Firstly apologies its been a while since I've blogged. The biggest reason is that I've returned to work. I'm six weeks in now, practically an expert – so that obviously gives me the right to blog about it... So, for those of you that haven’t been in the situation yet, let me tell you what its been like for me.
I found the job through an ex colleague and friend, covering her maternity leave at a company just local enough and double handy for childcare arrangements.
I negotiated 3 days a week and set about finding a childminder for 2 of the days – my outlaws had offered to have her on the third day.
I went to my local council and got a list of local childminders with vacancies and picked out a name I liked, with a outstanding Ofsted rating etc. I phoned her. She sounded lovely, but she couldn’t take on an under two year old. She recommended someone else. I phoned that person (next on my list as it happened), set up a meeting and immediately knew she was perfect. Her house is the right mix of messy and lovely. It's clean but comfortable with a large garden, playroom and massive kitchen/diner with obligatory homely wooden table and welsh dressers dotted about. She is about ten years my senior – another draw for me, say what you like, but in your thirties you still have a selfishness about you that you just don't seem to have in your forties. She has two lovely teenage daughters and has been a foster carer for many years. They have a couple of cute lap cats and a dog that I simply wanted to put into my bag and steal. I'm not a dog person, but this dog is a real sweetheart, small, quiet and soppy as you like with kids. Perfect. My daughter is very happy there – hell I'd like to spend 2 days a week there, painting, cooking, digging, playing... and the dinners she gets! God, I read the diary the childminder does at the end of each day and think – wow, that dinner/lunch sounds lovely...
So, the usual angst of leaving them with someone else, crying, etc... is just not there when I have my work days. Clearly the day with her grandparents is a god send, they love having her and she loves being there.
My daughter seems to have thrived since I went back to work. I knew in the final months at home, I was failing her, providing mostly a boring day for her filled with housework, telly and play with the same old toys. The childminder is focussed on her finding fun activities and developing her skills, plus the interaction with the other kids of varying ages has bought her speech, motor skills and confidence on in absolute leaps. Aside from that following the days with the childminder and her grandparents she is sooo ready for bed after a full day.
The job I'm doing is mundane in parts and complex in others – enough to keep me interested but not stressful or over wrought. My boss is a good humoured Septic (American) and my colleagues are a mixture of foreigners and locals – friendly but not overly so. There are some differences to working as a full time non mum to working as a part time mum. Your priorities are different and your colleague's level of commitment to including you and getting to know you is somewhat lesser. I'm okay with that, I have lots of friends outside work and a supportive partner and family. I won't lie, I have found being the new girl hard though and lonely at times. Being at home for 18 months doesn’t boost your confidence in social situations, but its getting easier to talk about something other than my baby. On the upside I have a couple of people to sit with in the lunch room and I've started to get to know those that sit around me a little better – day by day.
The rest of it – fitting in the house work etc. – my two delicious days off during the week and what to do with them– well that is all coming together okay, its early days.
My verdict and tips on returning to work:
If you want to do it, then you should give it a try. If you enjoy being at home, embrace it, we are all different and it's not one size fits all even when you have a baby.
Good child care cover is key – if they are happy and safe, you are happy. Childminders are cheaper than nurseries and in my opinion provide flexibility and a chance for you to build a relationship with your child's carer.
The drive to and from work, with the stereo up and the windows down, is the best part of the day – oh and having a whole hour to yourself at lunchtime - read about Mr Grey - don't mind if I do!!!
Don't get a highly stressed job – its going to make it very hard – save that for later in your career or forget it – your priorities have changed.
Get your partner/support network on board – that is pretty important because you need them to be nice to you, help you round the house, pour you a glass of wine after a hard day and give you a lie in at the weekend...
Plan, plan, plan.. getting your routine sorted will help you stay stress free in the morning and when you get home.
Don't feel guilty, worrying about work/the child. Live in the moment you are in.
If you can, try and go back part time, it really is the best of both worlds.