The hardest part of being a working mum is juggling everything, something that my latest guest blogger admits to struggling with after a year’s maternity leave…
Please Introduce yourself…
Hello, I’m Angela and I’m originally from the North, but have been a resident of Hertfordshire for the last 11 years. I’m married to Sam and we have a daughter, Little H who is 2.
When I’m not working or mum-ing, I spend a lot of time on blogging activities for my site Life, Motherhood and Everything which is a fantastic way for me to share my thoughts and experiences. Or, a lot of the time, just get something off my chest!
I love to garden from Spring to Autumn. I also enjoy cooking, baking, exercising, read etc (the usual stuff) which I try and squeeze in when I can!
What line of work are you in?
I work in retail IT as a Solutions Architect. I design solutions to business problems which have a major IT component. I determine what types of systems can be used, how they integrate together and where manual human processes are needed; it’s a role that requires me to work with a lot of specialists from different areas of IT and the business. I love working in a role which lets me problem solve and working with a wide range of people!
What hours do you work?
I work 24 hours per week over 3 days. I have a 2.5 hour round-trip commute so I leave our house to get a train just before 7am. That way I can leave work to collect Little H from nursery by 5:30pm. Her Dad drops her off in the morning.
Who looks after your daughter while you work?
She’s at a private nursery. I looked at several different settings both before Little H was born and when she was about 5 months old. It’s tough picking somewhere to leave your child, but I got a good vibe from the place she goes to. We’ve been really fortunate as she enjoys it there and is always happy to go in the mornings.
Are you in the same job as before you had your daughter?
I am in the same position but supporting a different area of the business. However, that is what I expected would happen. I work as part of the centralised Architecture team but we are seconded out to different projects so we move to wherever the work is.
My employers were really great about my return to work. The company is very supportive of flexible working patterns so they were happy to approve my reduced hours. I was then given a portfolio of work which fitted more naturally with my availability hours. Although I still come across plenty of people who struggle is adapting to a team member who isn’t 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. As a country, I think we’re really stuck in our old ways.
How quickly did you return to work?
I went back 2 weeks before Little H’s first birthday. I had been off work for a total of 13 months by that point. My Mat Leave started straight after my Christmas holidays so it meant I was lucky enough to finish work a few weeks earlier than I would have at another time of year! It was strange being off that long though after 10 years of continual working.
Did you want to return to work?
Yes, I always planned to go back but on reduced hours. I did have a ‘wobble’ in November before I went back in January. I think approaching Little H’s nursery settle sessions had me doubting my choice. But deep down I knew it was the right thing, or that we at least had to try!
What are the hardest things about being a working mum?
As I’m writing this, my husband has his left hand in plaster after breaking it cycling and Little H is 2 days into a stomach bug. The last 36 hours are a proper example of one of the hard moments from my point of view; juggling all of my family’s needs whilst also having to manage work commitments/guilt of taking unplanned leave is difficult. But this sort of stuff happens so all you can do is roll with it and get through it. I’m fortunate that my boss has young children so is living the same challenges.
What are your favourite things about being a working mum?
Several things I suppose. I love that I have 3 days a week to keep my hard-earned skills alive and also to spend time with a great group of colleagues. But going to work makes me really value my days at home with Little H and our family weekends.
Oh and paid sick leave. When we were all struck down by Norovirus over the summer, Little H was allowed to go back to nursery as Sam and I were recovering. We had a day at home without her where we just flopped on the sofa feeling self-pity. It felt like a real luxury; you don’t get to do that when your full-time job is caring for your children.
What are your least favourite things about being a working mum?
Juggling two sets of priorities. Ultimately my family comes first and if Little H is ill then either Sam or I will take the time off to be with her. But whenever that happens I have a lingering feeling of guilt and anxiety about not being at work. Since I am part-time anyway, I worry people will judge me / find me less reliable because I’m there even fewer days.
It’s also pretty rubbish having to take annual leave only to spend it cleaning up vomit. But I guess it balances out with my sick leave benefit.
Do you have any tips for mums thinking about returning to work after maternity leave?
Gosh, that’s a tough one. I suppose the first one would be to give you and your child time to adjust to new childcare arrangements. If possible, it’s really worth sending your child along a week or so ahead of time; that way they’ll have adjusted to the change before you have to deal with the return to work.
The second tip is to give it time. You won’t be settled back at work and into your new routine overnight. It took me time to physically adjust (I was knackered for the first 3 weeks!) and then emotionally get used to being away from Little H and in a demanding corporate environment. In reality, I didn’t feel settled until I’d been back 3 months and it wasn’t until 6 months that I felt confident in my abilities again!
Great advice Angela – I’m still knackered 5 years in!
If you’d like to find out more about Angela you can check out her blog here.