23 Apr 2014

Let's talk about returning to work...

So it's almost been nine months. Other teachers said to me that it would go quickly, but at the time the year rolled out in front of me like a dream. A whole year of fun. Morning snuggles with my little man whilst the rest of the world trudges to work. Fun shopping and lunch dates with other mummy's. Netflix and scrapbooking marathons before he could protest too much and was content laying under his baby gym. Walks in the park. Walks round town. Walks to the supermarket. You get the impression. There was a lot of walking.

But after that six month mark the dramatic drop in my salary became more and more difficult. Super scrimping from with still two weeks to go till pay day led to some creative meals. More lentil curry anyone? Then of course we started house hunting as a two bed flat with a patio is not ideal for a bubba. As anyone who has ever bought a house knows this is an expensive business. So the savings that were going to supplement our in income from months 9-12 (when in teaching you get nothing) were now needed for deposit, solicitors fees etc. So I had some decisions to make.

Do I go back after nine months?
Do I go back before or after the Easter holidays?
Do I go back full time or part time?

Not going back to work at all was never really an option. I wonder if I was married to a doctor or a lawyer and had the option would I return to work still? A lot of my friends are stay at home mums and they love it. I have really enjoyed my maternity leave and have plenty of hobbies and friends so that I never got bored. But I do enjoy my job. At least I love teaching. I love the banter with the kids. I love helping them to achieve their targets and dreams. I also enjoy the interaction with other adults. Oh and cake Fridays. Except Friday will now be my day off - fail! 

So we decided I would go back part time on three days and then there was the issue of childcare. I can justify three days in my minds as I still have two whole days at home with my baby and then the weekend as a family.
  Its so difficult to know when was the right time to go back. I went with working one day before the Easter holidays (cheeky huh?!) and so Monday will be my first 'proper' day. The Belgian still had one paternity day left and so he stayed home with The Baby and so it didn't really seem too bad.

Do we go with a nursery or child minder? It seems that most of my friends have free childcare with family members and clearly this is ideal, but as I have mentioned before we are very far from both of our families. Day care across the channel isn't really a sensible option is it?

So we visited some nurseries. 

What I liked about nurseries:
  • lots of variety
  • activities are targetted to the babies ages and the early years education they provide prepares them for school
  • good equipment
  • professional and good hours
  • hot meals included
  • good feedback
  • lots of messy play and sensory activities
What I didn't like so much:
  • being confined to the baby room
  • only small and limited outdoor play areas
  • very young nursery nurses who do not have children of their own
  • less personal
  • you have to pay for one day a week in the holidays
  • limited hours - you pay for the whole day even though we'd be able to pick him up at four
  • not many trips for babies
Whereas with childminders:

I liked:
  • more variety as they can go on errands and play dates with the babies
  • more personal
  • most are mother's themselves
  • more flexible on hours
  • can offer term time only contracts
  •  will be able to socialise with a mix of other children
  • more loving and individual care
I didn't like:
  • the feeling of leaving your child with a relative stranger.
  • some child minders can look after lots of older children and perhaps not cater as much for babies as a nursery would
  • not as many children for The Baby to interact with 

So after visiting a few nurseries and making some enquiries about childminders we decided to go with a childminder in the village where we work. She is the mum of one of the student's I taught and so I felt like I knew her already. Plus her son is a 'nice lad' (as they say in these parts) and so I felt like she was a good choice. She loves the outdoors and has a really impressive garden with great facilities, she does lots of messy and sensory play with them and takes them on lots of walks and play dates.

Seems too good to be true right?

Well he's had a few settling in sessions and the first one was going well until he fell and banged his head and then he obviously wanted a mummy cuddle. He refused his milk and his nap and was quite distressed when I arrived. He was then really needy all day which is quite unlike him. The other two he fell asleep in the car on the way there and so woke disorientated and although he seemed to be okay he'd clearly been crying.

I know he will be fine as he isn't shy or clingy and loves the other little lads she minds, but I know Monday morning will be hard. It is the end of a really perfect nine months. The end of an 'era.' Now I will be pulled this way and that and my mind will be filled with data, target grades and success criteria that I will not be able to dedicate as much time to the little lad. 

I am also wondering how division of labour will go in our house. I have somehow ended up doing the lion's share when we used to be fairly equal about things like cooking and cleaning. I keep nagging mentioning that things will have to change and I won't be able to do everything around here anymore. But you know men? They never listen...

Have you had similar concerns or struggles with going back to work?


  1. Oh Mel, you sound like you are going through the same emotions and journey as I, or at least very similar! Im not going to lie, it really is not easy from any angle! The bedding in process can be difficult and heart wrenching, especially when you know they have been upset but look at it this way; getting him used to the time away from you now will mean he will be so well adjusted to being around others by the time he does start school further down the line. Nursery said that we were able to call to check on her but I never did because I felt that wouldn't be helpful for me and would probably just mean im distracted whilst at work. I too felt like my maternity leave was cut short, but i had literally no choice in terms of finances (who said you should marry for love?!) and I always try and reframe my thoughts around the negative sides of this process; e.g. I look forward to her face of excitement and greeting when I pick her up, I get to hear amazing stories and see the positive impact she is having on other children and adults (making me feel so proud!), laying down foundations for her future, really making the most of our days off together etc etc! Don't get me wrong, if I could afford to I would definitely work less, but for now I just have to grit my teeth and get on with it- if nothing else we're teaching our children resilience right?! Oh yes, also on the topic of equal chore input etc, this is a massive issue in our household, two people working full time plus a long haired cat and baby=having to do the bare minimum and make do! Pre baby I used to really love cleaning (*cough* loser) and it actually really bugs me to see the flat in the state it is, but I just HAD to learn to live with it because it's just not worth it. In the end, the way we resolved the stress of it; was to subconsciously work out (based on what each of us was regularly moaning about!) which chores bothered us the most (ie. meant the most to each of us), which chores HAD to be done the most regularly (e.g. washing, washing up, etc) and which could be done less regularly/in a quicker fashion/quick fix! Once we worked this out, we realised although we would prefer to hoover every____ unfortunately we would have to learn to live with doing it only ___. Of course every now and then each of us still gets irritated but at the end of the day, time is precious and you have to make the most of it! Wishing you lots of luck xxx

  2. It's a really hard one. I have friends who are teachers and they have said one of their reasons for returning was that the longer you leave it, the harder it is to get back to where you were. As the child of teachers I can reassure you that we always felt like we had the best of both worlds, with parents at home during school holidays

    Best of luck!

  3. For some reason I didnt reall think about the childminder route and booked a nursery for when I go back. I'm doing 3 days a week too and am also worrying about how to get all the stuff done that I can umm and ahh about and stretch out over the whole week.
    Good Luck xx
    Lauren | Belle du Brighton x

  4. My first two had childminders. I prefer it that they were treated as part of the family and carired out normal things like popping to the shops, stopping by the park. I took a five year career break after the third....then i really did not want to go back. I went back part-time after my first though and have stayed part-time...I mean we have to have time for coffee mornings, lunches and scrapping x x good luck hope it goes well for you x x About the division of things...start as you mean to go on lol!! Mine is very good!


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