them. Without hugging and kissing them. I then get home bang on dinner, bath, and bed time, which you fellow mummy’s will know is the busiest time of day. So it’s a bit manic when I get home and I have to make sure we stick to a structure at bedtime now we are all so busy and so the kids get to bed at a reasonable hour. It would be quite easy to crawl in to the bed with them and just cuddle all evening!
I definitely work to live. The first week I was back I was already planning my leave in for the year! Somehow this makes going back to work a little more bearable. I’ve been lucky enough to have a generous phased return to work arrangement, which I am thankful for, but non the less it still feels hard. I feel so guilty for leaving my children whilst I work and it’s really upsetting not to be able to do the simple things, like make them breakfast or do the school run. But I make the most of these simple things when I’m not at work and I keep reminding myself that I’m working for my children and their future. Of course, I’ve got all those holidays I’ve booked off work to look forward to, which I will love and cherish with the children.
One day, I may not give myself such a hard time and may not feel so guilty, I hope…. X