It has been nearly 6 months since I started back at work and Amelia has been at the childminders. I’ll be honest its flown by and we both seem to have settled really well into our new routine. I am quite busy at work so thankfully the days are going quickly but I have had a couple of days where I have had a little cry as I have missed her so much.
Although we have both settled into our new routine I’ll put my hands up.. I have really struggled working alongside being a mama to Amelia, a wife to Steve, a daughter, sister, friend etc. I don’t seem to quite have the balance to live up to the expectations of my different roles and it has really taken its toll on me the last couple of months. Now for those that don’t know me very well I am a bit of a perfectionist and a control freak. I like to think of the little things and well with going back to work and having Amelia I am finding I have even less time for this. I’ve felt like I was swimming against a strong tide with no life jacket and drowning in everything and struggling to keep my head above water. I felt like I couldn’t breathe with the pressure of everything until finally I cracked when Amelia started favouring Steve over me. There was nothing I could do to make her want me; it was all about Daddy. My reason for everything I do including going back to work felt like she was resenting me going back to work and leaving her.
I thought the worst part about going back to work was missing her during the day. Not being able to see her and know what her day has been like minute by minute. Not knowing how her mood has been or missing first words or steps. The worst part in reality was the fact that she has learnt to deal without me with the comfort of others, she has realised she doesn’t need me all the time. Although I am so proud of her for gaining some independence I really felt a distance between us. I am not going to lie.. it broke my heart into little tiny pieces. My one year old daughter didn’t seem to need her mummy when she hurt herself or when she was tired. It was either Daddy or literally anyone else. I’m glad that she is so social and loves other people, HOWEVER I was so sad that she didn’t seem to have any attachment to me anymore; her mummy. I felt like I was another person to her rather. Personally I could take the stress of work, the tiredness, and all that goes with trying to keep up with everyday life but this just had broken me. I had a real wobble and started to question whether going back to work in a career that I love was the right decision if it meant I lost the deep relationship with my daughter?
Fast forward to the end of my fifth month and I feel like all those thoughts, feelings and concerns I had during my first and second months back at work are a million miles from where we are today. Who knows what caused Amelia to have a funny phase with me but thankfully it was just a phase. She still is absolutely obsessed with her Daddy (and so she should be!) but she has gone back to wanting mummy too. In a way now when she comes to me, calls for me or cries for me it means more. She knows she doesn’t need me but now she wants ME. A lot has happened in terms Amelia’s development and routine in the last five months with several teeth coming through, several mental development leaps, learning how to walk, learning lots of new words, dropping her morning nap and starting the Milk Ladder. Maybe it was too much change from her normal routine or maybe just was just pushing the boundaries and I took it too personally? I suppose we will never really know but I am just so glad to have my little girl back.
As I returned back into a whole new role with a new team I was really anxious about returning and making an impact. I wanted to make great first impressions and show that I can still be the great employee I was before Amelia now that I am also a parent. It was hard in those first weeks adjusting to new routines, leaving Amelia and having to learn a new role and processes but I think I am just starting to make it out the other side. I am starting to see where I can add my stamp and skill set to drive improvements and I feel that I am starting to make headway on what I can do in the role for 2019. Amelia is still absolutely loving the childminders and I am so glad we decided to via this route for our childcare instead of a nursery. In the last five months she has experienced so many different things from foods to environments, interactions and routines and I am just so proud of her. She has adapted to it all and in my honest opinion is absolutely thriving.
I still feel I am riding a bit of a wave trying to maintain a home, relationships, excelling in my career and with the added throws of recovering from a dislocated knee. Friends and family who have been in similar positions of returning back to work after having a little one have told me that you are always riding a wave and never feel like you have got your sh*t together – you just ride the wave better than you did before. So I am going to continue doing what I can where I can, letting go of things I can’t control and just riding the wave!
Things I have realised or found useful to remember since going back to work:
- Be Organised – I pack Amelia’s bag the night before so it is all ready in the morning. Saves the rush in the morning of trying to get us both dressed and out the door on time.
- Don’t give up your free time with your little one – Be selfish with your free time/weekends. Don’t book yourself up to go here there and everywhere. The best decision I have made is to keep one day free on the weekend for us to spend time together as a family. We have about 45 mins a day together in total which is not a lot at all so when the weekends roll around all I want to do is spend time with Steve and Amelia.
- YOU are also important – in the first couple of weeks I was working 10 hour days and then picking up Amelia, putting her to bed and then logging onto work again or going straight to bed. I felt I had no time for me let alone trying to keep up with family and friends. I lost track of the weeks, birthdays, stuff in the diary and struggled to get to sleep at night even though I was physically exhausted. I decided to book in 30 minutes a day to just sit. I could choose what I wanted to do but those 30 mins I don’t have to be an employee, a mother, a wife, a friend.. .I could just be me. I gave myself these 30 mins right before bed in the hope that this would help me settle to sleep and it did. I started to read during this time which was just wonderful to get through some of the books that have been sitting by my bed for a while. I now have started to also spend some time writing again, running Stilla Jewellery or just messaging friends and family. I can’t begin to tell you how it has helped me to improve my mental state and absolutely encourage you to have this as part of your daily routine. We always spend our time looking after others and its important we give ourselves some time for some TLC!
- Have goals that you want to achieve – give yourself some focus in and outside of the work environment that you want to achieve. Use your time to ensure that everything you do focuses on the goal you are trying to achieve. For me going back to work is the next step to achieve my next goals on a personal and professional level. This has helped me to realise and remember that going back to work was the right decision for me.
- Don’t feel guilty – I have struggled with this the most. Guilty I haven’t seen Amelia enough in the day, guilty that I haven’t messaged my friends back, guilty that I don’t seem to have my sh*t together when other mum’s do. Do your best and let go of the rest… If your friends are good enough they won’t care if you haven’t messaged them back, no mum has their sh*t together they just hide it well and even the smallest amount of time spent together with your little one is just so precious. You are doing enough!
- Enjoying work – Don’t feel guilty about enjoying going back to work. Enjoy that time feeling like the old you. Make sure you get that balance between work and home life correct. It will take time but once you have found that balance it will settle down a little bit. I have been extremely lucky to have such a supportive employer, manager and team on my return back to work which has made life a lot easier. Don’t take on too much which rocks that work life balance and just remember when you have had a bad day you always get to come home to your little one!
- Flexible Working Hours – have that conversation with your company and understand what they can do to support you returning back to work as a new parent or how they can continually support you. I returned back to work on 4 days a week and that absolutely is the right balance for me. I still get one whole day of just Amelia and I and then another two days together as a family so don’t feel like I have given up too much time with her. I also have a flexible working arrangement which just takes the pressure off completely. I have to work my hours in a day but there isn’t a rigid structure to it which has really helped with Amelia’s Paedatrician and Dietician appointments as well as my fracture clinic and Physio appointments for my knee. As I am able to start and finish around Amelia it has meant that I am able to meet Amelia’s needs but still meeting my job requirements and deliverables. I get the best of both worlds which helps me to deliver on both roles. I am not sure I would have copied quite as well with returning to work etc without this flexibility. I am really lucky that my company fully supports working parents returning back to work and also offer Flexible Working Hours. Definitely have the conversation with your company and open up the dialogue to see how they can support you – you might be surprised!
In a nut shell these last five months have been such a roller coaster from regretting my decision to go back to work, wondering if I am good enough to do my new job to absolutely loving my role and enjoying that I am providing for my family. I do absolutely miss spending 24/7 with Amelia and there have been some days where I just can’t face being away from her but all in all going back to work was the right decision for me, for her and for our family. I hope you find some of the tips/suggestions I have made useful!