The Back-to-Work Balancing Act

Those of you who have been with us since the very early days may remember this post by my wonderful friend Bethan, who had a baby born sleeping. She has kindly written us another post, about returning to work after having her rainbow baby.

Over to Bethan…

‘Part time work and motherhood – can you have it all?

After the birth of my second son, I decided I would like a longer than usual maternity leave and ended up taking 14 months off work to spend time with him. I loved that 14 months. I enjoyed seeing him grow and I felt so much more relaxed this time around. With my first son, I only took six months of maternity leave and returned to work full time – the contrast couldn’t have been more pronounced! However, towards the end of the 14 months, there I was approaching my forties, a qualified accountant who had worked hard and studied hard to get where I was and I found myself thinking… ‘I have a brain and I need to use it!’ I did some initial job searching. I was very lucky and got the first job I went for. This was for a great company who were very pro flexible working and understood what it was like to be a working parent. It was also not very far from home so I could be available in an emergency very quickly. And there the daily cycle of groundhog day began!

Nearly 18 months down the line, I can’t work out if I am thriving off living on the edge or just completely insane?! My daily routine consists of dropping the boys off at nursery and childminder respectively at 8.00am. This allows me to get to work at 8.30am. I have to admit that I do enjoy that morning drive to work and turn the radio up very loud. I probably have something close to a daily epiphany, as the child free time realisation makes me feel 25 again. I then do my day job until 2.30pm, when I do the pick up routine in reverse, praying that I get to both places on time and not stuck behind a tractor (rural living!). Then it’s a quick turnaround at home before I take my children to one of their after school sports/hobbies and this often involves up to three hours of being out of the house, having to entertain the other child during the witching hour!! Aarrrgghhh! We then come home, have tea and then it’s homework/reading/play time and bedtime. Sometimes I eat tea with the kids, sometimes I eat with the husband. It all depends on what it is happening that week. After all of that it’s usually 9.00pm and I end up doing some more work on my laptop, before doing some housework or something on one of my volunteer roles…

The result of all of this – permanent exhaustion. But would I have it any other way? Probably not! I love my children dearly and want them to have every opportunity in life so we pack lots in, but they are thriving and love the routine we have created. Equally I like my job, I am using that brain and I do thrive under pressure. Keeping my hand in my career is important for my self esteem and also there will come a day when the children no longer need me as much, so I will want possibly want to invest more in my career again. Some days I feel that I am putting more effort into them than my work and on other days it’s the opposite, so it is a constant juggling act. The guilt on both sides weighs heavily on my mind. In moments of madness, I will watch ‘Dragons’ Den’ and try to come up with an invention which would allow me to become super rich and spend more time with the children, but then I remember I have three full weekdays with my youngest son which is very good. I can also pick up my eldest son from school every day and drop him off three times a week. And for me nothing beats that shout of, ‘Mummy!’ when I pick them up, so at least I know they have missed me! Can you have it all? I’m still not sure but that will do for now.’

How have you found the return to work? Or have you been able/chosen to stay at home?

Bethan, writing for The Mother Side x

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