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December 3, 2016 at 6:35 am by Angela

It’s been over 10 months now since I went back to work after my maternity leave ended. 10 months! Longer than I was pregnant with Little H. Only 3 months short of how long I was off work. By the time Christmas Day arrives, it will have been over two years since I bid everyone farewell and hobbled off to prepare myself for becoming a mum. In January my baby will turn 2! I’ll be honest, I’m in a state of disbelief about the whole thing. I’m in denial that this amount of time has passed already. It feels to be racing by.

newborn

I have seen a lot of posts from other bloggers recently who have been preparing to return to work. (I particularly like A Mum Track Mind‘s recent post: 10 Difficult Truths About Returning To Work After Maternity Leave which is wonderfully accurate). It’s reminded me of how emotionally turbulent that time is. Last December was when I started settling Little H into nursery. Whilst I knew it would be good for her, it felt like I was ripping out my heart by handing my little helpless person over to people who, whilst lovely and qualified, I didn’t know. I wouldn’t let myself cry, but even now when I hear the tunes of her Fisher Price lunchbox, it takes me back to those dark mornings when I was sat at home without her. Lost.

lunchbox

In a way, actually getting back to work was a blessing. It stopped me dwelling on Little H not being with me. But it was another massive shock to the system. Despite everything I’d coped through in my first year of motherhood, trying to regain my professional self was very hard. It was almost as though the confidence I now felt as a parent had been leached from other areas of my life. I was plagued with self doubt and imposter syndrome!

But days passed. Then weeks. I would hit highs only to have crashing lows. But as the weeks turned to months these leveled off and as I passed the 3 month marker I felt confidence in myself finally returning. My ambition followed behind and I started to really find my stride in the work I was doing. So when members of my team who were previously my direct equivalents (but didn’t go on a 13 month break and return to work part time) got promoted I started to feel a frustration which still plagues me. My part time working is accommodated (indeed supported) but opportunities for me to progress up the ladder feel limited.

So I suppose this brings me to the biggest challenge faced by a working mother: how do you get the right balance? The ambitious worker in me wants to take that next step in her career. But I also relish spending more of my week with H than I do at work; I love our Mondays and Fridays together. I don’t want to look back and regret not enjoying my time with H because I was distracted by work – something I became very sure about with the sudden loss of Mum before H was born. That said, I would at least like to know the door to my career progression is open…

I must have seen this personal ‘dilemma’ coming though, because the other night as I was writing my Gratitude Journal before bed, I flicked to a page at the back. In March I had written some reminders to myself about my priorities.

reminders

  • I chose to work part time.
  • I wanted to go back to my job.
  • But I wanted to spend more than just weekends with H.
  • I knew going p-t [part time] would have an impact on my career.
  • I don’t have the bandwidth I had before whilst also doing childcare.
  • I am confident I made the right choice in going back to work. It has helped me become a fully-rounded version of me again after becoming a mother. I’ve also loved watching H thrive across a home and nursery environment; She enjoys her days there with a different set of games, toys and a group of friends to run around with! We seem to have found a routine that work. But that balance. That elusive balance – between time with Little H and a flourishing career – is something that I’m still aiming for; Is something I suspect I’ll never truly find!

    **Update 09/01/17 – This post was given ‘Feature post’ status by Emily from My Petit Canard for the last #MarvMondays linky of 2016. Thanks Emily!***

    My Petit Canard

     

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    Posted in Mum Life, Work Life
     
    Tags: #CoolMumClub, #DreamTeam, #FamilyFun, #MarvMondays, Balance, Development, gratitude, Loss, Nursery, Toddler, Working, Working Mum,
     
    Some comments:
    1. Find I the balance is really tricky. Do you have the option to do some work from home? Flexible working arrangements have made a big difference to me. I still get to enjoy the work I love, but I do part of it in the evenings while my daughter is sleeping.

      • My work are quite flexible actually and I can easily work at home or catch up in the evening if I need to. To step up, the portfolio of work is just too big to do on reduced hours though; If the role were carved up on the right way then probably not. But I wouldn’t want to risk anything intruding on my SAHM days whilst my daughter is young. Think a lot of the challenge just lies in my head – haha! Thanks for reading x

    2. Oooh it’s so tricky. I’m a stay at home mum, but it has it’s own challenges and worries. I don’t think there is a perfect solution, you just have to do what works for you at the moment. And then keep on assessing as time goes on – is it still working? Does anything need changing? Do I still enjoy this arrangement? Is H still happy with this? etc #MarvMondays
      Lucy At Home recently posted…3 Nativity Christmas Songs For Pre-SchoolersMy Profile

      • I think you’re completely right! I’m my own worse enemy really. I’m terribly competitive so want to still be at the front of the pack at work. But I’m also a realist and know that’s not feasible when I went to spend time caring for my daughter. My daughter loves nursery for those 3 days though so I couldn’t give up my job now even if I ever wanted to (which I don’t). Plus you’re so right that being a Professional Parent like yourself has plenty of other challenges. It’s a whole new level of demanding! Thanks for reading and for your advice xx

      • It’s a massive step going back isn’t it! That’s nice that you are home based though. At least you’ll be in a familiar environment. All the best for Jan and thanks for stopping by xx

    3. Wow you’re really touching on a subject here that is taking up so much space in my mind at the moment! I’m not back at work yet, but I will be, come the end of January! And I’m scared! Honestly if I could’ve avoided going back I would. I can’t imagine having to leave Elliot with strangers, even more so because he is so so mummy-sick, will he even cope?! One thing is that I’ll miss him, but it’ll break my heart if he doesn’t like being there. To add to it I’m going back to work night shifts! And currently the little guy will only settle with me during the night. I hope it’ll all go better than what I fear! Thank you for sharing your story, makes me think that maybe I’ll find enjoyment in returning to work too. xx
      Josefine recently posted…The Choices We Make…My Profile

    4. Thank you for sharing those links! I’ll have a little read through them all later 🙂 I keep telling myself that it’ll all be okay, it’s just my heart and feelings don’t quite believe my brain yet! We are going to be starting to ease Elliot in to nursery soon, hopefully he’ll love it! x
      Josefine recently posted…The Choices We Make…My Profile

      • Yeh, the heart and feelings take a long time to keep up. And even when they do they betray you occasionally! I hope he enjoys nursery. My daughter loves it and it’s been so good for her. Look forward to hearing about it when you start his settles xx

    5. A really interesting read, I return to work in February after maternity leave and have reduced my hours to 3 days (I did 4 days before). At this point I’m quite happy to take a step back from my career, I like that it won’t be so full on and I get to spend more time with my boys. As they get older and don’t need me so much I’ll look to increase my hours again but for now working 3 days is the right balance for our family.

      • That sounds like a great idea! I am really happy with my time at home. Accepting the impact on my career is the hard bit. But I know I don’t have anymore time to spare and I’m working as effectively as I can at work. So it’s just what is meant to be. Plus, you’re right, when kids are older there is definitely enough time to get back into work again! Thanks for reading and all the best with your return in Feb. Enjoy the last few months of Mat Leave x

    6. Gosh it’s hard isn’t it and we all put so much pressure on ourselves. It is scary how quickly time speeds by.
      I’m hoping to juggle a bit about and make a few changes upon my return after maternity leave. Fingers crossed it will all work out!
      #marvmondays 🌺

      • Good luck in organising your return plans. It’s very tricky, especially when your head and heart for quite agree. Guess that’s modern motherhood… Thanks for reading xx

    7. Aaand you find time to blog. I really admire people who have gone back to work even part time. I’ve not gone back to work and I worry I’ve lost a little part of my professional self. I suppose that is what my blog is for. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun
      Karen | TwoTinyHands recently posted…#FamilyFun Week 14My Profile

      • I think you’re to be admired too. It’s hard work to look after a child full-time. Building a successful blog brand on top of that is also hard, hard work. I know how much time I invest in just my posts and commenting. I can’t even imagine how many hours you invest. I think you’re developing a new professional self! Thanks for reading x

    8. Oh I do think it is so hard for woman once they have had a baby and face the return to work debate. You can’t help but feel torn or like you are choosing, you want it all but to me it doesn’t feel like you can. That being said you certainly seem to be happy with your decision and I can totally relate to what you say about a full rounded version of yourself now that you are a mother. I am so pleased to read it has started to level out and you are happy with your choice. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun

      • Yes, I think each and every mother and child is different. And the relationships different families have varies too. So it’s vital to find out what works for all of you and try to not be swayed by everyone else. I still struggle with the career development piece but I know that I won’t compromise on my time with Little H so have to just learn to deal with it! Thanks for reading x

    9. Finding the balance is so hard…I’m not sure I can honestly say I know that many mums who have it but I think I know a couple at least and that has to provide a little hope doesn’t it? Thanks for linking up with #coolmumclub lovely xx

      • That’s great you’ve found a balance that works for you! You’re right it’s different for everyone. I’m actually really happy with our set-up but sometimes my brain doesn’t play ball. Thanks for popping by xx

    10. I can really relate to this post. I’ve definitely found that taking time out to have a baby has totally slowed down my career progress. I think you have to make peace with it for the timebeing and trust that further down the line you will have your time once again. Great post x #coolmumclub

      • Yes you’re quite right. I just find my competitive streak doesn’t always accept that way of life. Getting home to my little girl always grounds me though! Thanks so much for reading x

    11. Hmm, I am (as always) thinking about going back to work. Still thinking. Always thinking.
      Good to read a post from a different perspective to see every side of the story. Thank you for linking to #coolmumclub
      MMT recently posted…#coolmumclub Linky week 50My Profile

    12. I also do 3 days a week and I find it the perfect balance. Like you say they enjoy their time at a different setting without and we can enjoy more days with them that we go to.work 🙂 #familyfun xx

    13. I can imagine it was a really hard decision to make. I went back to work after having my son and it was so hard especially as I worked in the same building and he was quite an unsettled little dude and I could often hear him crying. I didn’t go back after my I had my daughter because believe it or not it just didn’t make financial sense. To be honest I’m glad of that though because I don’t think I’d have time for a proper job. I honestly don’t know how you working mums manage to fit everything in. I take my hat off to you.

      #coolmumclub

      • I think you do yourself a disservice by saying you don’t know how working mums fit it in. I think the demands on a full time SAHM are higher…if not more so. I’m glad you are happy being at home . I just think it’s sad that childcare costs so much that the choice is taken away from many families. Thank-you for reading and be sure to go and get yourself a very well earned cuppa!

      • Yes I can completely relate. I understand it’s not for everyone. Or that some mum’s need to work full time. It saddens me that childcare costs prohibit everyone from having the free choice though. Nor do I want child carers to be poorly paid either for what is critical work in my view. It’s tricky… Thanks for reading x

      • That must have been incredibly difficult having to juggle everything yourself. It’s lovely you now have a string support network around you. Thanks for reading xx

    14. Ahh that elusive balance! My son is 10 and I still work part time. I just haven’t ever found the right time to go back full time. Now that he is off to high school in September I thought it would be then but I’ve realised he’ll need me more than ever. I’ll work school hours and be there when he comes in with highs and lows to share or worries and concerns. My ambitions have never matched up to my desire to be there for my boy. I like to think I’ve got it just right though. I have a good job, with decent money and we’re happy. xx #marvmondays

      • It sounds like you have got a really good balance. I think I’m in a similar mindset to you – my ambitions don’t trump the need to be there for my daughter. I think it’s important to do what brings you the most happiness and contentment in life and home. There will always be something in life one wants to do but they can’t. I think it’s human nature to think bigger! Thanks for reading and good luck with your son’s move to high school. Sounds like he’s going to have great support at home!

    15. What a great idea to have a list of your decisions that you can go back to. I think I need to do something like this. It is really hard to find a balance, and of course everyone’s situations are different and that might dictate on what you do or don’t do.

      Thanks so much for sharing with the #dreamteam X
      Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…#HappyLittleButtons Advent Round UpMy Profile

      • Yeh I’m not sure if I wrote it with a particular view to go back to it. But I happened upon it at a great time. I like to believe I could foresee myself having issues. It’s so hard to stay true to your decisions when surrounded by people with a different focus and goal. I would definitely recommend writing down your goals incase you lose your way! Thanks for reading xx

    16. I so agree with everything you said here! It’s hard going back to work but it does get easier. And part-time is a sacrifice career-wise but worth it. I only hope the world might advance enough that part-time workers will stop being less valued than full time ones. I’m also part-time but I’m sure I do as much as my full-time colleagues for less pay! #kcacols
      The Mum Reviews recently posted…Lessons learned: bus tours are not just for tourists, and always bring a change of clothesMy Profile

      • Yes it’s hard to believe I’m closing in on a year of being back at work! It definitely feels normal now. I’m with you on the sacrifice being worth it. I love having 2 days a week with my daughter. Like you, I’m sure I do a lot more work than my hours would imply. Nobody demonstrates productivity better than a part time working mum! I hope, like you say, that part time workers will be embraced and valued more in the future. After all it’s not just mum’s that want to work less! Thanks for reading x

      • Awww, you poor thing. I would really recommend planning lots of stuff to keep you busy. Do some cleaning, get some exercise in, go to the cinema or just wander the shops. Keeping your mind distracted makes a massive difference in those early days! Hope it goes well and thanks for reading xx

    17. It’s so difficult to get the right balance between spending time with your little one, dealing with work and life in general. I found that I felt so guilty when I went back to work but mainly because when I was home I was always trying to catch up on housework etc that I wasn’t spending quality time with baby K, in the end I took a step back and like you prioritised. So what if there’s a few dishes in the skin or I haven’t done the ironing. So now when it’s my day off on a Wednesday I make sure I spend it with my little man and sod everything else x #KCACOLS
      Jaylan – Diapers at Dawn recently posted…Gingerbread Men Cookie RecipeMy Profile

      • Sounds like you’ve been through a similar ‘journey’ to me! I find life so much better if I timebox chores and then have that time to spend with my daughter. So glad you have now found something that works for you! Thanks for reading x

    18. I really don’t think it’s possible to ‘have it all’ – some things have to go on the back burner when we become mums and unfortunately in many cases it is our careers… #marvmondays

      • You’re right. Just hard to accept that sometimes when absorbed in the moment with colleagues who don’t obviously know the breadth of things going on in your life. But I know I wouldn’t sacrifice the time with my daughter for anything! Thanks for reading x

    19. Such a great post. It is such a struggle being a working mum in so many respects. I found after I returned to work the first time, that it felt likt compromises always had to be made somewhere, and that I was always juggling things. The moving up the career ladder challenge is something that I dont even think most organisations really realise or recgonise yet as an issue. I suspect, that our chance to thrive at work again will only really return once our little ones are a lot older and a little more independent. I’m glad you’ve started to find your feet back in the workplace, its such a relief once you find that equilibrium 🙂 Thanks for linking up with us last year, look forward to seeing you link up again with us this year. Emily #MarvMondays

      • Thanks for such a lovely comment! I think you are so right about employers not recognising progression as an issue for part time workers and / or mums. In a weird way it’s a relief to have the decision made for me, even though I don’t agree that it’s fair and it’s his against my nature! Looking forward to getting back to the linky on Monday! 😊

    20. Feel like I could have written this post!! Thanks for sending it my way – I can totally relate. Makes it so much easier to know we all go through it, and your reasons in your gratitude journal are just the reminder I needed about why I chose the same path. Thanks x
      Devon Mama recently posted…Living Arrows: Week OneMy Profile

      • I’m pleased that you found it useful to read! I remember those early months well and they are tough, but at the same time it goes so fast. Thanks for popping over x

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    Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to one small person. I'm a Techie, Gardener, cake lover and tea addict. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Twitter so you never miss a post. Hope you enjoy reading!


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