Sunday, 21 September 2014

So my Plan B is....return to Plan A

As a Stay At Home Mum for the last three years my days have pretty much looked like this: get up upon hearing screaming children, shuffle down to the kids’ rooms and begin the morning routine. Breakfast, nappies, toilets, change clothes, play Lego, do dishes, do washing, make beds, put away washing and whatever other chore is on the list for the day.
Get around to getting dressed about 9am (yes we are only at 9am) and if the stars align (i.e. the kids aren’t killing each other) have a shower, don my Mum “uniform” (jeans, long sleeve t-shirt and Skechers) and pull my hair back in a ponytail. If I am feeling particularly adventurous a little tinted moisturiser and lip gloss may be applied before leaving the house for our daily activity. Our trips beyond the cocoon of our four walls, whether it be shopping, the park, the library, playgroup or swimming lessons would be the focus of the day and I would announce to Miss M upon waking, “It’s swimming day!”, or “It’s day care day!”, the whole day was built around that day’s corresponding ‘event’. The days could still be long but the weeks and months flew by and although there were days where you just didn’t think you would make it through there was rarely a sense of dread in carrying out my job as a SAHM. Of course you don’t realise how good you’ve got it…
This is my usual morning view
Yes, after over a year of deliberating and debating (you can read about that here and here) I conceded defeat and have returned to work (albeit part time). It has nearly been three years since I set foot in my office and to say the weeks leading up to it were torture is an understatement.
The day reared its ugly head all too soon and last Monday our morning routine looked more like this: wake up to an alarm at 5.50am (after a very sleepless night worrying about the kids going to day care, missing the train, not getting into my building and not knowing anyone),  had a shower in peace (yes that was a novelty), re-straightened my hair (having spent half an hour on Sunday night straightening it for the first time in 6 months), applied makeup, put on my new suit, jewellery and shoes with heels, packed my new handbag (without a nappy, drink bottle or wipe in sight) and snuck out the front door hoping not to wake the rest of the house.
I made it to the train on time and sat amongst other business/work/student types pretending that I was not actually an imposter, wanting to announce to everyone that I had once been one of them too. I like to look around at fellow passengers whilst on the train and guess their ‘story’. I wondered whether anyone was doing the same for me: Freshly straightened hair, new handbag, nice coat but not expensive, heeled boots that were in fashion about 3 years ago, looks tired and a little nervous, too old to be a starting out = A Mum returning to work’. 
This was my view last week
Meanwhile back at home Husband has woken up the kids (which never happens in our house) dressed them in the clothes I had laid out the night before, wrestled them into shoes and jackets, collected their pre-packed day care bags and set off for the dreaded day care drop off. Both kids as predicted cried and refused to let go of husband, he pried the kids off his legs and set off for work.
Half an hour later we met up for a coffee, which we both drank in one sitting, without interruption and without any stains on us at its conclusion. It seemed weird that we were in the adult world, together, at the beginning of a work day and neither of us were looking after the kids. It felt wrong but I will admit, delightfully so!
I successfully made it into the office and made the most of being able to go to the toilet without a little one at my legs (and with my nervous stomach that was quite often!) I caught up with a friend for lunch and even managed to fake some adult conversations with my colleagues without mentioning my toddlers’ current obsession with The Gruffalo or their refusal to eat vegetables. So this is what it’s like to be out in the real world? It seemed so civilised!

People asked the obligatory questions, “How old are your kids?”, “Are you glad to be back?”, “You must have noticed a lot of changes around here”, to which I answered, “3 and nearly 2…ha ha yes they keep me busy”, “No, not really”, and “No, not really”. Things had changed I suppose but not so dramatically that I thought I couldn’t cope, (I suppose ‘coping skills’ is a muscle that gets a good workout as a Mum). Yes I did have some awkward conversations with colleagues where my adult brain refused to work and I could hear my ‘little man’ telling me to just “Stop talking and walk away!”, but all in all I survived. I can't say I'm happy to be back, but it wasn't as bad as I had imagined. And I do have to say I was just a little proud of myself for sucking it up and getting it done.
Have you recently returned to work? How did you find the transition? Were you dreading it, or secretly looking forward to it? I’d love to hear about it!


  1. Oh Nicole - I'm currently 18mths as a sahm & I never want to go back!! Currently going over my options at the moment! I am a chartered accountant by trade but not sure this is still what I want to do

    1. It's so hard isn't it Jess? I am still hope that my alternate Plan B is still possible but in the meantime trying not to let it get to be too much! Enjoy your time, keep me updated on your Plan B!


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