So I was under no illusion that I would be able to take a full year off work and be a lady of leisure, as I am so crap at saving money for a rainy day. Yet it really feels like I have just packed up my desk, said my goodbyes, blinked, and just like that…I’m back.
Don’t get me wrong I have crammed in as much as physically possible into my maternity leave.
Days of slobbing around in my pyjamas watching trashy daytime tv have been very very few and far between. I am one of those annoying people where I say “we must meet up soon for a catch up”, actually mean it, and hold you to it!
I’ve seen so many people and had lots of leisurely days out drinking copious amounts of coffee. I have caught up on so many years of missed opportunities where working full time doesn’t allow it. It has made me realise that you cannot possibly work 40 hours a week, and maintain the amount of friendships that I would like to in the way I would like. I have had so many laughs and had so much fun. Struck up real friendships with people I have only associated with before, just because I had this amazing gift of time to spend getting to know them.
This makes the thought of going back to work a heartbreaking one. I’m not going to lie and pretend I hate my job because I don’t. I know I am lucky to have the job I do and I work alongside some amazing people. I come home every night and feel like I have done a decent day’s graft. We all go through phases where we don’t enjoy our jobs but I do like where I work. It’s more the thought of leaving Jack.
My incredible littlest boy who amazes me every day and makes me laugh so so much. We have had that much time together that he is my right arm. Being separated feels so strange that I can’t remember how to get through my day without him cuddling me, or even being sick on me! How can he possibly have a day where I am not there with him? He’s my baby and he needs his mummy surely!
The reality is that he can cope fine without me, and actually loves being with other people. It’s more me, and I need to accept it! I will have had 7 months on leave by the time I go back properly so I can’t moan about that. Going back to my job is about us working to have a good family life. I decided to have a baby and I want to be able to spoil my little family and have brilliant times doing amazing things.
In preparation for this, I have had the nightmare of planning child care. I do have an amazing support network and mine/Paul’s family are incredible. But when it comes down to it I don’t want to make looking after Jack, someone’s job. I get worried that having him on a regular basis takes away the pleasure of being able to visit him. You have him because you have to, not because you want to. I know that both families don’t feel this way (yet anyway!) but it is something that plays on my mind.
He is a good baby, not really a crier. But then again he isn’t really a napper during the day either, so does require quite a lot of attention! He will play on his jumperoo or even try to roll around on a blanket, but has a sixth sense for when you leave the room and doesn’t like it! I don’t want anyone to start to get fed up of having him so feel awful asking for help while I go back to work. I think you get that overwhelming feeling that you are being selfish, but as paul keeps reminding me, I’m doing this for our family. We both are.
I’m not sure if every company does this but my place of work offers ‘keep in touch’ days (KIT) to use after a certain time of your maternity leave. I do think that these are a great idea as not only does it let you earn a bit of extra pocket money, but it does what it says on the tin – let’s you keep in touch!
Sounds daft when I do have contact with most of my friends and colleagues through social media and visits. But you do feel ever so ‘out of touch’ with your work place when you spend so much time away from it. As much as you try to get the latest gossip or ask about if anything has changed, you still feel quite removed from it all (this may be a good thing to most people!). KIT days allow you to go into work of your own accord and dip your toe in.
I have so far done 2 KIT days.
The night before my first one, I thought I was going to have a meltdown. It was like the night before an exam or driving test, I felt so nervous! A million things running through my head about Jack being left and then about actually being at work. What if I forget to leave enough for Jack for the day? What if he needs me? Will I know what I’m doing at work? What if no one wants me there?!
I woke up that morning feeling like I was going to my first day at school! Couldn’t remember what to wear that wasn’t maternity range, and didn’t have any appropriate shoes! Where was my pass? No change for parking! Nightmare!!
As it was school holidays, Thomas was spending the week with his dad in Kent so at least I didn’t have to drag him out of bed. But instead I had to get ready in some sort of stealth mode as to avoid waking up Jack. No lights on and no sound! Once Jack is awake he will want my undivided attention, and doesn’t allow me to spend time on makeup or hair (hence why my hair has been a pinned up nest pretty much every day of my mat leave).
I actually managed to get sorted out, eat breakfast and get my bag packed all before baby woke up, great result. Pre-made a bottle to take with me so all I had to do was get him changed and bundle him into the car. I felt a lump in my throat dropping him off with Paul’s mum and dad. He went straight to them for a cuddle and his bottle and didn’t look back, so I sloped off. Part of me felt glad he isn’t a clingy baby, but the other part wanted him to miss me just a little!!
The drive to work felt familiar but quiet as the schools were off. I arrived in plenty of time to find a parking space and clocked my manager stood outside the building. At least I didn’t have to walk in on my own! We went for a catch up coffee and then made my way into the office.
Literally as soon as I walked in, everything felt completely normal! I was so surprised how quickly it was like putting on an old comfy pair of slippers. An added bonus was seeing loads of friendly faces who just wanted to catch up with me. It was nowhere near as bad as I had built it up to be in my head. The day actually flew by! I’d even be controversial and say that I quite enjoyed it!
I received loads of pictures during the day of Jack so I could see that he was completely fine and probably having a much better time than he would have with me! I got home and cuddled him so much I thought I might squish him. Then felt so relieved that I had that first day out of the way.
I booked to do another KIT day the week after and my mum and dad came to our house to watch Jack. Again it went really well and I actually got some work done this time so I felt more useful!
September I will be doing 2 days a week ready for officially starting back at work in October. I have accrued some holidays so will be popping a few in to start with until we have the childcare sorted out properly.
I would say that if anyone is feeling the return to work nerves, just to do it. Like ripping off a plaster it will be much more painless to do it quickly and get it out of the way. I do feel so much better about going back now and although I would give my right arm to have more time off (and will carry on playing the lotto!) I am also looking forward to it being normal. We will all be in a routine soon enjoying quality time together when it counts.
The kids know I love them just as much as a stay at home mum would, but I just have less time to show them. Hopefully they will grow up knowing that this is for them.
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