Taking stock: my new life as a working mum

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This Thursday just gone, I will have been back at work 11 weeks. Friends and family ask me how it’s going, and I usually find myself shrugging at them and saying “it’s fine.”

It is.

And actually, I recognise that I’m very lucky. I’ve been fortunate to be able to go back part time to my old role as an editor. Ralphie spends two days a week at nursery and another day with my dad, and he seems to be loving it. Which means that two days a week we have mummy-baby time. We play around the house together, we head out for walks, we go to baby groups and we meet up with friends.

Weekends with Ryan at home pass us by in a flash. And then we’re doing it all over again. Back to the routine. Is this really it?

But rather than complain, I have started to try and do something about it. Just under a month ago I launched a new little venture I’ve been working on. It’s something I feel very passionate about – and I have to really because to fit it in between life, being a mum and everything else, I tend to work on it late into the evenings.

It’s called Small Baby and I got the idea for it from doing this blog. Basically, it’s an online magazine that shows off some of the best small businesses creating cool stuff for children. Some would say it’s a bit of an indulgence. And I suppose it is. I’m not even going to deny that my insta feed is a glorified wish list! But it has a greater purpose too. I want to give a voice to the brave people (who usually happen to be mums) who have taken the gamble and decided to set up their own business so they can be around for their children and provide for their family. To them, every purchase, every customer shows them that they’ve done the right thing. And I want to celebrate that.

If you fancy popping over and having a read, it would mean the world. It would also provide a welcome boost to my readership figures, which I’m desperately trying to grow!

I’m frustrated I haven’t been able to post on here as regularly as before. But I’m still writing. In fact, I’m writing more than ever! Every day and every night. Hopefully, one day those words will get me where I want to be, wherever that is!

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Lost in a moment

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Life has sped up again. It’s like someone has taken a remote control, pointed it at us, and fast forwarded at 30x speed. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

It hasn’t been an easy few weeks. Managing the transition from maternity leave to work, from baby to toddler, not to mention the onslaught of bugs that has left us all snotty, bleary eyed, wheezing wrecks – it has, in all honesty, taken its toll. I don’t think any of us can quite remember what it’s like to feel well.

But we’re hanging on in there and in between the daily grind, we’re still having plenty of fun. And at least I’m not crying when I leave Ralphie anymore. The guilt lingers, but thankfully the tears have dried up!

Since Ralphie’s birthday, it has been all change again. I know I probably say it every time, but I think this is my favourite stage yet. He is so damn cheeky, and I love it. He knows exactly what I’m saying to him, and if it’s no (i.e. please don’t pull my hair or chuck your cup on the floor for the 100th time), he cocks his head to the side and gives me a little grin.

His language is coming on in leaps and bounds. He can say mama, dada, grandad, nana (much to my mum’s disappointment as she wants to be grandma), again, more, yes (he actually says “da”) and a whole load of other babble that we haven’t been able to translate yet.

Waving is his new favourite thing. He waves to get mine and his dad’s attention, he waves goodbye (usually when the person has turned their back and gone), and he waves at strangers in the street before giving them the cheesiest of grins. This boy loves attention and he knows how to get it!

Now at 13 months, it’s looking pretty unlikely that Ralphie’s going to be an early walker! But he is walking around as much as he can – he scales walls, doors, the washing machine, the sofa. It won’t be long, and I’m not rushing him. The fast breathing noises he makes as he crawls are too funny.

We use an app called Moment Garden to share photos of Ralphie with close friends and family. My photo sharing endeavour is endless, I know! One thing this app does is send a daily update with a moment from a year ago today. Ryan has turned into a broody mess as he reminisces about our tiny little squidge that used to placidly lie there and smile up at us. I miss those days too, but motherhood has taught me to appreciate the now. I was a rubbish planner before, and now I’m even worse. Because all I’m trying to do is enjoy today and remember it all. Time, you are a scary thing.

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Time for some adult conversation

 

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And so a new chapter has begun. September – the month I head back to work. The month Ralphie turns one.

A week in and I know we’re all going to be ok. But I already miss maternity leave dreadfully. I wasn’t prepared for it to be over so soon. Can we rewind the clock, please?

If you’re reading this and you happen to be on maternity leave or going on leave soon, my one word of advice is to enjoy the small things – a hot shower, afternoon cuddles, making it out of the house only half an hour late. Some days will be good, others will be great, and others you’ll want to curl up into a ball and cry. And that’s fine. If you didn’t manage to get dressed today, don’t worry.

It’s probably also worth knowing the following:

  • The washing and cleaning can wait. As long as you’re not festering, you’ll all be fine
  • Remember to go to the loo, don’t hold it in!
  • Snuggle that baby as much as you want. You won’t make him clingy in later life. Ralphie only fell asleep on us when he was tiny and now he falls asleep by himself in his cot. Those cuddles did no lasting damage. Phew!
  • Take plenty of pictures and videos, and make sure you’re in them too
  • It’s ok not to be a perfect mum, housewife, cook and partner at the same time – you can’t be all things to all people. Well, I can’t anyway
  • Sing – a good nursery rhyme fixes most things. I’m the mad lady singing ‘Pat-a-cake’ to Ralphie in his pram when we’re out and about
  •  Try not to compare yourself to other mums. By all means listen to their advice, but do what’s right for you and your baby. I’m yet to meet anyone who has taken the exact same approach on everything
  • You will sleep again, just maybe not tonight!
  • Statutory maternity pay is rubbish and if, like me, your work didn’t give you a decent package, things will feel a bit tight. You’ll learn to adapt, though. New clothes and fancy meals out can wait
  • Get creative! You won’t have loads of free time on your hands, but when that babe is asleep, you may just want to try out something new, or old. For me, it was writing and photography. I thought I wouldn’t mind a year off from writing, but I missed it. And I never expected to love taking photos as much as I do, but it’s definitely a new passion of mine.

Looking back on the last year, I have no regrets. I would like to experience it all again, though, just in case.

But, alas, it’s too late. I won’t be able to stay in my pyjamas until midday – not on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, anyway!

And most gutting of all, on those days there’ll be nobody around that gives me hugs and kisses on demand.

So it’s back to adult conversation and hot drinks. The thing is, I don’t even mind cold coffee anymore.

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Off to nursery we go

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This isn’t a post I’ve been looking forward to writing. After months of denial, it finally happened – I took Ralphie to his first settling in session at nursery. And do you know what…it was fine. Admittedly, I was there the whole time. Maybe I’ll be writing something entirely different next week!

The thing is, I’m pretty sure that Ralphie will take it all in his stride. He’s a sociable, happy little chap. Yes, he is a mummy’s boy, but sing him some songs, read him a book and he’s as happy as Larry (whoever he is.). It’s me I’m worried about. They mentioned bringing in some photos of us for him to look at during the day, and I welled up at the thought of it.

I deliberated over which nursery to send him to for a long long time. It took me even longer to fill in the form and register his place. And I’ve left it until as late as possible to book in his settling in sessions. I’ve always known I will be going back to work (albeit part-time), and I’m fine about the actual working bit; it’s the leaving Ralphie part I can’t get my head around.

But we’re not the first to go through this. I’ve taken great comfort hearing from friends about how they’ve got on. And I know it’s not easy, but you’re all coping. Plus, I’m sure the nursery I’ve picked is lovely. It’s not too big; it has more toys than Ralphie could possibly wish for; the other children seem sweet; and the staff took a real shining to him. He’ll be well looked after.

After almost a year of maternity leave bliss together, these next few weeks bring a lot of change. I don’t know if I’m ready for the next chapter, but it is almost here. Just whatever you do, don’t mention his birthday!

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Eight months on the outside

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Of all the monthly milestones to write about, eight months probably isn’t the most obvious. But I feel compelled to write about it, because this last month has brought about some of the greatest changes yet.

Until now, I would say that Ralphie’s development has felt fairly steady. It’s not until I look back at his newborn pictures that I realise how much he has grown. But, as I’ve said before, over these last few weeks, I’ve noticed a real change in him. My baby boy isn’t so much of a baby any more. He’s on the move (nearly), he’s eating food (albeit mush), he’s chatting more than ever, and somehow he seems much more knowing.

His latest trick is to pull himself up using the person holding him as a support. Up and down he goes, like a yo-yo. His Grandma taught him this at the weekend. Thanks mum!

Of course, he hasn’t said “mama” yet. When he does you will certainly hear about it! I’m sure he’s got it in his locker, but he’s making me work for it. At the moment, when I ask him to say it, he just beams back at me. Cheeky monkey.

With Ralphie now eight months old, it also means that I’ve had eight months off on maternity leave – 34 weeks to be exact. And that means that my maternity pay will stop soon. Cue panic mode!

The other week, I went to look at a nursery near to my work for when I do go back. It was absolutely fine. The staff seemed lovely and the facilities were good. But I’ve not committed yet. I’m just not sure. It’s a big decision. I think I’m going to go and see a couple of local childminders too.

If all goes well with work, Ralphie will be away from me for three days a week. I’m sure he will love it. Me, not so much! I know it’s going to be heart wrenching leaving him, so I want to make sure he’s in the best possible care when he’s not with me. And how can I know that from a quick nursery tour? I’ll make a decision soon. I need to, otherwise all the available places at the good ones will go. Oh the irony!

Once I sort out my new work role and Ralphie’s childcare, I’ve then got the rest of the summer off with my boy, and I’m going to cherish those days so so much. Of course, once he’s running around, I may be quite grateful of the opportunity to have a few days “off” at work. He’s already quite the handful. Goodness knows what the next month will bring.

The back to work conundrum

Ever since I got pregnant I’ve done my best to ignore the issue of what to do with my baby when maternity leave is up. I’ve basically been burying my head in the sand, and four months in since Ralphie entered the world and I’m still nowhere close to making a decision about what to do.

I’m sure like most mums, I want the best of both worlds. I love my job and would still like to work (plus the money helps!), but at the same time I don’t want to miss seeing Ralphie grow up. He’s changing on a daily basis at the moment and I don’t want any of it to pass me by. How can I leave this little face?!

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At the moment I’ve got him snuggled up asleep on my lap while I type away. I have seriously considered whether I could be at home with him and work, but 1) I can’t count on him napping when I need him to, 2) as he grows he will sleep less and need more of my attention, and 3) I can’t imagine a crying/shouting/cooing/babbling baby would be very welcome background noise on an interview or conference call, nor would it be very professional. So yeah, that plan needs some work.

The other week we played the lottery for the first time in ages in the hope we’d win that crazy rollover jackpot. We didn’t get a single number!

I popped into the office earlier this week to see everyone and kept eyeing up a decent sized bit of unused space near my desk that would turn into a great little crêche. They say that office pets are great for employee morale; well surely a baby is even better?

On a serious note, we probably do need to start checking out some local nurseries. I’m sure the good ones have ridiculously long waiting lists, and we’d be silly not to consider our options. Both my parents are a good decade or so off retirement, so as much as I’d love Ralphie to be with them, that’s not really a goer.

And that’s that. I’m kind of back to square one. This working mum business is hard! So sorry if you started reading this post in the hope I’d provide an answer. I’m afraid I don’t have one yet. But if anything comes to me as I lie awake at night plotting what to do, I’ll be the first to let you know.

 

 

Monday blues…what Monday blues?

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We slept in until 10.30am today. Sneaky I know! Admittedly we were up at 4am, then 7.30am (to say goodbye to Ryan who sadly had to go off to work) but I still consider today a lie in – and it was lovely!

Nine weeks in and I wouldn’t say I’ve got entirely used to not having to go into work, but I certainly don’t miss the Monday blues! No more Monday morning meetings – instead the biggest concern I have is making sure I’ve had some breakfast so that Ralphie has a decent feed. Today I had muesli, banana and custard. Yes, you read the last bit right – custard! It won’t make it into the list of all time top healthy breakfasts, but it was darn tasty!

If I’m being totally honest, we haven’t really done much today. Ralphie had his bath, he had a bit of tummy time on his playmat (something he is still not too keen on), we sang (a lot!), and I put on another wash load. It’s bloomin’ freezing outside, but we’ll pop out shortly to make sure Ralph gets some air. And his dad is home early so, all in all, life is pretty good. Now I’ve just got to decide what to cook for dinner.