Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Don't Beat Yourself Up Guide To Working

Ah the joy of maternity leave where you can swan around on playdates and dip your feet in stinky ball pools whilst wiping baby sick off your top and not give a sh*t about the kind of state you look. But then after a few months it hits you. You can see a light at the end of the tunnel. And not in a good way. This light is flashing, it's bright and it's saying? 'TIME TO GO BACK TO WORK WOMAN'.

And then the quiet tick, tick, ticking begins. Every moment becomes bittersweet and you get weepy and think "Oh this could be the last time I watch Peppa with my baby" (I promise you it won't be) or your mind may be full of "so staying at home is my job now but does anyone actually think that is a real job?". The 'work' (DOOM) time must come whether it be going back to nine to five in an office, 24 hour child care of your little ones or like me, part time in teaching a school.

Work always looks better with a biscuit. FACT.

And whatever we do? It comes with guilt. And a shed load of it. I have done all three types of 'Mother'. The Full Time Working Mother, The Stay At Home Mother and The Part Time Working Part Time Stay At Home Mother (not quite so catchy). And I found that each came with it's own set of good and bad things. I have beaten myself up about various issues. And I will be honest during each situation sometimes my mind has been whirring in the middle of the night with the "what ifs?" and the "Oh f*ck I have made a mistake". I've wasted a lot of precious sleeping time worrying. Silly cow.


Full Time Working Me
I found going back to work full time incredibly hard after my daughter. And the sheer organisation of getting her to and from grandparents and nurseries did my head in. I used to drop her off and I often would drive to work weeping. I remember one day they gave me a calendar with little hand prints on and a sweet poem and I burst out crying whilst they looked on. They were used to it. "It happens a lot" evidently. But I had to work full time. I wasn't allowed to go part time. That is what I had to do for my family. It was that or have no job. Some of you may work full time because you need the money, you may be a single Mother, you may be the main bread winner. That's OK. You are doing what you need to do. And feeling sad? Is part of the process.

And after a while? It does stop. The pain gets a little less. You learn of ways to cope. You fill your little pockets of concentrated time with your children doing activities that you know they will enjoy. And I found when I worked full time those moments were amazing. Yes I was knackered but the sheer relief of seeing their little face at the end of the day was overwhelming. I used to run to my car. Run! Our weekends were precious and fun filled and glorious.

SAHM Me
On the flip side after having my second I also found being a SAHM incredibly difficult. I thought that it would be a breeze looking after two small ones full time. But I was with them alone everyday from 7am to 6pm and it was exhausting. Those little pockets of concentrated love became a wide expanse of tantrums, exhaustion and crying (me included). I was lonely and sometimes? I was really, really f*cking bored.

Laughing at how awful she knows these cakes will be!

Of course there were amazing memories of us being together like a little crew but there were times when I craved the conversation of another adult human. I would find myself chatting away with shop assistants. They clearly thought I was mad. I think women who are SAHM are utter heroes. Those who have a whole clan and cook, clean and teach them. Who just take to it like a duck to water? I take my hat off to you. My guilt this time came in the fact. That just wasn't me.

Part Time Me
I now am lucky enough to work two days a week in a local secondary school which seems to be the right fit for me. Giving up my Head of Department role was hard and I still wonder if I made the right decision now? I LOVE teaching. I love the pupils. I love my topic and I love the staff. The day I made the decision to go part time I wept. Properly wept (as you may have guessed, I am a weeper). In front of the Headmistress. I felt guilty for me. For stopping my career. I loved my job but with a husband who wasn't around for childcare drop off and pick ups I had to think of my children. I had to put my career on hold for them. I had to do what was right for my family.

And so do you. You do what is right for your lovely little family. You've every right to feel guilty as you walk away and can hear your little one sobbing (9/10 they will be fine five minutes later promise). It's OK to be dissapointed in yourself for not wanting to be the perfect Pinterest stay at home Mum (who in reality I doubt exists). And when you roll your eyes as you can't face watching Frozen ONE MORE TIME and you feel bad? That's OK. You may even be someone who loves going to work and feels no guilt whatsoever. Good for you.

My beautiful crew. We are like the gang. Totes hard and everything.

Whatever you do, do it because it's what you have to do. It might not be perfect, it might hurt your heart. It might keep you up at night but as long as you're doing what's right for your family try not to be too hard on yourself. OK? Take it from someone who knows. It's a ruddy waste of time and precious, precious sleep.

For information on your maternity rights read here. For information on your working rights read here. Make sure you are super informed before you make decisions about your return to work.

40 comments:

  1. Nice one Bab - completely agree that it's different for everyone and there are certainly pros and cons to everything. I think the world has changed since our mother's had babies, but flexibility of work/childcare etc hasn't caught up and there are lots of options but ultimately, WE have the babies. Tis tough. X

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    1. Tis tough babble we just have to do the best we can and make it work for us eh? Oh the sobs x

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  2. Even after three years of being back to work I regularly feel mothers guilt and will ply z with toys. Probably not a good habit especially when he asked for about her new one the very next day! :)

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    1. Oh god even though I only work two days on those two days I come as if I have not seen them for months! Nothing wrong with a bit of spoiling eh? x

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  3. This is fast becoming my favourite blogging series Em. Working decisions are hard. Finding balance is hard. It's all hard! Thank goodness they're cute :-) x

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    1. Oh god could you imagine if they were ugly? It would make everything so much harder! x

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  4. Oh there is def pros and cons - no one has it all. We just do our best without sending ourselves insane. Great post Em and brilliant series (I especially likes that labour one ;) ) xx

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    1. Yeah the labour one was good - the girl that wrote that was well fit ;) x

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  5. I love this post! I've not long gone back to work and this all rings really true with me! X

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    1. Ah thanks! I am glad that you enjoyed it x

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  6. Great post, I think you're spot on. I think you have to focus on what's right for you and your family, and not get caught up in other people's opinions. And then you can sleep at night. Or not, as you have children that keep you up...! xx

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    1. Yeah you have to focus on you and forget all the loons! And alas yes sometimes my children still keep me up. BOOOO x

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  7. I have also worked full-time as a teacher in a secondary school - had three children at the time - but after number 4, it wasn't working and I was exhausted so I dropped to 4 days and am now teaching 3 days. Totally agree that what suits one family, won't suit another and also that not all parents can choose to work the days/hours that they would ideally like to. Two days a week would be perfect for me but the job won't let me. Love this post and will share x

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    1. Ah thanks for sharing! It is so hard when you want to do something but it is just not allowed. I found it super upsetting x

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  8. You are so right!! Each and every mother feels guilt no matter what her 'work' is and we all need to go easier on ourselves and each other! Great post and also great series! Me LOVES it!

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    1. Yay! Glad you love it bab! That makes me super happy! x

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  9. You always put things in such a lovely way! I am drafting a post at the moment as I've just got myself a little part time weekend job, partly because I need to financially but partly because I might go crazy if I don't. I've only been a SAHM since October... that's a bit crap really but I've learnt that I just need that bit of independance for my sake and for theirs. I'm glad you found the right mix for you and your family, great post xx

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    1. No I just could not do SAHM and I think that people who do are seriously amazing as it is super hard. I have found the right mix for the moment and congrats on your job! That's amazing! x

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  10. I have definitely done the right thing for our little family after a lot of soul searching. I went back to work part time after having my eldest daughter, but due to the fact I worked in the travel industry and a large proportion of my job was spent travelling, I had a desk admin role and I hated it. So I worked super hard on my blog and built up my own social media clients (Online marketing is my background) and now I work for myself. It's not always easy and I do miss my old career sometimes, and on days like today where LL is ill and it's just automatically left to me to not work and look after her, it makes me want to scream, I wouldn't have it any other way! Lovely post Em! x

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    1. Same here. I wouldn't want it any other way either. I really admire women that know they want to work a certain way and then try everything in their power to do so. So starting businesses or working for yourself. I think this is a super admirable and amazing thing to do! I have stalked your about you page and was very impressed! x

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  11. Great post, and it's interesting to read an account of someone who has done all three and gives an honest opinion. I returned to work part time after my maternity leave ended when Boo was 11 months, I was dreading it and I hated it, and I actually handed my notice in last week (after 3 months back at work) so that I can become a SAHM to Boo and I am going to see where that takes me, I am going to look for another job but I am in no rush as I want to find something that will fit our family and not something we have to fit around.

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    1. Good for you! I think a lot of us try it a few different ways before we find the way that works for us. That seems the natural thing to do. Good luck being a lovely SAHM! x

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  12. Here, here! Great post and I love that you have included all mums, whether they stay at home, work or do both. x

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    1. Thanks lovely lady. I am glad you enjoyed it! x

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  13. This post actually makes me feel better about not being able to be a full time SAHM although the thought of maternity leave ending actually terrifies me!

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    1. Ah don't be scared! It will be fab. Sometimes I actually really enjoy work! x

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  14. My maternity days are almost over and the childcare guilt is already setting in. I know I should just get on and enjoy the last weeks but it's hard when you know what's ahead!

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    1. Oh god it's so hard when you can see at the end of the tunnel there is work. IT IS DOOM! x

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  15. I love this post and I completely resonate with what you said about SAHMs...it's not an easy job for sure! Although I've started looking into part time work and the idea of being away from S also hurts my heart x

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    1. Ah don't let it hurt your heart lovely. Well OK. Just a little tiny bit x

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  16. I totally get where you're coming from. Everyone has to do what's right for them and their family, but whatever decision you take it will never be perfect.
    I went back full-time after my eldest because we needed it financially, but also because I wanted to. After my younger son, I went part-time. I still needed to work financially and I still wanted to work - I wanted the adult company, I wanted the self-respect that comes from having a job and I wanted to use my brain. Having had kids relatively early, I'd never got into a management position, so I didn't have to take a step back, but I did prevent myself from ever getting promoted and I did lose a lot of respect from others, not my immediate team, but other people elsewhere, which I HATED. Logistically, it was also flipping hard work getting everyone in the right place at the right time before and after work.
    I've never been a stay at home mum, but for the past few months I've been a work at home mum and that suits me and the kids brilliantly. I'm there for them, I'm earning money and I'm happy. Result!

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    1. Yay! I am so glad you are happy and I think that you are very disciplined in the way that you manage to work from home. I would love to do a day of writing a week. That's what I am working towards this year x

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  17. Oh, it's so hard, isn't it? Whatever you do you feel guilty - working too much, not enough etc. I am currently just back at work after baby number three. I am self-employed and work from home. I do a lot of work around my children, so evenings, weekends and when the big two are at school and baby is sleeping. It's a constant juggling act and I'm still finding my way. Thanks for making me feel more normal about being a weeper and a worrier!! x #mmwbh

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    1. Oh It is so normal to be a weeper! I have to mark when they are asleep or when the husband is in charge which essentially means when they are running around me like loons x

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  18. Oh Chicken, I totally understood that feeling of doom when work was looming at the end of maternity leave. I sobbed my heart out. Eva was only 4 months when I went back and my hormones were still cray-cray. For me, with 3, it was just too expensive for childcare after Annie came along. I was unhappy in work and making next to no money after childcare anyway, so I left. I think, had i loved my job, it would have been a very different story! I applaud the working mummies and the SAHM's and the half and halfs - we are all just doing our best to get it right for our families, aren't we?
    Brill post, as ever xx

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    1. After four months? Gosh bab you did well! I used to cry so so much. We are all trying to make it work the best we can and alas sometimes that does involve the odd weep and feeling sad x

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  19. Great post Em! I am SO much happier now I work part time- I almost can't believe that I did 3 1/2 years of being a SAHM. I'm so grateful to have been around so much for them, but at the same time I'm a much better mum when I've had a breather (yes, work is a breather!) and more enthusiastic about everything to do with them. And that bit when you wrote about talking non-stop to shop assistants? That was me, and to a certain extent still IS me, as I work from home so prattle on like a look to anyone I come into contact with! If I ever have another baby, I will still work part time from a very early stage, and I don't think I wouldn't ever be a full time SAHM again - hats off to those who do! x

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    1. That's what I think bab! I find that sometimes when I am work it really is a little rest. I get to drink warm tea. I get to have a chat and have a biscuit and do something a little bit stimulating. I love it. SAHM rock in my eyes are I just could't do it! x

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  20. I have no idea what to do, I'm in a dilemma. My baby is 7 months old, when he was 3 months old/3 months into my maternity leave the company I worked for went into administration so therefore made redundant. I'm now at the end of my maternity leave and i'm literally so scared at being back at square one looking for a new job. My husband works full time and can't get days off during the week. We only have my mother-in-law to possibly help with childcare but she can't do it full time. So I'd only be doing part time work which may or may not cover any childcare costs. I love being at home with the baby and I don't want to miss out on anything, I hate leaving the baby when I go out and get a bit anxious that he's missing me and getting stressed out. I really don't want to have to rush into a job that I won't be happy with

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  21. I also work two days a week as a teacher and have two children under 5 everything you say is completely true! Nice to read this in a moment of hat on earth do I do to entertain them today with a pile of marking staring at me! All I want to do is sit with s coffee.

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