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.

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.

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