Back to work after just over 2 weeks off……………
You’ve just looked at the calendar. It’s September.
But instead of wondering where the summer has gone and worrying about how Christmas is somehow suddenly only 3 months away, your worries turn to something much bigger… It’s your youngster’s first day at school.
Every parent knows there’s something about watching your little one walk through the school gates for the very first time, that just tugs on your heartstrings.
Suddenly, after 4 or 5 years, they’re ready to venture out into the big wide world and take their first little steps of independence.
However, a child’s first day at school signifies not only a new chapter for them, but for you too.
Your life once consisted of clients, meetings, telephone calls, budgets and deadlines. But you then put your paid career job on standby to take on a much more challenging and full-time role…becoming a mother.
As time passes, returning to the workforce can be as daunting as first leaving it. Where do you start looking? Should you go full-time or part-time? How do you negotiate your work-life fitting around your family-life?
Well, whether you’ve been off the job scene for a few months or a few years, here are a few simple steps that will help to gradually ease you back into office life.
Think Carefully About What You Want
When making the decision to return back to work, it’s important to clearly set out exactly what you want, and most importantly, what can realistically be achieved for yourself and your family.
Instead of diving in head first in an attempt to mask your worries of experiencing ‘empty nest syndrome’, take time to think about some of the following questions:
- Why do you want to go back to work?
- When would you ideally like to return?
- Are you looking to go part-time or full-time?
- Are you looking to resume your career, or simply take on a job to help pay for the family’s financial dividends?
- What arrangements are in place for childcare once you return back to work?
Discussing these questions with family and friends may also help you to assess how you feel about returning to work, as well as help to discuss what appropriate steps to take next.
Get Back In Touch
If you’re looking to return back to your previous workplace, it may be a good idea to get back in contact with some of your old colleagues, in order to put you in good stead for your return.
Meet up for a coffee one day and find out about any new news, developments or changes that have occurred in the company whilst you’ve been away changing nappies!
Getting back in the loop will soon make you feel at ease and is bound to help you slot straight back into the workplace quicker.
How To Go About Finding The Right Job
If like many, motherhood has made you decide to take on a new job role completely, there are several ways you can search for a job that’s right for you.
Finding job vacancies is easy and can be done at the touch of button.
Searching by location on local jobs boards, for example ‘jobs in Northampton’, allows you to find a comprehensive list of all the available jobs within your area, which can be refined by keyword and position-type.
Applying for jobs this way can also be done at your convenience, therefore allowing your job hunt to fit around your family’s day-to-day life.
What’s more, many companies offering administrative, sales and personal assistant roles can also often be done from the comfort of your own home, allowing you to effectively split your time between both the office and the home.
This article was written by Ella Mason, an experienced careers writer. Ella specialises in providing jobs advice for stay-at-home parents.
It’s half term this week and for a change, I have taken a week off work for no other reason than to look after my girls. We haven’t gone away anywhere, we don’t have visitors staying, just a week of us all off together. So far the week has been pretty uneventful, we spent the day at Stanwick Lakes on Sunday with Mr D and his 2 children. Then on Monday the curse of the Autumn cold hit our house and me and B both felt pretty rotten, so we had a duvet day!! Tuesday and Wednesday H was in nursery, as I had taken her funded nursery place as 12 hours per week until Christmas rather than 15 hours per week of term. I had hoped to do some more grown up stuff with B, like Paint a Pot and swimming, but as we were both still a little under the weather we went shopping instead!!
I’ve sat and helped B with her homework without us falling out, I’ve set up sticker charts to try and get their behaviours a bit more on track, and I’m currently listening to Justin Fletcher’s new album “Hands Up..The Album” for about the 4th time today!! (Watch this space, the album is released on 21st November and I’ll be reviewing the week before!!) My house is a mess, small people are jumping around all over the place, I’ve read a book in 2 days and feel a little guilty for doing nothing. It’s great!!!
It’s all got me thinking though, what if…….?
I think it’s one of the hardest things about being a parent, getting the work life balance right. The choice varies for all of us, no two families are the same and so no two people’s decisions are or can be seen as the same. For me, going back to work was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. H was only 16 months old and I hadn’t looked for work nor had any thoughts of returning to work. As much as I am sure people judged me for it, I was receiving benefits that saw me through each month, I’d been thrown into a situation I had no choice over and after paying my taxes since 16 when I started my first job, I figured I was entitled to take stock of my life and be a mum until I had sorted out what path to follow.
Then it was all a bit of a whirlwind, a friend told me about some jobs coming up working with families and children in the area, she said she thought I would be ideal for it, so I applied expecting that my minimal experience would generate a “thanks but no thanks” letter. I was pretty surprised when one November morning 2 years ago a letter turned up offering an interview. I arranged for a friend to have H and travelled the 50 mile round trip for the interview and then found out just over a week later that I had got the job! There was worry, would I actually be better off, would I be able to handle the part time job on top of bringing up two girls, lots of what if’s?
It’s now 19 months on and I love my job, I love my girls, I love my life and what I have built but there’s still that “what if?” which this week has brought out. I could have had every school holiday like this, I could have been able to make every sports day, every assembly, H could have been at home more. I’d have less stress about childcare and what to do when I have to work late. But then I wouldn’t have been able to go on holiday this year both with and without the girls, I wouldn’t have a car on the road making days out very difficult. I wouldn’t have met some really inspirational women who I now work with, and I wouldn’t have developed how I have as a mum and person in my own right.
I know I’ve missed out on some things with my girls, but I am hoping that what I gain by working is worth it and out weighs the negatives. Both the girls seem happy with the arrangement and I know H loves nursery. I guess the hardest part is working with families and trying to help them put routines in place, or helping to manage behaviours and wishing I was at home with my own children reinforcing the same boundaries! I guess this is all proof I needed this week off with my girls!
How do you make sure your work life balance is right for your family? And do you ever wonder What If…..?
I have been re-evaluating my finances this week, because I have gone back to work, come off Income Support and all my other benefits, Tax Credits and the like have changed. Even Child Benefit rates changed this month! So instead of just going mad with the new healthier bank balance I have done the sensible adult thing and sat down with a list of my income and outgoings and worked out how much better off I am. I am also quite lucky in that it all ties in with my divorce too, so my outgoings have reduced due to the settlement we reached. Anyway, as was expected I am much better off being at work. Although I do owe Bank of Mum and Dad for my loan for the car and have to pay for this years holiday too before I start going crazy with the cash.
Anyway, it all got me thinking, what am I actually going to spend the extra money on? Once my debts are taken care of, what then. Yes I can better my children’s lives………..although they already have clean well fitting clothes and shoes and eat a good diet, and get out to places for days out. So we can go out to more places, further afield too now I have my own car. And I can better our home life in that I can buy new matching furniture with the storage we need, buy B her new bed and really organise her room. I can save for gadgets, my iPhone and BluRay DVD player are now within reach. I can get the Wii fixed. I can sort out my long term savings and save more for the girls.
Will all this make me happier though? I mean it’s not that I’m not happy now, but will more material things make me happier – or is it true that money is the route of all evil and the more I get the more I will want. By no means am I going to be rich, but I spent my first 10 years after leaving home in a marriage full of debt. Some months we struggled to even eat properly. Looking back now I don’t know how we kept our heads above water – not only did we have no money but the debts were growing month on month. It did get better and by the end of our time together they were no longer “bad” debts. Since being single I have been on maternity leave and then onto benefits and have been in the black every month, but literally had enough money to pay my bills and live. The difference now is I have the extra.
I think just knowing that money won’t make me happy is enough to keep me on a level, but if not and I begin to sound like it’s all gone to my head just remind me……….
Money cannot buy happiness, all the money in the world can’t buy you friends who are true, love that is real or a stress free life – be positive about all that you are and that will attract the things that hold true meaning in life!
I have two major things changing in my life right now and they are feeling like the hardest things to deal with right now. So I am opening up in the hope that my lovely readers can help me through it all!
The first is the fact that I have gone back to work after 2 years of being a stay at home single mum. It’s not the job, that’s a challenge, a lot to learn – but I have some fantastic colleagues and my boss is brilliant. It’s the changes at home that I thought I was prepared for but it turns out, I wasn’t! H has been going to nursery 1 afternoon a week for just over a year now. I started her going when I thought I had my old job to go back to after my maternity leave. When that fell through I kept her there for two reasons, firstly for the social aspect. At the time I had no real friends here and it was good for us to have a few hours break from each other and her mix with other young children. I also did it to keep her place there as I knew I would eventually return to work and after being on the waiting list and getting a place I didn’t want to lose that.
Last week I returned to work and H was in nursery for 2 1/2 days. The first day she willingly went in and toddled off without even a second glance to me. Great. It had worked. She already knew the place, the staff and the children. Day two she was a little less willing but still no tears and day 3 was the same. Then she was off for 4 days. She was full of cold for those four days, with a high temperature and just generally not herself. Monday morning came around and although I was on my day off, I took her as her routine needs establishing. She screamed the place down when I passed her over as she refused to walk in herself. She was very clingy when I collected her and it has been the same all week. Tonight she came home and wouldn’t let me go. She is eating, but not like she used to. She is still fighting off the tail end of the cold she had. She won’t eat anything but banana and raisins for breakfast – she was eating weetabix or rice crispies before and breakfast has never been a chore with her. More concerning than that is that she isn’t drinking. She used to drink on average 6 cups of various drinks throughout the day. Now I take her to nursery with a beaker of juice, she comes home and hasn’t finished it. She doesn’t have a full drink with breakfast and today had drunk nothing from 5pm to 7pm. She was screaming for juice but wouldn’t drink it. In the end good old Grandma came round and help me to get her to drink something before bed, without making it a big issue. It’s all so out of character for me and as she has never been a crying baby or toddler I have to admit it really upset me tonight. I seemed unable to give her what she wanted!
I was expecting difficulties with the change of routine but I wasn’t prepared for this! She is teething too and seems to have a sore mouth which doesn’t help. But not only that, I am conscious that with how clingy she has become, B is feeling it too that there is no time for me and her these days. On the plus there though, it is Easter holidays after tomorrow, and both weeks I have made sure I have a day off where it’s just me and B so hopefully that side of things will be better soon.
To top all this off, I am also having to say “Bon Voyage” to my very dear friend Mumtoj who is emigrating to Australia next Wednesday. I met her about a year ago, but in the last 7 months our friendship has grown to one of those you just know will stand the test of time. I have known for ages that she would be going back to Oz with her family just as soon as they sold their house and I’ll be honest and say that in the back of mind initially I didn’t want to get close because saying goodbye is just so hard. However, I am glad I didn’t listen to that little voice because our friendship is something I’m glad I will have in my heart forever. On paper we are so different, but it works. We talk about anything and everything and I am completely myself with her. Not just that but her J and my H are the best of friends even though he is 2 1/2 years older than her, they play together so well and are very close. So on Saturday we are going for our last day out. We are hopefully (weather dependent) taking all 3 kids to the seaside for the day, with fish and chips, buckets and spades and lots of laughter. I can’t wait, but at the same time, I am dreading the end of the day. I don’t want to say goodbye. I’m a jibbering wreck when I say goodbye to people. Plus I have to stay strong for the kids, H won’t understand properly, but B and J will. I’m not alone in saying goodbye though, she said her goodbyes to the rest of our group of friends today and I know they feel the same. I wish her all the luck in the world and I really hope she will find happiness with her family down under.
(I know she hates this pic but it’s the only one I have of the 2 of us!!! Sorry Mumtoj!!)
So there we go, the hardest things in the world right now for me. I love my life and I know change is good, but sometimes change can be very hard to adjust to!
I’ve been waiting for today for months. On that cold Thursday back in December I made the same 45 minute drive to the unknown. Oh I knew where I was going (my SatNav was telling me) and I knew why (I had the letter in my bag), but the unknown was what would happen when I got there, and when, if ever, anything would happen after that. My trip today though was more full of excitement than anxiety. It was full of hope for the future not just hope I could get through a few hours without messing up. It was my 1st day at work, not just the interview!
To say the last 3 months have been long is no understatement. I knew it wouldn’t be a quick start after finding out I had been offered the job due to checks and references all having to be done first, but I hadn’t been expecting 3 months waiting. Today my waiting ended. I woke early after a better nights sleep than I thought the nerves would let me get. The girls were very co-operative and there were no arguments or tantrums from either of them. We left the house on time; a first for a long time. I dropped B to school and H willingly went to nursery not even giving me a second glance and off I went.
I arrived around 10 minutes early, which had been my aim – not too early, not too late, but equally not walking in bang on 10am when I was due to start. I was thankful to see another lady getting out of her car and although the building houses many different offices and conference facilities, we said hello and confirmed we were both there for the same company. It was suddenly a nice feeling for the nerves to start to ease. Our morning was spent meeting our colleagues and bosses and talking briefly about the setting up of a completely new area. It was informal and more of a meet and greet than a day at work. Tomorrow it all starts properly when we all attend day 1 of our induction course.
I had been worried after 2 years out of work I would feel lost and out of control, but how wrong was I. From the moment I walked in it felt right. It felt like this is where my life is supposed to have taken me. Don’t get me wrong, I know the novelty will wear off, as with any job, I will reach a stage where I don’t want to get out of bed some mornings because I know I have horrible jobs to do that day. (Normally that’s when I have put off my filing for long enough and it’s reached a point I can no longer ignore!) I also know that due to the nature of my work I will have hard days that due to confidentiality I won’t be able to talk to anyone about outside of work. But today my biggest realisation is that this is right. I am now officially a Working Mum again, because that’s the right choice for me and my girls!
Spring has sprung and new life is appearing every where, I feel like Spring has sprung for me, a new season in my life and my arms are open to embrace it!
Tomorrow my life starts it’s big change. Tomorrow I collect my car!!!! I don’t really know how I have managed 16 months without one, but I have proved to myself a car is a luxury and I can live without one. However, as you all probably know, I am starting work soon and therefore a car has turned into a necessity!!
Excitement is an understatement. I have waited so long for this point. When I separated from my husband I moved the length of the country to start again near family. I had a great job – no a career – and I had hoped I could move with that but a combination of maternity leave and credit crunch that didn’t happen. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do and I think in the back of mind was that once I’d licked my wounds I might move back North. For that reason, starting work down here is a very personal and public declaration that I am here to stay, which I hope won’t be met with groans from my brilliant friends here!
Aside from what it means in me getting back on track, I am so excited about getting back to work. I honestly didn’t think I would, a few months ago when I found out I had got the job I was actually worried about every aspect. Was I really up to the job, was it right for the kids, what about arranging childcare, what about when the girls are ill……… The list was endless. Now it’s nearly here and I will have my car within 24 hours. Childcare is all set up and in place. Oh and yesterday I got my letter with details of my 2 day induction! It’s really happening! I am sure I will blog more about all this as it happens, but I just wanted to let everyone know I feel as excited as a kid the week before Christmas!!!
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