16 Mar Hard work never killed anybody..?
In the last five days I have nested like i have NEVER nested before. Like a pregnant hen on steroids, the house has been deep cleaned and feathered to an inch of it’s life. The cupboards are so overflowing with dried goods it’s as if i’m hunkering down for a ‘Wizard of Oz’ type tornado. I have bought birthday cards for people so far in advance I can not remember who they are for. I have spent a small fortune on children’s clothes not only for summer this year but winter 2018. My 1 year old Joseph is going through another bout of sleep training (see plan here). I have visited the dentist three times, doctor 4 times, and even brought some vitamins (a first for me) in anticipation of the inevitable Chicken Pox, Noro weirdo virus that will knock us sideways in week 2.
“So what has instigated this type A behaviour pattern?”
Today is my first day back at work after a year of maternity leave. This time last year I was a bloated, braxton hix ridden, pregnant lady huffing and puffing through some sort of nesting scenario ahead of Joseph’s birth. I blinked and now I am sat in my first meeting back in the office trying to remember how to log into my email account. Give me a few more days and on the surface I will be using phrases like ‘let’s circle back’. I will be discussing how to ‘maximise impact’ without a hint of sarcasm whilst fondling a latte (in a mug) marveling at how I went to the loo earlier un-interrupted. Behind the scenes my working day will be peppered with sporadic sobbing in said loo either from lack of sleep or guilt from leaving my babies (and most likely both). My home life will also be a controlled mess steered by the odd printed out meal plan and many many ‘to do’ lists.
I deal with stressful times in my life through preparing as much as I can and having minor melt downs. I don’t think there is much I can do to stop the guilt and sadness I currently feel at leaving the children, but there are a few things I have prepared to try and take the stress out of returning to work.
Here are my top 5 tips on preparing to go back to work. I have no idea if these will be successful so watch this space! Also please please share your experiences and ideas.
Urgh this makes me feel weepy even writing about it. I am relying on a team and i mean literally a TEAM of people to look after my babies while I fiddle about doing busy and important work things in the office. I have a complicated concoction of pre-school, nursery, childminders and grandparents. Whatever you decide to do – here a few pointers to hopefully prepare yourself and the little ones.
- Brace yourself and the family for an earlier start. My 3 year old was already at preschool part time but I ramped her up to full time a few weeks ago. It gave us a chance to introduce her to breakfast at the pre-school, the earlier wake up call, and also get ourselves better at getting both kids dressed and out the door on time. I am averaging about 45 mins late for work – eek!
- Maybe do a few dry runs of dropping off. If nothing else it helps you get used to any tears. My 1 year old is struggling a bit with settling into nursery so for my first week back my husband is going to take him. Just ease the guilt factor…
- Make sure everyone is fully up to speed with your routine. After a few settling in sessions for my baby I realised that the nursery were rocking him to sleep on a rocking chair. This is a nightmare as little Joe is terrible at self settling but getting better every night. I have now made sure that everyone knows his routine and there will be some teething problems but at least we’re all staying consistent.
- Photos – print off some pictures of yourself and your family to help aid the settling in process for your little ones.
- Finally – agree a good way to keep in touch with whoever is looking after your babies. At the end of the day I am handed a written handover sheet from my nursery. I have a whatsapp group with grandparents and my childminder for photos and updates. Also do NOT feel that you can not call them anytime of the day to check in.
Shallow I know but if you are anything like me – your body has undergone a huge amount of change in the last 18 months. I have slimmed back down but I have a new pot belly and boobs that resemble pecks. Nothing aids a return to work like new clothes. Get shopping!
Prepare time for yourself & shake off the guilt
Be good to yourself! A phrase that makes me think of a healthy yogurt but you know what I mean. This is something I am going to actively focus on in the next few weeks. I am going to get selfish and not feel guilty about it. At the moment I can barely leave the house fully clothed let alone primed for a full time job – but I love a challenge – and if i’m late to work I’m not going to fall into a guilt ridden tail spin. I also know that I will be majorly unhinged emotionally (nursery drop off is my Achilles heel) soooo I’m going to try and find a smidgen of time to look after myself a bit. The mid week dinner dates have been put on hold, our weekends are bereft of commitments, I have paid upfront for my favourite monday night ballroom dancing class, my partner is prepared for lots of tears, my favourite Sauvignon is cooled and I plan to get lots of early nights.
Overwhelmingly – I feel anxious, guilty, sort of excited, and as prepared as I can be. The one thing I am going to try and do is take each day as it comes and give myself a break. I will not add extra guilt to my already inflated paranoia if I leave my digital nanny on for a little longer in the morning (Fireman Sam is the current favourite). I will be proffering chocolate brioche in a heartbeat to my tantruming toddler to persuade her into my car for drop off. We will muddle through and conquer on hopefully 8 hours sleep!
Schedule weekend playdates & wine
Despite my previous point – I do not want to be a hermit for too long. Book some fun things to look forward to. Wine with good people always works for me. I’ve also booked a Saturday morning rugby class for my little ones. It makes sure I have a scheduled kiddie activity and I also get to keep in touch with the fabulous parents I have been forcing myself upon during my year on mat leave.
Take ownership of your career
Finally – this is the most important one for me – take ownership of your career. Life is about to get even more about compromise and my job has to be worth it. I am very lucky that I have a fantastic role at Facebook but it is demanding, at times highly pressured and can be uncompromising. I know that a lot has changed. I plan to ask LOADS of questions, and keep that dip in confidence at bay. When I am up to speed I also hope to make the job work for me and explore a better work life balance.
Legally – you have the right to ask for flexible working to improve your work-life balance.
- Part-time working
- Staggered hours
- Home working
- Job sharing
To request flexible working, you need to have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks (including maternity leave).
But remember that you only have the right to ask for flexible working – not the right to have it.
If your employer agrees, keep in mind that it typically takes around 14 weeks from your request for flexible working to implementing the new arrangement.
If it is not working for you then change it! Read Bonnie’s post here as she has tons of experience in this area. Ultimately choose a job you love and then you will never have to work again in your life!