Thursday, 2 August 2018

Back to work Back to reality

So today's blog is about returning to work. I've been asked so many questions but these three really struck a chord with me; "how did you do it?" "how did you manage?" "How did you go back to work so early? "

Well, the answer is, I really don't know! In the moment it was tiring, exhausting and at times very stressful. But I kept working and over time it got a little easier, just a little lol. For me, the key was to find my own routine and set realistic expectations which is what kept me going.
Once I was able to get into a new routine I felt such a relief. For those of you who don't know, I returned back to work when my son turned 6 months old. Was this too early for me? Yes it was but due to my circumstances as well as being a single mother it was necessary. I was very lucky as my son's Nan volunteered to look after him whilst I was at work.

I do believe this helped, having Jerry's Nan look after him made the transition a bit less intense and reduced my anxiety whilst at work. I mean he was with someone he's used too, comfortable with and most importantly someone I trust. It saved me a fortune as you all already know childcare is expensive. In fact ridiculous! That being said there are so many benefits of sending your child to nursery. I'm not against it, at the time it just wasn't practical. My sons due to start nursery in October so stay tuned and keep a look out for my blog about how that goes.

Back when Jerry was six months I remember he was still being weaned on to solids. I had literally just got used to his little routine, but that was all about to change. I hate change which is one thing I'm still learning to cope with, as I find it quite hard to adapt to new situations, environments or circumstances.

For me the first thing I did was be honest with my manager. I believe I had been back for about a week and a half and I had a supervision due. In that meeting I just broke down because at this point I was exhausted. The funny thing was I had only been back for a week and a bit but it felt like a whole month lool. I started at 7 am and had to be up at 5 am most days (I was doing shift work). In the mornings between getting up and dropping him off, I would need to get my self ready as well as the usual; give my son breakfast, milk, get him dressed, pack his baby bag and drop him off.

Some days Jerry refused to eat, refused to let me dress him, refused his milk and refused to wake up. Absolute chaos right! On top of that, I didn't drive so with the clocks ticking I would drop him and then rush to work on the trains, most times I was 5-10 mins late mainly because of delays. I was living a nightmare. I find that being late to work is the worst start I could possibly have to my day, as the next 30 minutes I would spend trying to catch up.

On top of all the above, I had to deal with feeling anxious and guilty for leaving him. Some mornings my son was just so tired due to sleepless nights because of things like teething. I would still have to get him ready and drop him off. It was hard, I constantly felt like what I was doing was all wrong, but deep down I knew that in order to create the life I wanted for him, I had to sacrifice and this was one of them.

So in my meeting I was honest, I explained how I was feeling and how I actually wasn't coping. My manager was the best, she was very supportive and understanding. She reassured me and said i'm doing an excellent job and actually asked me this question  "How can the company help me?" (If your reading this, Thank you so much for your support I appreciate it). I was surprised as I didn't really know how the company could possible help me but she explained to me how they could help.

Below I will share how my company helped and also my six 'shortcuts' of what I did to make life easier and save me time in the mornings. Please keep in mind that not every company has the same policies, but I thought I would mention everything as it's still worth asking anyways.
Well if you're going back to work soon why not try them out and get into the routine from now :).

Set a meeting with your manager/supervisor.
  • One thing my manager mentioned was a starting a flexible working contract, this allowed me to work set days and times instead of shift work, as children need routine. Routines are so important for babies and children. Without routines I have seen how it can affect all aspects of their lives for example; their behaviour, their diet, sleeping habits and even energy levels.
Finding your balance
  • On my first week back I felt like I barely got to see and spend time with my son. I was working during the week and every other weekend. I did not have a balance between work life and home life, by the time we got home: had some dinner, a bath and milk, we would have just about enough time for a bedtime story. I ended up reducing my hours because I needed a balance.
Getting organised 
  • My aunt who has 2 kids gave me this tip, it was and still is my biggest 'short cut' tip. My aunt told me that she gets hers and her kids clothes ready a week ahead. I began to get mine and my sons clothes ready a week ahead. So I dedicated every Sunday morning to Organising our clothes . This, believe it or not saved me a whole 30 minutes every morning, but if a week is too much try doing it the night before. It helps because I am very indecisive and have to try on at least five outfits before I find the right one. This tip took a lot of the pressure of my morning rush. 
  • Another tip for all those that are like me and hate ironing. I avoid this where possible, most my friends and colleagues were shocked when I told them I don't iron my everyday/work clothes. They actually told me my clothes never looks crinkled or anything 'yeaa me haha!'.
  • What I do to avoid ironing is when I wash my clothes I air dry them, and once they're dry I hang everything up instead of folding. (This include my; vest, tops, jumper,dresses, jeans, joggers, leggings, trousers, shorts, skirts and all Jerry's clothes including baby grows and vests). If I do iron its literally just for our church clothes  because he has a lot of shirts that often need a run over. 
Meal preps 
  • Coming home from a long day at work I really wasn't in the mood for cooking and so this was also done on Sunday's. I would cook two different meals but big portions. I then divided the meals out into containers for me and my son. Once the food cools down I place half of each meal into the fridge and the other half in the freezer. Over time I started using freezer bags for space. This not only saved me time but also money as I actually used all the ingredients I bought and I cut down on takeaways, so essentially we were both eating healthily. We still had fresh salads and fruits throughout the week. 
  • On a really busy weekend or let say I was working that weekend, I would bring out my rice cooker or slow cooker for meats. I loved these because once the food has finished cooking it turns it self off. This allows me to do this before I go to sleep that night or work in the morning. When we come home foods ready.
  • Writing lists has become my best friend lol. I purchased a weekly menu planner that has a shopping list section and I added to it throughout the week. I prefer to do weekly shopping trips because I waste less food and I essentially buy less as I only pick up the ingredients I need to make my meals for the week. 
Making time
  • I began spending time with my son on my days off and at the weekends instead of doing chores and cooking, this I did whilst he was taking his naps. I started taking him swimming often and music classes, story time in the library or to my local children centres. We would have so much fun together. What I realised was it is easy to feel tired and have a lazy day in, but if I stayed home all day I noticed we wouldn't make the most of our day together. I would get distracted and maybe start doing other chores or watching TV. Spending quality time together just helped me to  not feel as guilty when I would leave to go to work.
Give yourself a pat on the back
  • Don't forget to just say to your self well done. I try to make a habit of saying "good job Brit" at the end of every week. Yes it's cheesy but being and thinking positively is a great motto to follow and live by. Being a mum is hard but at the same time it is one of my best achievements I have achieved. Looking back I am so happy I returned to work because my son has built a incredible bond with his dad's side of the family, which he probably wouldn't have done without this presented opportunity. In addition we can now both do things we love such as; swimming lessons and joining a football club and as he gets older I am sure this list will grow.
 Thank you for reading this blog. If you are a mummy remember you are a phenomenal woman and keep up your hard work, it will all be worth it.
" Being a mother is discovering strengths you didn't know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed " Sherene Simon



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