Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Leave your guilt at front door and grab yourself a cuppa - The end of maternity leave...

So, today marked the end of eight and a half months off work. Eight and a half months jam packed with happy memories. Charlie starting his school, Hector being born and the whole summer off with Tom and the boys, a time that we will never have again.

I chose to come back from maternity leave early and thought that January was a sound starting point, new year new start, and as I sit here after my first full day of work with both of my babies asleep it seems like an appropriate time to reflect and look forward.

I won't lie. The reason I come to work is predominately for money, hell if I win £50.9 million pounds tonight on the lottery you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be calling first thing with my resignation whilst packing my bags and hopping into a cab to Farnborough airport to get my private jet to Necker Island like a shot, but the reality of that is so slim that I can guarantee you that you'll find me behind my desk tomorrow at 9am enjoying a cup of hot tea as I begin my day. There is massive part me that loves that desk, my job and the people with whom I spend nine hours a day four times a week with. That desk and those people are now part of who define me as a person. A working mum of two.

Should I win £50.9 million tonight I will be found here right on that beach by Friday morning cocktail in hand. 

I can't deny that I have not had moments of sadness, moments when I've looked Hector in the eye whilst he's all sleepy eyed and half here half there during his afternoon bottle where I have seriously thought "Can I do this? Can I return to work and leave all this behind?" and every time even when debated seriously in my head the answer has always been yes. They are the reason why I go to work, and they are also the reason why everyday when I walk through my office door I leave my guilt at the front door and get myself a cuppa.

Too much pressure is put on mums. Too much guilt about leaving your children with childminders, nannies, nurseries, too  much "I could not bare to watch someone else raise my children". Bollocks, excuse my French. It's 2016, not 1956 and is a matter I feel very strongly about. No one else is raising your child. If anything I feel I am nurturing my children by allowing them to mix with a wide variety of people and to realise that time apart from Daddy and I is just as good as time with us. I am very fortunate to have parents who have the boys one day a week for me and allow me to leave my house looking like a bomb has hit it and I know when we come home from work bellies will be fed, hair will have been washed, pj's are on and like a tonight a chicken has been roasted in the oven so I didn't even have to cook, they are both legends and I could not return to work without their support and help. Also, I have this time around chosen the child minder route rather than the nursery that I did last time with Charlie, this was for one reason alone, ease. Having one person look after Hector and pick Charlie up from school meant one less logistical step needed at 6pm. I am very lucky. The dream team of husband and wife team that look after my children are fantastic and I trust them implicitly which also makes things 100 x easier when kissing Hector goodbye and waving as they shut the door and I head to work.

There are some seriously incredible working mums out there and one in particular who I just love. Balls of steel, men respect her as she's totally kicked butt in a male working environment, she's got cracking hair and she's horribly stylish. Jealous? Me? Not much! She's my working mum idol, Karren Brady. She quotes on her website about "learning to juggle" ...

Incredible business woman. Working mum. Super stylish with great hair. Cow. Jealous? Not much. 

 If you have a family and a career you’ll need to learn about efficiency – and fast. You’ve got to be able to get your work done and get out of the office, but you’re competing against others whose working hours can stretch on indefinitely.

At the end of the day, frankly I just want to be at home. So, it's OK to be picky about the social invitations you accept.

As a parent with a career, you can’t be there all the time. Don’t beat yourself up. Listen to your children; they will let you know if they need more of you. Accept that you can’t do everything, and ultimately, you’ll be make the right decisions at the right time about where you need to focus. Most important, it’ll make sure you never waste a second of the time you DO have.

I no longer feel guilty. I no longer feel the pangs that I felt when I first went back to work because I know that all I work for is them. I don't do baby groups. I am not a baby group type of person. First time around yes, second not a chance. I spent most of my first maternity leave with Charlie dashing from sensory class to music class to signing class to foot painting class, trust me if there was an age appropriate baby class I did it, and now second time around I have learnt to cherish days at home with Hector and if anything it'll be these days that I miss the most, but it's also those days that I have at home with them both that I will cherish the most. 

Weird isn't it? I used to hate bath time. Worst time of the day. At the peak of the witching hour. Meltdowns are likely, over tired children running naked and vying for your attention. Now being back at work I love bathtime. I love the madness and it's that time that gets me from 9am - 6pm. Going to work is actually enabling me to be a better parent. To be the parent that I want to be. To cherish the times that we have together. To not wish away the hours till bedtime but instead I now long for more hours with them and it's because of that as well as many other reasons why I love working.

So, if you're coming to the end of your maternity leave, or your just about to go back to work and you're dreading it, it's inevitable that the first week will be hell, vile in fact, but trust me there is no greater feeling then when you see your baby or little person smiling and beaming back at you at the end of a day at work, that is the best feeling. After all, absence does make the heart grow fonder.


Nathalie x

P.S Since writing this piece I have found out that I didn't win £50.9 million and can be found tomorrow morning at 9am back at my desk.

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