HOW IT FEELS TO BE BACK AT WORK
So I've done it, I've completed my first full week back at work.
When I tell people I've just gone back to work full time after maternity leave (in a new job no less!) most people's reaction is "oh what a shame" and "oh you poor thing, couldn't you have done part time" or "why go back if you don't really have to" which is something that I kind of struggle with to be honest. It was my CHOICE to go back full time. Please don't feel sorry for me, or think that it makes me a bad mum because (after taking 12 months practically unpaid to spend with my son) Frank now goes to nursery for most of the working week.
I love my job… I don't want to do it part time, and I don't want to be a stay at home mum… there, I said it. What a terrible person I must be!
I've always loved working. I like doing well, hitting targets, and over achieving. I love the negotiating, adding value to businesses and really making a difference to how an organisation can work. I like earning my own money… and that feeling at the end of the day, when you know you've absolutely nailed it, and you are worth every penny of that pay check.
I had actually originally only planned to take 6 months off, but the thought of giving up spending time with Frank to return to a job that I hated, filled me with dread. I am not planning on having any more children (I literally have ZERO desire!) and I've known that pretty much all along, so I wanted to make the most of my one and only maternity leave, and I didn’t want to give up that time to do something that I really didn't want to do.
So I extended my leave, and I took 12 months (before taking a new role). Which, on paper, seems like an eternity, but in reality, it flew by. In my very naïve opinion, I thought I was getting a free break from work… a holiday if you will… and once I had "figured out" how to do the mum thing, I would have so much spare time that I was going to take up yoga, learn a language, or something else completely and utterly unrealistic!
Turns out I was far too busy for any of that, but I was also having way more fun with Frank than I ever imagined. I was more fulfilled and content than I ever thought possible, and he is without question, my biggest achievement of all.
Then all of a sudden, he wasn't a baby anymore. He was a walking, talking, cheeky little boy, and it was time for me to return to "normal" life… and I'm not going to lie… I was ready. I worked really hard in my 20's to carve out a good, solid career, and I don't want to give that up yet.
Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely loved spending the first year of Franks life in our own little bubble. I miss him like crazy when I'm not around him, but then that smile I get when I pick him up from my mums or nursery, or the extra special time we spend together at a weekend, absolutely makes it worth while, because I know I am doing the right thing for him, and for me.
It helps that Frank is a very, very sociable little boy, and absolutely loves going to nursery. He is such a happy, playful little thing, that spending the day with groups of other children, interacting, playing and learning every day, absolutely suits him down to the ground. I fell in love with his nursery as soon as I looked around, and I think all the staff are absolutely fantastic… turns out they feel the same about Frank as well (obviously!)
With my new role, I've gone back to a job that I love. A job that absolutely makes it worth going back for. I was craving adult conversation… being able to think about more than nap times, play times, and feeding schedules. And, as selfish as it sounds, I was excited to have a bit of the "old me" back.
Walking in on my first day felt quite overwhelming, not only was I going back to work after a whole year off, but I was doing it at a new company, in a new job. At first it felt foreign, even things like getting ready that morning felt strange, like I was putting on fancy dress after 12 months of casually dressing. I had been questioning myself a lot before returning - what if I couldn't do it. What if my choice to take a year out had set me back too far in my career to recover.
I needn't have worried. It was like putting on a pair of comfy shoes, it just felt right, like I had never been away, and I'm feeling more and more confident every day. Confident both in myself, and also in Frank… that he is absolutely fine without me by his side all day, every day.
As with any new job, there will be moments where I feel out of my depth, or self conscious, plus I am getting my head out of "baby mode" and back into "work mode" again. But it helps that (so far anyway!) the team and company are fantastic to work with. They are supportive, understanding, and flexible which I didn't get in my previous employment, and is very rare to find in workplaces today - particularly in the technology industry, which remains a very male orientated environment (an archaic attitude towards women and an old fashioned "old boys club" workplace made me feel unable to return to my previous role and company)
One thing I have learnt, is organisation is KEY! I am normally an organised person anyway, but now I need to be even more so. I use the evenings to get as much done as possible, keeping the house as clean and tidy as I can, plus getting everything ready for work/ Frank before I go to bed.
Every night I get Franks clothes ready for the morning, so his bag for nursery is packed with spare outfits, and I can just grab what I need to get him dressed really quickly in the morning. I plan what I am going to wear and make sure it is hung up, clean and ironed. For the days he spends with my mum, I also make sure the change bag is fully stocked and all the food he needs is in one place ready to be packed up and taken with us.
I'm not going to lie, I am tired this week… I get very little downtime, and I go from one full time job, to another full time job of being mama to a rather lively one year old and keeping house. The juggle is definitely worth it, but it's going to take me some time to get used to it.
It is great to be back - using my brain, collaborating, learning, meeting new people and working with my customers… but the best part of the day is when I walk into that room and see little eyes light up as he runs towards me shouting "mama"
Now that is the stuff worth working for.