Once upon a time there was a mummy who was preparing to go back to work after a blissful few months in a bubble at home with her first born. Not knowing many people in her area of the Queendom, she trawled the land to find a not just suitable, but magical place for her baby to start the next adventure in her life.
The mummy tried the first place but it was too dark.
The mummy tried the second place but it was too far.
The mummy tried the third place and it was… just right. With happy smiling faces and caring arms to reach out for her baby.
And all was (seemingly) well.
Then mummy started work…
And it’s here I’ll end the fairy tale analogy. Not because it turned into a nightmare by any stretch, but because at the start of this Easter holiday I realised how far I and we had come in embracing the people that care for and love our children when we’re at work or can’t be with them.
I struggled with taking my first born to nursery – she was 5.5 months old. My first day at work post maternity leave was what can only be described as conflicted. My head felt like it was splitting in two. I couldn’t stop thinking about my little one. Was she drinking enough milk (I breastfed and struggled with the transition to bottles)? Would she be okay? Will I make the train home on time to collect her???
All at the same time trying to put a smiley and brave face on it at work. Catching up with colleagues. Catching up with clients. Contributing to the work place. The adrenalin and excitement of being back at work kept me going for a while. But a lengthy commute, complemented by a lack of sleep and the anxiety of not feeling as good at my job any more took its toll. A dose of pre-Christmas norovirus was the icing on the cake…
We drastically changed our routine just before our daughter turned two – deciding to ship out of the capital and head north where we could experience the work life balance my mother kept telling me about (it does exist – it just took me a very long time to allow myself to establish that…). Just when you think you’ve got enough on your plate moving your entire family and job to another city, baby number two makes an appearance. And the search for childcare started again.
Fast forward to this week and although I can recall all too well the conflict in my head during the first weeks back at work, it helped to get me and my family to where we are now.
Where my children’s childcare settings offer so much more than their Ofsted rating, the food on their plate, the outdoors time and the phonics… it’s the look on their faces and the contented play of other children in the room that will let you know that your children are being cared for.
My holiday club drop offs and pick-ups this week have been significantly less conflicted and guilt ridden than they once were – especially when I’m working during my eldest daughter’s ‘time off’ school. Had she not run to grab the leg of one of the team as she excitedly showed off her new necklaces to him and had she not been bubbly, babbly and bouncing when I collected her, it may have been a different tale.
The moral of the story is… I’ve learned to give myself a break when it comes to other people looking after the girls. It was really (really) hard at first. It’s true what they say – it’s harder for mum and dad than it is for the kids (they’re having a whale of a time).
Next stop, babysitters so the hubs and I can go on more than two date nights a year…
Image: Tatler.com; Getty Images