During the seventeen years I have been legally old enough to play - I have never bought a lottery ticket. I have never regretted this more than the night before my return to work when the panic set in, after all ‘you have to be in it to win it’. When I first began my maternity leave, work was quickly put to the back of my mind as I was busy getting everything ready for my new addition. The closer it got to January my baby brain quickly remembered that money doesn’t grow on trees and I quite enjoy being able to eat, so... hi ho it’s off to work I go!
Just before turning into pigs in blankets at Christmas we discussed our childcare options and what was best for all of us. Our main concern with childminders and nurseries was the cost. The average cost of a part time nursery place in Scotland is around £400 a month and it’s predicted these costs are going to rise. No calculator was needed to know that this extra cost with my reduced part time pay would make things tighter than Harry Styles’ jeans.
We finally decided that we would opt to do opposite shifts from each other at work resulting in no childcare being required. Although we are lucky to have keen Grandparents who are happy to help, we felt that if we can manage with these shifts then we shall leave them in peace. Believing this was being considerate, this plan was met with slight disappointment of them having less Joel time. We’ve promised each set of Grandparents that they will still be delivered their fair share of Joel cuddles and we’re no longer our families’ black sheep.
Once the rota had been completed, I focused on spending as much time as possible with Joel before the big day arrived. I started panicking the week before about not remembering anything about my job. Some days I can’t even remember when I last washed my hair, how was I going to cope remembering my role? Also what if I start singing Baby Shark whilst speaking to a customer as I type? I literally felt like I was starting a new job and I soon found myself turning to chocolate and retail therapy. After buying myself a new wardrobe for work I felt this boosted my confidence and the comfort of some Galaxy in the evening helped take the edge off so I started listing the positives about my return to the workplace.
Some of my new friends from my Movers baby group were also starting back on the same day and we all sent supportive messages which was a great help. Sharing our stories of emotional goodbyes on the front door and tears at the nursery drop off, reminded myself that I’m not alone and it’s perfectly normal to feel this worry. My friend Kerrie who like myself is a first time Mum, told me of her own anxiety about her own return as “after all it had just been us” and she didn’t feel “ready to pass her over”. Luckily due to the brilliant nursery staff who deal with parents’ concerns daily they were very understanding and they’ve both happily now got into their own routine.
After preparing myself for a brave goodbye I surprisingly ended up crying less than I did at Titanic and Joel was more interested in his Elmo cuddly toy.
When the first day reared it’s ugly head, I kept myself busy slapping on my war paint as I roared away to the Greatest Showman playlist. I will always be eternally grateful to Hugh Jackman’s bearded lady for distracting myself on that difficult morning. After preparing myself for a brave goodbye I surprisingly ended up crying less than I did at Titanic and Joel was more interested in his Elmo cuddly toy. I felt slightly disheartened as I’m the one who underwent serious abdominal surgery to give birth to him but mind you that fluffy red monster is pretty adorable, so I quickly stopped cursing Sesame Street. As the cold January wind hit my quivering bottom lip, I started my two minute familiar trek up to work - ready to find out what this working Mum life was all about.
Due to the amount of time I was off I was required to be re-trained. Knowing I would have a week of training to help ease me back in helped with my nerves. Despite having completed a couple of “keeping in touch” days in October, I still had anxious butterflies as I took my first steps back in the building. Luckily, there were other people starting back too, so I wasn’t the only clueless person that Monday morning in the training room.
By the middle of the day after asking endless insane questions (including how the new vending machines worked), our very patient trainer announced it was our well-deserved lunch time. Feeling that calling home may hinder my emotional progress, I sent a quick “everything okay?” message and had a catch up with friends over lunch. Catching up on the office gossip within minutes made me feel as if I had never been away, yet my wee boy’s happy face kept popping up in my head.
To help me through the rest of the training week I quickly requested the ban to be lifted on the no photos rule. Seeing pictures of Joel swimming with Daddy and out for long walks really made a difference that first week. I was keen not to disrupt Joel’s routine of getting out and about for fresh air which my husband agreed to continue. Interestingly by the end of this week an exhausted Daddy admitted he finally understood why I would be so tired at the end of a week!
I used my weekend off after my training to catch up with Joel’s dribbling tales and the both of us went to visit his Granny and Papa. I also used this time to reflect on the previous week, and prepare myself for the following week where I would be back on the job. The training week had made such a difference to my overall mood, especially when I beat the men with the football question in our daily quiz!
I strangely missed the challenge of trying to stop Joel from hugging the kitchen bin like drunken long-lost uni friends.
For this second week I was officially back on the office floor which gave me the opportunity to chat with familiar faces and meet some new ones. It was also nice getting back to normal and being able to make an effort with my appearance instead of the usual hoodie and jeggings. Being able to wear my hair down was an actual treat as none of my colleagues want to grab it with sick covered hands (or maybe they’re just leaving that until the office Christmas party). The adult conversation and using my few cherished brain cells has been a refreshing change, but I will always prefer home time. I strangely missed the challenge of trying to stop Joel from hugging the kitchen bin like drunken long-lost uni friends.
Now that I’m a few weeks in and the hundred odd emails are deleted, the house is still standing - despite the overdue housework - and I’ve managed to get into a routine.
I’m a poor Dolly Parton working 9-3pm pouring myself a more enthusiastic cup of ambition, as I stumble to the kitchen each morning for my bran flakes and a cuppy. As much as I had dreaded the return to work due to the doubt in my abilities and missing my wee boy, I’m feeling very proud of myself for surviving the first few weeks and having not single-handledly run the company to the ground. Most importantly I have a happy and contented child to spend my days off with, which I know - in his unaware way - he’s grateful for. Opening the door to a cheery Joel stroking his toy like a James Bond villain as if to say “so Mummy we meet again”, confirms my return to work is worth it.
Saddle up partners! Scottish musical theatre group Funbox bring their latest spectacular - The Wild West Show - to Perth Concert Hall.
August 12th Monday 2019
Starting nursery can be daunting for children, and for parents. Alice tells us how she and James got on when he hit this major milestone last year.
August 7th Wednesday 2019
Diane McLeish is a Perthshire based humanist who specialises in naming days for babies, toddlers and children.
July 25th Thursday 2019