I have now been back at work over a week and it has been a really lovely and unexpected surprise. I came back in a week where the weather was warm and sunny and it has been Easter holidays, so the traffic has been minimal as I drive in from Windsor to Roehampton so it can be a nightmare on the M4. I am sure throwing me into a false sense of security around this whole working mother world and I’m sure before long I will be crying out to be back on maternity leave and not stuck in hours of traffic, with a screaming sick child at home. What I must say is that the night before I came back I did find it really weird, I felt really sad and not about coming back but what I was saying goodbye to and what had been my life for the last 11 months. It is one of the biggest changes and a completely new chapter in your life, which I probably haven’t experienced since going to university or starting my first job where life catches up with you and you have to become this new person with an identity to the outside world.
On the Clara front, she has settled in really well to nursery, we had a bit of an poonami incident on the first day which meant she went through two changes of clothes and ended up in this lumberjack/boys outfit which I actually found quite funny. Poor thing! We have had a few tears when we leave her but within minutes she is fine and although it does tug on the heart strings, it is really important to remember that it is normal. I would be more worried if she didn’t cry and was fine about it. As mothers we should have guilt tattooed across our foreheads, just as an extra reminder every time we look in the mirror, as we obviously don’t feel it enough every day.
What she did struggle with after a few days was settling to go to sleep at night, she wailed and the only way we could settle her was to hold her or just rub her back whilst she fell asleep. She has been a dream the last few months with going to bed at night but I think it is just with all the change, she is worried we are going to leave her again. A real tough one. However on Sunday night, we really spent time talking to her before bed saying that she has a whole day with us on Monday and we aren’t going anywhere and we will be there when she wakes up. I know she is only 10 months old, but these little people are super smart and she went right to sleep.
The way I am finding it easier to deal being back at work and a working mum, is chatting to people at work who have kids. You will uncover a whole community of parents who are hiding their bags under their eyes, struggles with day care and long sleepless nights. It is a relief to do this and be able to just normalise it in some way and also then have people that can sympathise with you and if you are feeling guilty, ease some of that. What I have been trying to do this week is have early nights as Clara has taken to waking up pre 6am, which is a bit of a shock when you then also need to do a full days work. What has been a life saver is just not planning anything in the evenings and as the week progress slowly adding more in. Before long this will all feel quite normal but in the meantime taking very baby steps to the whole situation. What I am loving is the enormous big cuddles and smile when I pick her up or get home and that special hour with her for dinner, bath and bed.
On the work front, I have had a brilliant first week and it has been really refreshing getting back and I have absolutely loved it. I have played my music so loud in my car with a bit of Drake Passionfruit playing (yes I can still be cool and a mum!!) had a big national media launch for Tennis for Kids (if you haven’t already and you have little one’s between 5-8 years old sign them up now, it’s amazing) had lots of great meetings and loving being back in the thick of it and getting planning for our tennis season and Wimbledon.
It’s nice to be able to feel at the moment I can balance it all and have the best of all worlds and have also tried to get in a couple of gym sessions too. I so looked forward to the weekend and having quality time with her, something I was beginning to find hard with things to entertain her but now I can really enjoy every moment of her including my Monday’s off, which today we went to Highclere Castle with the family and it was amazing and a great day out.
So to finish off and a bit of advice, just take things really slowly and easy in your first weeks back, know that most of what you are feeling and the way they are behaving is normal and don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing an amazing job and from someone who always and still does have a working mum, I couldn’t be prouder of her and she is absolutely my role model for my life and career. So be the same for your kids.
How did you settle into your first week back or are you worried about going back and if so is there anything that is particularly worrying you?
Lauren – workingmummablog