A reluctant soon-to-be full-time working mum

When my HR representative asked me about my maternity leave plans when I was pregnant, I made some vague noises about probably taking the full 12 months that I was allowed, maybe, I guess. The truth was, I had no idea how this whole baby thing was going to go. Could I really be a full-time SAHM for an entire year? Could I even afford it, given that a big chunk of that time would be unpaid? Would I go mental being in the house alone with a small screaming person all day?

To all of the above: yes. Maternity leave has been the best/hardest/most tiring/most rewarding period of my life – and soon it will be over.

I thought I might go back to work part time, but for professional and financial reasons, I’ve discovered that’s not going to be possible. So in a few months, I’ll be back in an office full time. The Popple will be in a nursery. And I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with only seeing this face for a few hours in the morning and evening each week day.

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Look, I know I’ve been extremely lucky to have had this much time off with her. By the time I go back to work, the Popple will be a year old. Most of my friends and family in the US were only able to take 3 months of maternity leave, and here I am, whining about the end of my 12-month SAHM stint. I feel like a real d*ck. But it’s going to be hard. Baby groups, soft play, marathon buggy walks…this is my world now. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go to an office wearing clothes that have been ironed, to sit in meetings about monthly content plans and social media strategies, to have a lunch break that doesn’t involve watching your lunch companion throw their food on the floor.

There are some days when I long for that office world, usually because the Popple has just stuck her foot into her poopy nappy or tried to gouge my eyes out with her baby claws because she wants to figure out how my eyelids work. But then I think about how much she laughs when she shakes her head ‘no’. Or how I feel when she says, ‘mama’, even though it’s not directly at me and is usually followed by several raspberries. Or how much she loves that stupid green plastic triangle that she carries around with her everywhere. And my uterus weeps a little.

So, full-time working mums – how do you manage your work/life balance? Do you love going to work and using your pre-baby skills, or do you wish you could spend more time at home? Is leaving your wee one as hard as I think it’s going to be?

Please tell me it’s not going to be that hard.

I kind of miss her already.

27 Replies to “A reluctant soon-to-be full-time working mum”

  1. Something About Baby says: Reply

    This post has come at a very appropriate time as I am having a back to work chat with my manager today! I am hoping to return 4 days a week, but the likelyhood is I will probably have to go back full time. I am also having a year off, and although many people tell me how “lucky” I am, I knew I would need that time if I was going back full time to make me feel like I haven’t missed out (too much!) But as hard as it will be, Alfie has a fabulous nursery to go to (I’m quite jealous, it’s on a farm!) and I know he’ll probably have much more fun there than with me!! Good luck for your return to work #twinklytuesday

    1. I think it’s hard to go back no matter how much time you’ve had off, but I know the Popple will enjoy nursery – she’s fascinated by other babies. I’m hoping nursery will teach her how to share too – something she hasn’t quite grasped yet.

    2. Reneé Mendoza says: Reply

      I can relate to these articles. I’m off this year with my precious baby boy and don’t want to go back to work fall 2017.:( I do feel blessed that in a couple more years my husband approves of me taking off again with our next child and homeschooling hopefully!

  2. Big hugs lovely. I have been there and I think you will find the anticipation of what is going to happen is actually worst than the reality. Of course you will miss her but you will also find that your days go quickly and before you know it is like you were never away! And think of the positives, you will be able to drink your hot drinks actually hot and go to the toilet without an audience 🙂 #twinklytuesday

    1. There’s a lot to be said for a hot cup of tea and having a pee in peace!

  3. I have 4 kids. I worked up until #4 arrived. When I went back after my first I found it hard after 9 months, the guilt was immense. Some people work who were also mums made me feel better. said its ok to feel this way. The time you get in the mornings and evenings is short. It became even more hectic with baby #2. I took a year out. #3 i took 18 months out. going back became harder and harder. #4 is now one and i have given up work. this was also hard but it was the only sensible thing to do. Going to work i found is so much easier though. uninterrupted toilet breaks, grown up chats, hot coffee. Focus on the positives. baby will get interaction with her peers. She will be just fine. And so will you. 🙂 all the best.

    1. Thanks! I know it will all work out – I just think the adjustment is going to be difficult. I’m definitely looking forward to grown-up discussions that don’t revolve around poo or sleep training.

  4. I feel for you. I’ll be going back soon too, after 10 months off but I’m very grateful to be going back part time. I don’t mind the actual being at work bit, I know he’ll be well looked after and having fun with grandparents and at nursery. I do worry about missing the milestones though, and feeling rushed at the beginning and the end of the day. I don’t want to the stress of getting to and home from work to impact on the reduced time we do have together. Good luck with your return xx #TwinklyTuesday

    1. I wish my daughter could spend some time with grandparents while I was at work! They’d love to watch her for me, but they all live overseas. I’m worried about having to rush around too – right now we’re on a pretty relaxed schedule based upon when the Popple wakes up and what she wants to do.

  5. I thoroughly recommend doing what my (Glaswegian as it happens) wife did and marrying a man who was happy to become a stay at home dad! Best of luck on your return to work. I hope it isn’t too hard. But if you’ll excuse the pedantry, maternity leave, as from April 2015, is two weeks. Anything beyond that is shared parental leave. #twinklytuesday

    1. Good point bout that parental leave – it’s great that dads can take time off to help raise their babies too. I’ve been lucky that my husband’s work as an academic is flexible, so he’s been able to be really involved with the Popple, especially in the early days.

  6. I went back part time after 14 months off so insane! It was more of getting used to the routine of it all. My daughter loves nursery..I missed her but knew she was happy so felt OK! I think give it a month and you’ll be feeling settled. Those cuddles at pick up time are ace too! Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and good luck!!

    1. I’ll just keep trying to think of those post-nursery cuddles!

  7. Im a full time working mum and it is hard at first but then i see how much my little girl has come on in nursery and it makes me smile. I also cherish more the time i have with her of an evening and night. A bonus is also seeing her little excited face when I pick her up from nursery #familyfun

    1. That’s a good point – maybe working will make what little time we get to spend together more special.

  8. I went back to work after 6 months off and my little boy goes to nursery full time. It is the best thing that I have done. We enjoy amazing family weekends, and have a good solid routine throughout the week. Nursery was probably the thing I was most worried about, but he absolutely loves it, and he is learning and developing so much #bestandworst

    1. It’s great to hear that nursery is helping your boy develop – I’m hoping the same will be true for my wee one!

  9. Ahh lovely, hopefully when you get to it and both settle into the new routine it will feel fine. My sister works full time and enjoys the challenges of work and the balance of the special moments at home too. #familyfun

    1. I’m hoping that I’ll get that balance right – challenging work and family time – but it’s hard to know how it’s going to work. I know lots of people manage it, so I should be able to also…right?

  10. Such a great post relevant to so many people and emotional too. I remember this time well. I only had 3 months with my first and 6 with the second but I chose to work part time. I was lucky but it was a massive wrench financially for us. I hope your return goes smoothly. I can totally understand why you are going to miss that gorgeous face. TY for linking up with #FamilyFun 🌸

  11. Oh hun, you’ll find a way through it. I wish I had some advice for you but I don’t. Make the most of the time you do get. x

  12. agentspitback says: Reply

    I’m sure you’ll find an ideal balance for you and your family. I had a variety of work arrangements and childcare arrangements for my own children. I would say introduce the childcare arrangement before you return to work so that your baby has the time to get used to the new arrangements. Good luck! Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything

  13. I had nine months off, going back was hard, still kind of is, but you get in to the routine of it. The guilt is normal and as hard as it is sometimes you it is nice to have that adult interaction and like most mums have said hot cup of coffee!
    Baby will love nursery, my little man started at exactly nine months and he loves it, which helps!
    Good luck for when you do go back, trust me the days go by so quick before you know it you’ll be picking little lady up and be back at home xx #familyfun

  14. Oh bless you. I have no words of wisdom but the thought of ironing clothes fill me with horror! I’m sure you will enjoy time to just be you again and having adult company. And your time together will be even more special, too. Good luck! #FamilyFun

  15. Huge hugs being sent your way.
    I’m still at home with my 11-month-old, and we have been lucky enough for things to still be working out that way. I’m sure your daughter will love nursery, and the social interaction with other kids her age will really help her (: You’ll find the perfect balance for your family <3

  16. entertainingelliot says: Reply

    I have friends who have gone back to work and they said although it was a struggle at first, they enjoy the lunchbreaks and getting to drink a cup of tea whilst hot! Good luck with it all xx #twinklytuesday

  17. It is so hard to find what works for you, but the most important thing is to not feel guilty, you will have days that are hard, but also it will be worth it, you will make it work because you do what you can for your family. enjoy the adult time, the peaceful breaks and the extra smiles when you pick up Popple, #FamilyFun x

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