It’s been six week since I went back to work and four of those have been doing my full three days in the office with the girls to look after at home on the other two. It’s gone far more smoothly than I had anticipated (to date…) but it has been quite a reality check, reminding me that keeping-up a job alongside small children is like tightrope walking whilst juggling plates: one unanticipated gust and I go crashing down, smashing all the plates in the process!
I knew in the run-up to my return to work that keeping the house in order would be tricky when I went back to work. I invested time back in January to work out a way to fit in the housework without it feeling like a burden. In the instragram parent world there are always lots of tips flying around and one very popular approach is The Organised Mum Method. However, her technique relies on a 30 minute window each day – which I don’t have on work days. So instead I heeded a few words of advice from a book I recently read and listed out all of the tasks that need doing routinely broken down into 15 minute chunks. I then devised a fortnightly routine. As I’m at home two additional days compared to Sam, I do take on a larger number of the chores. But I make sure I get my 30 minutes done across one or both of Little Z’s naps whilst Little H colours or has a TV break. We’re on the 4th rotation now and it’s starting to bed in. So far I have managed to get all of my Monday and Friday tasks done as planned; at some point something will happen and I won’t. But I am finding by touching all the main areas on a fortnightly basis, there isn’t much of a build-up of dust or dirt making the jobs quite quick.
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about being back at work is how easily I can be thrown from ‘in control’ to full-on anxiety mode. Today, a weekend day no less, Little Z has been slightly warmer than normal – a borderline temperature, not a fever. Aside from this she has been in good humour and only a little more tired due to a restless night last night. But… but. My fever anxieties have already reared their ugly heads and I have been on edge all day. I worry she’ll be ill. I worry she’ll sleep badly and feel awful tomorrow. I worry I’ll get disturbed overnight and feel terrible looking after the girls tomorrow. I worry she’ll get poorly and won’t be able to go to nursery on Tuesday meaning I have to miss work. Worry, worry, worry.
I am trying incredibly hard to keep on top of my anxieties but as a natural worrier anyway, when I get pushed over the edge I really struggle. My mind can still see the situation with a sense of perspective but I am just unable to make my thoughts and actions heed that view and stop myself from worrying. I think one of the additional reasons I struggle is I have lost almost all of my down time. When I was on maternity leave, I was able to take some time during Little Z’s naps on the days Little H was at nursery. Now the girls are both at home together so when Little Z sleeps, I need to do jobs and also spend time with Little H. My only opportunity to get a break, aside from evenings, is on Saturday afternoons. Sam takes Little H and often, although not always, Little Z will nap at the same time. I have started to be incredibly strict with myself so that as soon as it’s just me, I make a cuppa, grab a snack and sit and stick one of my shows on TV for however long I get. No phone. No laptop. Not folding. Just sitting. And that small rest reminds me that I need to make time to just sit and that whilst I feel I should be doing something, it’s better for us all if I have a bit of timeout for myself.