Returning to work: What I’m looking forward to. 

With less than one week to go until I return to work, I’m actually feeling alright about not only returning to work, but leaving T at nursery (maybe it’s because they’ll then be dealing with a teething baby).

Taking myself out of the role of ‘mum’, there are actually a few things I’m looking forward to when I return to work:

1. Hot drinks. 

I never thought I’d miss something so much as I do a hot drink. Drinks these days are either thermonuclear or luke warm, and are hardly ever consumed at a relaxing pace.

A poor excuse for a coffee

A poor excuse for a coffee

2. Completing a task.

I’m forever completing tasks, but never the original task I planned to do. Breakfast? In between that I would have diverted to put the washing up away, diverted to put a wash on, and walked T around the lounge a few times; thus leading to point 1.

Returning to work will mean starting something and finishing it without getting interrupted.

3. Adult conversation (that doesn’t include baby talk). 

I’m so proud of T, so of course I’m going to want to shout it from the rooftops, not to mention talk about the stresses of parenthood, but every now and again I miss chatting about non-parenting matters.

The other day, whilst chatting with friends, our topic of conversation went from feminism, to music, to our favourite sandwiches. It was brilliant. It gave me a break from being “mum”.

4. Me time. 

Although work will be work, so I won’t necessarily be able to think about much else, I know I won’t be thinking about what I’m doing for T’s dinner, or that I need to get that white vest out of the bucket of vanish.

5. Clean clothes. 

After a day with T, I often look like someone who’s just completed a bush-tucker trial; with debatable stains on my top, and crusty patches on my jeans that I can’t remember putting there.

I’ll be wearing a uniform at work which not only means that I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear, but it’s unlikely I’ll end my shift with sticky stuff on me (unless I miss my mouth whilst eating a jam doughnut).

6. Missing T. 

This sounds like an odd one, but hear me out.

At the moment I spend every day with T, so I don’t often get a chance to really “miss him”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t aim to get rid of him, but the only time we part ways is when T is in bed, and even that is short lived as he often still wakes in the night.

Going to work will give me a chance to miss him, and him miss me (hopefully).

******

There’s no doubt about it that the first few weeks are going to be tough, especially on days when T isn’t happy about being left, but thinking about the above points is going to make it easier (for me, anyway), not to mention the fact that I genuinely think nursery will be good for T. He’ll make new friends, and learn new things.

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How did you cope returning to work? What made it easier for you? What did you look forward to?

K

Maternity Leave: More Than Just Babies. 

With less than two weeks to go until the dreaded return date, I wanted to reflect on what maternity leave has been like for me (in a nutshell, mind you. We don’t want to open THAT can of worms).

Maternity leave. It’s a big one. Not just in time; although for some it isn’t, but in meaning. When you go on maternity leave there’s this HUGE expectation that you have, let’s face it, a lot of time off. Time off that you think will last a lot longer than it actually does. It doesn’t. Time off that you think will give you a chance to “get stuff done”. You don’t.

 

I just tidied up!

More often than not, there’s this assumption that maternity leave will be this magical time filled with Instagram worthy moments, and days that flow nicely from start to finish. Sure, some days are like that. Some days you will just “win”. But other times you’re just happy you’ve got to the end of the day.

Maternity leave is far from a holiday, which is why you have to take the little things as a gain, although for me they’re definitely not “little things”. Instead of thinking what you haven’t done, remember what you have done. 

Here’s what my maternity leave looked like in addition to, of course, keeping a baby alive:

Blogging.

I started blogging to document our TTC journey and capture T growing up. Little did I know that I would still be doing it years to come and that I would gain several friends from the process!

Babywearing.

Before T was here, babywearing was alien. A skill there was no way I’d be able to master. In fact, I thought the buggy would be my friend. But thanks to an idiot dog who likes to run in front of the buggy, and a Velcro baby, I quickly got into babywearing. So much so that I now hear myself telling S about the different threads and carriers, and how much of an “investment” they are.


My OCD

Before babies I had a strict routine. Not just related to timing, but how I would deal with certain scenerios. For some reason, with all the chaos that comes with babies, my OCD has been toned down a little which has been one of the biggest leaps for me. A relief, in fact.

It was a genuine concern of mine, when I was pregnant, that I wouldn’t be able to cope with having to prepare a baby bag as well as check that all the plugs in the house were switched off. I still have bad days, but more often than not I do ok managing a baby and my OCD.

TV

Oh the TV. Some would say the TV is counter productive but I love TV. I defend my opinion with the fact that I don’t watch trash TV. Sure, I don’t watch University Challenge, but I watch shows that require some thought (that’s my defence, anyway).

Over the past 11 or so months, I’ve watched several box sets (they’re almost like books, right?) as well as films I never got to watch the first time round. These are genuine accomplishments for me as I rarely got to watch much telly whilst working shifts. They’ve kept my brain ticking as well as let me escape back into the land of Kate for a while.

Reading

I LOVE READING. Like the TV (kinda), books let me escape for a bit. Not only do they take me into a new world, but they also take me to a hotel poolside or the beach. To me, books aren’t just about the subjects they’re about.

Thanks to my bucket list challenge, I’m trying really hard to make use of nap time and feeds to read.

Since T was born, I’ve read six books. SIX. Adult books at that. That’s not bad going for me considering I was regularly interrupted as soon as T hit 3 months or when I went weeks without out picking up a book because of other commitments.


New friends

This is a big one for me, and probably the most life changing one. Parenting can be a lonely place, despite being part of the biggest club in the world. You can go to all the groups in the world but as soon as that group is over, you’re back at home. Alone.

I’ve been very lucky over the past 12 months and have gained some genuine friends. Friends from the blogging and the “real” world. They have kept me company. They have kept me sane.

 

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New friends

So there we have it. My maternity leave. It looks pretty bleak in black and white, but it’s hard to put into words what it’s been like emotionally. It’s been one hell of a ride.

When I first started my maternity leave back in February 2015 I had no idea what to expect (apart from said baby… eventually). I didn’t think I’d be so busy, I didn’t know I’d doubt myself so much, I didn’t think I’d need more than S to keep me company – I’ve always been really independent.

I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard. But, if I’m being honest, I’ve enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve completed a dozen marathons and still wanting more.

It feels like an end of a era, but it’s only the beginning!

Do you agree? What else did you gain from your maternity leave?

K

A Month To Go

In a months time my maternity leave will be coming to an end and I will be returning to work.

The thing is, I don’t really know how I feel about it.

At this very moment, when thinking about returning to work full time, my heart aches and there is a lump in my throat. I don’t want to go back. There, I said it. I want to stay at home with my son and watch him grow.

I have been trying to convince myself that maternity leave is not “normality”. It’s just a section of leave after having a baby. For us, “normality” will be dropping T off at nursery and going to work. But I don’t want that to be our normality. I want to stay with T. But we can’t afford it.

What if I miss something? What if he misses me? Will he eat? Will he sleep?

I know that nursery will do him the world of good. It will socialise him further and encourage independence. For me, I will get some of my identity back. I can’t argue with that. However, the selfish part of me wants to stay at home with him and keep him all to myself. There, I said it again.

See, I’ve loved maternity leave. I knew I would. Don’t get me wrong, there have been hard times, moments of despair, occasions when I’ve been exhausted. But becoming a mother has been my dream. My goal. So maternity leave was my time to finally enjoy what I’ve been longing for for so long. Become the mother I always wanted to be.

But the trouble with maternity leave is that you fall into this sense of comfort. A routine. Every week is roughly the same. Baby groups, swimming, “play/coffee dates”, library visits. For some, this would be/is hell. For me, it was perfection. I was finally a parent, doing “parenty” things, hanging out with my baby. I loved it. I really did.


At the moment I’m trying to soak up every second, cherish every minute. Not because he’s growing up, that bit is quite exciting now, but because it’s all going to change soon. I wonder if he knows this time we have at the moment is going to end soon? I hope not, I certainly wouldn’t want him to feel the way I feel right now.

K

My Last Shift

My last day was great – obviously a lot shorter due to working less hours than normal (from around 32 weeks I decided to drop down from 8-10 hour shifts to a nicer 6 hour shift as I ended up coming home in agony thanks to back/sciatic pain and SPD pain) but I still had a blast, and did very little work!

When someone leaves the tradition is to usually get “dirty refs”/take-away as your last meal together, so in keeping with tradition we got take-away, however I fought with everyone to let me decided to buy and got a couple of pizzas in which I thought would be a nice treat. Feeding 8 grown men is easier said than done when you’re watching the wallet and they have stomachs the size of tanks, but thanks for deal hunting and I did it!

As mentioned, I work in a team of boys solely boys and behave/get treated as their old sister, younger sister, and mother all at once so I didn’t really expect anything special for my last day; maybe a card, as most of the time it would be me reminding them to do something like this. Plus, my work don’t usually do anything like a collection until after the baby has arrived, so I was quite content with nothing happening.

However, during said last meal my team suddenly topped my treat with these…

I got a huge, gorgeous bouquet of flowers, a mini orchid, a massive carrot and walnut cake (my favourite!) and a card. The cake was actually planned weeks in advance and was baked by one of the boy’s mums which one of the boys ALSO had to travel by train to collect as they only have a moped as their mode of transport – that hit a heartstring for me. They also hinted that more will be on the way once fidget arrives! It was magical, and if they’d caught me a week ago I would have cried my eyes out. They really blew my last shift out of the water and made me feel very loved – it was special.

My team is like a second family to me which made leaving so very hard – I really didn’t want to say goodbye. I know it’s not forever and I’ll still speak to them via various social media forums, and don’t get me wrong I couldn’t wait to generally get the hell out so I could start the wind down for this baby, but when I’ve been used to seeing the boys almost every day I get used to them being part of my day. They’re a part of my life, so now not having that regular contact will feel very strange.

Once fidget is born we’re planning to “wet the baby’s head” and I’ll no doubt take fidget into work so they can meet their many “uncles” (and so I can have a catch up/gossip) but it’s still very alien knowing that at the moment, I’m not going back.

K