The Return To Work – Three Month’s In

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I made the return to work three months ago after maternity leave. It was a massive life change that I documented heavily both in blog form and in vlog form. In all honesty, I just wasn’t ready to give up those milky days at home and I knew that life was never going to be the same again.

The honeymoon period was over and I took it quite badly. Sort of an understatement. I howled like a crazy banshee every night for weeks whilst eating my bodyweight in buckets of well-known chicken as consolation.

It has been three months of our new routine now and just about enough time to take stock, reflect and provide you with an update.

So here we are – the ten realities three months in:

  1. The good news is that it actually does get easier – hurrah! Without wanting to sound smug to those of you who can think of nothing worse than going back to work, I just want to put it out there, just once – it DOES get easier. Not every day by any means but some days become easier than others and after three months I have noticed a definite shift in my ability to compartmentalise my work vs family life and enjoy a guilt free HOT cup of coffee.
  2. There is no such thing as routine. In just three months we have dealt with (in no particular order) a family bereavement, a health crisis, childcare issues, a school trip, an appearance on BBC Breakfast, Scout camp, world fucking book day, one year old vaccinations and subsequent fevers and a vomiting school child. There is no such thing as a normal day at work and there is no point in a routine. It’s all about survival people and that’s the reality.
  3. We have developed a heavy and unhealthy reliance on takeaway food that masquerades as buckets of chicken but is actually probably more like deep-fried pigeon. Despite boasting an impressive knowledge of how to organise one’s working life, I have been an inept, increasingly blubbery-bottomed mess who has returned to the Colonel more times than is normal despite the fact that his minions have an inability to remove the fucking mayonnaise. Ugh. It’s like a bad relationship that keeps me coming back for more. Sigh.
  4. Baby brain – oh yes, it’s alive and well. I find myself frequently zoning out when people are talking to me which leads to embarrassing moments in important meetings where you shout out “yes!” randomly because you think someone has spoken to you and you have no idea what they said. And when I refer to “you” I clearly just mean me. Similarly, I have found myself on numerous occasions losing track of my point / words / sanity mid-sentence. So blubbering, blubbery, inept mess is pretty much the sum of it.
  5. I have no filter. None. Everyone else appears to have suddenly become a complete moron in my maternity absence and I have no tolerance for the office politics, bullshit and preening that was once a fond part of my working day. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no ability to hide my disdain either. Call a spade a spade or it’s getting awkward quickly.
  6. Five days in the office has been replaced with three days. Whilst that’s a lovely balance (who doesn’t want more days at home than behind a desk?!) it doesn’t mean I have a part time job. It means I condense a full time job into 22 hours and that requires some serious prioritisation and streamlining of tasks. That’s probably the reason that I have lost my filter. There is no time for the bullshit.
  7. My house looks like a squat. Visitors are met with the smell of wet children and dogs and a hefty glare from me for daring to add yet another to-do item to my day. Washing is done haphazardly, use of Febreeze is at an all time high, mud is now a décor feature of my kitchen floor and my children are only ever half clean (good enough right?!) There just is no time. I cannot get to a state of cleanliness that was possible during my time at home and quite frankly some days I just cannot be arsed.
  8. If there were to be any justice, I would be stick thin. I literally never stop and come to think of it, neither does my long-suffering other half. Like ships in the night we occasionally wave at each other across the sea of dirty laundry, nappy changing or school child taxi-ing that is a constant feature of our time outside of work.
  9. I’m hanging on by a thread. Fuelled by coffee, my love of my job (because it is awesome and I get paid) and the general feeling that if I get off the hamster wheel I may never get back on again – I am on the edge of a breakdown pretty much permanently. And so are all the other parent’s I know.
  10. The half an hour of cuddles with my baby at the end of a working day, near enough breaks my cold, closed heart. The fuzziness of her warm, milky head combined with the plumpiness of her slightly too worn pyjama’d body send my ovaries into a spin. For those few minutes, I am cocooned with grief and the realisation that I’m missing her babyhood day by day whilst out at work. It’s hard to swallow.

So that’s it I think.

I had an overwhelming response to my return to work story and I was touched by how many of you crashed back into work life with me. I can honestly say it hasn’t been an easy transition and whilst my work life is slowly coming together, my home life is just about hanging on by a thread. “It will do” is pretty much my survival mantra right now, be it for a cursory sweep of the bathroom with a baby wipe or when I hastily shove someone’s packed lunches together and chivvy them out of the door.

Reading this post back to myself I realise that I opened with the gambit that it does get easier but actually as you read down the list it becomes obvious that being a working mum doesn’t get easier after all. Maybe it just get’s easier to pretend and to compartmentalise or maybe it’s too soon to tell.

I’ll let you know in another six months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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51 Comments

  1. March 2, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    You can’t possibly know how much better your back to work posts make me feel, about the balls up that I worry I’m making. Pretty much everything you write completely resonates with me and I feel like you really, really get it. I practically fistbumped myself reading the no filter and condensing hours points above! Thank you xxx
    MouseMooMeToo recently posted…#90: Let’s Talk About Flex, Baby…My Profile

    • March 2, 2017 / 7:59 pm

      I’m so glad someone else really gets it. Going through it with you lady! Keep going xx

  2. March 2, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    I can relate to all of your points. I am now 5 months back into work. I suppose the routine gets easier but I miss my baby girl more than ever. Especially as the other day I saw her stand up all by herself for the first time, and when I mentioned it to mum, she said oh she’s been doing that for a week! I was so upset that I missed one of her milestones. But a working mum I must be. Xx
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  3. March 2, 2017 / 10:34 pm

    I am absolutely dreading going back to work, even though I’ve still got a good chunk of my maternity left (honestly not trying to rub it in). I want to cry every time I think that one day I’ll have to leave my baby. Thank you for being so honest with it all as it does help to know it’s not just me feeling like this and I’m sure when my time comes I can feel a teeny bit better knowing I’m not the only person falling apart.

  4. Julia
    March 3, 2017 / 6:35 am

    You are great Mum & a great person in every way that matters. Keep faith with yourself

  5. March 3, 2017 / 11:40 am

    I can resonate with all these points and you’re right it does get easier, or you just get used to it. It’s tough being a working Mum but you are winning at it Fi. Claire x
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  6. March 4, 2017 / 8:02 am

    Three months isn’t a long time to adjust, I’m sure it’ll continue to get easier! And are you talking about mayonnaise on a Twister? Why is it on there in the first place and in such huge quantities. I always swap it for cheese – you know, to make it that little bit healthier! #fortheloveofblog

  7. March 4, 2017 / 8:08 am

    I don’t work at present, but I do attend school. I got to hand it to you as a working mum. You’re doing well, keep going at it! #fortheloveofBLOG
    Sarah – Mum & Mor recently posted…Get Out, Foreigner!My Profile

  8. March 4, 2017 / 8:27 am

    Yes, to all of this. Going back to work sucks. I’m six months in and still haven’t gotten my swagger back. Too much takeout, baby brain and trying to survive the week. Yep, yep, and yep. I hope it gets easier. Good luck! #fortheloveofBLOG

  9. March 4, 2017 / 8:29 am

    This takes me back to when we put our daughter into nursery at 10 months old when we were both working – it broke our hearts and I had the joy of dropping her off and picking her up most days. I wanted to get her as early as possible so can completely relate to the bullshit filter. Some would be happy to stay until 6.30pm plus just to chat crap. They had no kids of course and I was once one of them. It’s been much easier with me being at home second time around. We feel very lucky, though eventually the boy will have to go to nursery at some point (redundancy pay outs don’t last forever) and I know it’s going to be painful, perhaps even more so in some ways such is the length of time he’s been at home #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. March 4, 2017 / 8:31 am

    I don’t work so can only imagine what it must be like to be a working mum. You sound like you are doing everything you can to make it work though..you’re a great mum xx #fortheloveofblog
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  11. March 4, 2017 / 9:47 am

    This is such a brilliantly honest post. I’m with you on the no routine thing. No matter how well you plan or try to be organised. Something unexpected always hits and leaves you feeling feeling the midst of chaos again. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  12. March 4, 2017 / 10:40 am

    I have to go back in a month and this gives me hope #fortheloveofblog
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  13. March 4, 2017 / 10:52 am

    I went back to work after 6 months with my first, full time too. I think I’ve blanked out just how hard it was, reading your post is a scary reminder; respect is due! I was due to go back at 11 months with my second but then he got really ill. Still off work now and he’s 2.4. Sometimes life takes over and you have to do things differently. It still doesn’t mean the kids or the house are clean though. Ha.
    Andrea @Topsy Turvy Tribe recently posted…ComaresMy Profile

  14. March 4, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    I’m back to work at the end of the month, and while I’m looking forward to using my brain for something other than mumming for a few hours a day, to say I’m dreading the transition is an understatement. I mean, if I’m only sporadically washing my hair now, what the hell is going to happen next month?!?! #fortheloveofBLOG

  15. March 4, 2017 / 12:18 pm

    You’re right – it does get easier. I’ve been back at work for 9 months and it’s almost like I never left. The big difference now is that I leave right at 4pm each day so I’m not a minute late picking up my daughter from nursery. There are no late nights or taking work home, because spending time with her is more important. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  16. March 4, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    Going back to work after a baby is never easy. You will find a balance, just keep going. You are doing a great job!
    #fortheloveofBLOG
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  17. March 4, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    I had a bitch of a time returning to work after my first. After the second it was better I will admit. Now I am home with four crazies and working during the day isnt sounding all that bad 😉 Grass is forever greener on the other side right?

    #fortheloveofblog
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  18. March 4, 2017 / 3:30 pm

    It is overwhelming and it isn’t easy. You just have to keep at it and one day you realise that there is almost a routine, almost. You’ll still have days that are awful but you’ll also have some that are actually quite good. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  19. March 4, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    I thank my lucky stars every day that we have managed with my working part time. I only work mornings and so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. But I do remember how hard it is in the beginning. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you. Having said that, 3 months isn’t long really. Hopefully in another three things may have settled down a bit. #fortheloveofblog
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  20. March 4, 2017 / 6:26 pm

    You obviously do get better at coping. I hope it does get easier too. It’s so unfair that ‘flexible working’ is sold to mothers as this great favour but you end up doing same amount of work for only part of your previous salary. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  21. March 4, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    sounds like there have been some unexpected bumps that have made the transition harder. Hopefully they are behind you and some sort of balance can be found. Its all about prioritizing I’ve found. Good luck! #fortheloveofblog

  22. March 4, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    I feel bad – as I have nothing overly positive to say, other than a lovely open and honest post. You’re right it does get easier, but at the same time life overall is hectic, crazy and the mum guilt doesn’t really lift. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. You’re doing an amazing job and providing incredible opportunities for your family. You’ll get there. We will all. We have to… Sending big hugs! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  23. March 4, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    THe feeling of never stopping is the worst! I remember putting on a load of washing at 10 pm and thinking “When is it my turn to sit on the couch and relax?” Just know that you are carrying the weight of it and you will move mountains so your child doesn’t miss out – when they’re older you’ll be going to museums and activities at night so they still have all those experiences and fun with you. It’s only you who is missing out – missing out on time to have fun as an adult, missing out on relaxing, missing out on focusing on you. #FortheloveofBLog
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  24. March 4, 2017 / 9:33 pm

    It gets easier and you also learn to prioritise and block out the irrelevant noise! I’ve been back at work for 14 months and it’s all just part of the routine now. Well until someone gets sick of course… #fortheloveofBLOG
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  25. March 4, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    My eldest is 4 and, apart from maternity leave for the youngest (1), I have been working part time since my first maternity leave ended. I don’t mind having some space to be not just a parent, although I resent that I have no choice financially. What gets me is that, while it does get easier and I don’t really feel guilty (it is definitely what’s best for our family), I still miss them every damn shift. Even if they’ve been little demons in the morning sending me running out the door, by the end of my evening shift my heart is aching to see them. xx #fortheloveofblog
    Claire recently posted…Turning a negative experience into a positive day.My Profile

  26. March 4, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    I love the honesty of this. Eat as much fried chicken as you need. I returned after a year with my first son and 9 months after my 2nd. Both times were difficult and it was a shock to the system. I so relate to the baby brain at work and complete no filter tolerance for bullshit. Actually, in some ways that attitude has served me pretty well at work for the last few years! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  27. March 4, 2017 / 10:09 pm

    i am so glad im not the only one living off of take aways!! its been two months for me and I so relate to all of this! today i moaned to hubby im fed up of living in what could be described as student digs – everytime i get the house in order we have a busy weekend where it becomes a tip and I also moaned at how tired i was physically and mentally. I havent slept past 8am for, well god knows.
    thankfully my mini meltdown bagged me an extra night off and a promised lay in tomorrow – but hubby is on call which means that could get ruined. but little victories!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  28. March 5, 2017 / 12:25 am

    I think you’re doing a great job. You should be very proud. When there is a lot to be done we have to chose what’s more important. A tidy house isn’t a must have. Time for much needed baby cuddles is the priority. #fortheloveofBLOG

  29. March 5, 2017 / 9:10 am

    I’m so glad it’s not just me who cant keep my house organised, I just can’t keep on top of it! At least you get the baby cuddles when you get home, I go to work and mines asleep and then I get home and he’s asleep again I’m a week in to my return to work, I’m enjoying it to a point but I wish there was a way I didn’t have to work! This has made me hopeful that it does eventually get better! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  30. March 5, 2017 / 10:17 am

    I am lucky to have 3 part time jobs that I can fit around the family (with a bit of negotiation!) It means I don’t feel guilty when I go out to work or am working from home because I still have plenty of time for the kids (and Chris) I think it gets easier as the kids get older and become more independent #fortheloveofBLOG

  31. March 5, 2017 / 11:30 am

    It sounds to me that you are doing a great job. I remember going back to work after my first. It did take more than a few months to feel like we had a routine of sorts. Also absolutely yes, my perspective on work politics/discussions/office gossip etc changed. Before I would get involved, now I really cannot be arsed with petty politics and bickering.

    Going back to work really makes you evaluate what you consider important. You also should and will hopefully realise soon that everything you do comes from wanting to be the best mother you can. That makes you a fab mother x
    #ForTheLoveofBLOG
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  32. March 5, 2017 / 12:42 pm

    You’re doing a fab job! I definitely don’t think it gets easier…it actually got harder for me. I struggled with guilt and exhaustion for 11 years while I worked a mixture of full time and part time and when I eventually gave up my career and took an easier 18 hour a week job nearer to home I thought life would be a breeze! Nope! I took on my blog and became an Avon rep and am now busier than I was before. We do our best and that’s all we can do! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  33. March 5, 2017 / 7:21 pm

    If it’s any consolation, I read this and felt I was reading the introduction to a really great novel…It’s like the working mum’s Bridget Jones Diary, Fi Fielding (!). You are way too talented to be looking at life from the edge of a Kent*ucky fried chicken bucket, my friend. May you conquer the world. #Fortheloveofblog

  34. March 5, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    I admire working mums! I struggle as a sahm, I don’t know how you do it! xx #fortheloveofblog

  35. March 6, 2017 / 2:55 am

    It’s so hard being a working mummy! I get sad every time I have to leave for work but more so for me when I get home as I work nights so when I leave the boys are sleeping anyway but when I come home they are all ready for the day and I am off to bed 🙁
    I count down the hours to my days off and value the time we spend together so much and often find myself ready for returning to work after four days anyway, two boys I think work is a rest!
    #fortheloveofblog

  36. March 6, 2017 / 9:12 am

    I know I don’t work anymore (not my choice… Bloody childcare costs) but I did and I remember it well. It does get easier, in fact by the end I enjoyed the time away from the baby stuff, a bit of adult conversation. I’m glad I’m not the only one that lost their filter. I thought it was just me being unreasonable! How can there be so many incompetent idiots in the work place? 😉 Keep going. It won’t be forever because you seem very determined to make that the case!
    #fortheloveofBLOG
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  37. March 6, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    OMG I so remember this. Feedback from my co-workers was I was a little brusque – hell do you know what I cram into 21 hours when I am here – serious WTF and FO! And the idea that I spent the other two days watching day-time TV!!!! Sod off, the real job has started!

    Hat’s off to you girlfriend – you are rocking this!

  38. March 6, 2017 / 4:30 pm

    You are doing really well and it is really hard. My company were great but I’ve just decided that I cannot do it without damage to my health and so I’ve left! I was just driving myself insane and thought I was doing a bad job at work and a bad job at being a parent and my confidence was plummeting. Looking at reshaping life now. Fingers crossed that your balance gets easier. #fortheloveofblog

  39. March 6, 2017 / 10:05 pm

    It’s so true that it does get easier and the patience for people and office politics is NONE! I definitely found that when I went back to work. Xx #fortheloveofblog

  40. March 8, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    I’m dreading leaving my baby, but you saying that it gets easier gives me some hope! I’m just concerned that I won’t be able to cope as I can’t drink coffee! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  41. March 8, 2017 / 7:42 pm

    The hardest part of being a working mom, for me anyways, was my housework. There was never enough time or energy to get it done! #fortheloveofBLOG

  42. March 10, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    I too lost patience with mum-ties on my return. And I also found I zoned out a lot at the start. And hell yes to just condensing full time hours into a 3 day week. It was tough. I couldn’t concentrate for long spells either. It did get better, but as you know I left after 4 months. I hope things ease for you soon xx #FortheloveofBLOG
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  43. March 12, 2017 / 11:14 pm

    Glad it’s getting easier, it really does get better especially when you get into the routine. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  44. April 1, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    Whether it’s been six weeks or six months, most of us have to begin the process of preparing to return to work at some point after our baby is born. Some of us may be eager to return to work to escape the endless demands of a newborn or perhaps you are simply bored and in dire need of some adult conversation. Some of us may be just the opposite, dreading the day as it looms ahead of you, knowing how much your heart will ache from being away from your baby. We have to accept that we won’t be able to do it all – at least not for the first few weeks and be realistic about what we think we can accomplish. Eventually we will adjust to the change of pace, and we will develop a schedule that works for us. However in the first few weeks, we should not expect to be a Supermom. That will come later!

    Cheers then.
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  45. May 31, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    This is a great point of view. I am dreading going back to work next year. I have 2 jobs that I love and three kids….oh and I’m a student. I still have no idea how I will do it but I know I have no choice!

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