The working mum experience: Part 1 – My return from maternity leave

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The working mum experience: Part 1 - return from maternity leave

So the time finally came.

My year of maternity leave ended and I was left with the choice between returning to work, or becoming a stay at home mum.

Obviously, I turned to the inspirational memes for guidance in making this monumental and potentially life changing decision but sadly they were as wanky and passive aggressive as each other.

This was a choice I needed to make myself. Enter the pros and cons list.

On the face of it, neither really appealed that much.

I like the generally pleasing yourself that comes with being a stay at home parent, and (let’s be honest) the lack of children that comes with going to work, plus the fact that you need your brain for more than counting to 20 and remembering whether kid’s TV programmes are on Netflix or Iplayer. Oh, and the lunch breaks.

In an ideal world, I would probably be sunbathing my toned body on a luxury yacht sipping cocktails while a nanny watched the kids.

In fact, it would probably be best if they stay at home, kids and boats don’t really mix… Sadly, this isn’t an option right now (I remain an optimist).

What I would quite like to be doing

Perhaps the next best (and slightly more realistic) option would be a nice blend of the two worlds.

A few days at home with my darling cherubs and then a couple of days in the real-life adult world with the big people who don’t need you to wipe their bums for them.

However, like many, many mums before me, I’ve come to the realisation that the notion that times have improved, that women can have it all, that it is possible to achieve that elusive work life balance, was all a bit of a con.

The workplace where I had put in many long hours over more than seven years were about as inflexible as they could be. After the birth of my daughter, and then my son: Request submitted, request denied.

My new colleagues. They’re cuter than my old ones for sure.

The sad choice for me was to return full time or not at all.

As much as I’d love to do a five day week on four hours’ sleep a night, risk missing out on my kids’ milestones and dealing with the huge mumguilt that would probably come with it, and due to living in the merry old South East of England, pay out over two grand a month in childcare for the privilege, the finances just didn’t add up. I would barely be breaking even. The harsh reality of exorbitant childcare is almost enough to put you off having kids altogether, even if the thought of pregnancybirth and never sleeping again isn’t.

And this time around, you know what? I wasn’t upset. Thanks perhaps in part to this very blog and the new skills I’ve learned I realised that it wouldn’t spell the end of my career forever.

I didn’t need to be scared*.

I was going to be a Stay At Home Mum.

Despite having spent over two years out of the past three doing this exact thing, this time it was a little different. This time it was official. I would be flying solo and there would be nothing to go back to.

Under my work on Facebook, it would say ‘Blogger and Full Time Yummy Mummy**’.

This is the kind of thing I
will now be spending my time on

But wait: there was a twist.


Before I could fly free, I first had to serve one final two-week stint in the world of work.

After pulling the rug out from underneath me and the offer of a jobshare suddenly withdrawn, I was offered the opportunity to pay back my enhanced maternity pay with my holiday pay (ha bloody ha, right?) or come back for the required three months, using my accumulated holiday to cover all but two weeks.

So that is what I did.

Read part two here.



*I’m probably stupid.
**It won’t. It would be both factually inaccurate and a little nauseating.

 

33 Comments

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