I always knew that my maternity leave would come to an end, but when I received an email from my boss with the subject ‘return to work meeting’ I was utterly gobsmacked! Have I really spent a WHOLE year off work? The answer it would seem, is yes – and so begins my transition from full-time Mum to full-time working Mum; and to be honest I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.
I tend to get the same, clichéd responses from people when I mention returning to work, that tend to revolve around the idea that it will be ‘nice for me to have adult conversations again’ or that it will be good to do something ‘just for me’, or that it will be ‘a nice break from being at home’. I’m pretty sure that none of these people have ever worked full-time with a baby. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes (usually after a long day with a baby that hasn’t napped) I do think that being at work would be easier than being a stay- home mum, but this is short-lived. The reality, I feel, is going to be quite different! I like to think I’m organised, but some days I struggle to get my son and I dressed, fed and ready to leave the house by 9am, so how I will manage all this an hour earlier is utterly beyond me! I also haven’t been away from my job long enough to describe it as ‘a break’, I can still vividly remember leaving late, missing lunch breaks and running around like a headless chicken trying to meet deadlines. The truth is though, that I love my job, I always have. I have wonderful work colleagues and I want to return to work, I just have some concerns.
Aside from the fact that I still can’t do up any of the skirts and dresses I used to wear to work, the most obvious concern I have is leaving Will at nursery. I thought choosing a nursery would be really difficult. I planned to visit lots, I read up on what questions I should ask and what I should look for. In the end though, it was and easy decision. I visited a Montessori nursery and instantly felt it was the right place for Will. As with all parenting, sometimes its best to just go with your gut. So at least I’m content that he’s going to be looked after somewhere excellent. But I still haven’t really got to grips with the idea of leaving him every day; I haven’t left him for longer than a few hours yet, so that’s going to be a struggle for him and for me.
I’m sure I’m not the only Mum who is concerned that they may have de-skilled after a year at home looking after their children. My profession (I’m a hospital pharmacist) changes rapidly and keeping abreast of the changes takes work; work that for the last year I haven’t done – at all! What I have done however, is gained a whole range of new, transferable, and infinitely more useful skills. I never appreciated just how much us Mums multitask: I can now do a huge number of things at once, one-handed, whilst wrestling a baby. I don’t expect my drinks to be hot or my meals to be on time, and I can (just about) function on next to no sleep! Us Mums are able to prioritise everything but ourselves on a daily basis; parenting truly makes you selfless and this is a wonderful attribute. So de-skilled? Absolutely not!
If Motherhood has taught me anything in the last year though, its that I am so much stronger, and so much more capable than I thought I was. Looking after a baby can be a real challenge, and I think we all have days when we feel we can’t cope, but somehow we muddle along and get through it, one day at a time. Going back to work inevitably going to be a challenge; but it can’t be harder than the first couple of days with a newborn! So for now I’m going to be optimistic about my return, enjoy my last week of maternity leave and buy a new work wardrobe!
If anyone has any tips to make the transition easier I’d love to hear them!