The following is a guest post in the “Mothers return to work” series. Please welcome Lauren as she shares a little insight into her first week back at work. This post is longer than usual, but when do we ever get to be a fly on the wall of someone’s day to day life like this. I wanted a warts and all view of how she handles everything from getting to work in the morning to handling housework and the lack of perfect sleep.
My name’s Lauren. I don’t blog but I’m a journalist for a regional newspaper on the Mid North Coast of NSW. I have a hubby and two gorgeous little boys, aged three (J) and one (N). I have just returned to work (four days a week) after 12 months off and let’s just say I’ve found it a HUGE adjustment. Things are still not ideal (but really are they ever?) and I’m muddling through as best I can.
Here’s how I managed my first week:
My plan is to get as organised as possible so I don’t spend tomorrow morning scrambling around and freaking out.
I polish my new boots, cook a roast dinner (a decent meal plus leftovers for lunch for J), and pack the boys’ backpacks and lunchboxes (grouping the cold stuff in the fridge ready to chuck in during the morning rush), get clothes out for myself and the boys – anything so I don’t have to think too much.
Get to bed around 10pm.
Alarm goes off at 6am – I’m tired before I start. Wake at 11.50pm for a trip to the loo, then N wakes at 1.10am, I don’t want to go in but I end up doing so 15minutes later when he stirs again and give him his dummy. Doesn’t work and at 1.30am I send hubby in to put an extra layer on him and we all get back to sleep.
6.10am – I shower and put my make-up on now. I realise I’ve taken too long – oops – and hubby is a running late.
I eat breakfast, feed N his cereal, help J finish off, clean them both up, let them play while I keep eating (it takes me 30minutes to eat breakfast!). Hubby changes J’s poo and then they brush their teeth together. N hits his head on a table (crap!) but doesn’t seem too fazed by it.
7.35am – Wave off hubby. We make it a bit of a ritual in this house. There are hugs, kisses, waving and a teary mummy (teary mummy is not the norm ).
N returns to playing happily so give J a puzzle to occupy himself while I brush my teeth and comb my hair (the extent of my styling, shock horror).
Change N’s nappy and notice it’s 7.55am – time to get cracking!
I finish getting dressed, run around for a few little things and when take the boys out to the car while juggling bags (probably not the best idea).
Give myself a Mother of the Year nomination when I hit N’s head on the corner of the car door (the T between the eyes), as I was trying to put the bags in. Car was parked (not by me!) too close to our garden so the door wasn’t open as far as I like.
Now I’m cranky and incredibly stressed out.
I drop them off to family day care and when I get to a T intersection I freak out again as the condensation on the passenger window means I can’t see the oncoming traffic. Lean over and roll down the window and miss a break in the traffic (there’s roadwork’s going on up the road and there’s a long line of traffic).
Totally losing my cool now!
My work day is busy and I enjoy being back with my colleagues.
During the day I realise I’ve left a few important things behind (a spoon for my yoghurt – not happy about using the communal ones) and my contact book (need to get that back ASAP).
I don’t have enough snacks and I’m not happy about moving my body less – my back is getting sore.
I need to duck over to the supermarket during lunch to pick up some food we need.
Knock off 5pm, home by 5.20 – and absolutely adore the welcome I get from my boys, even before I’ve walked in the door!
Hubby cooks dinner (yes I know, he’s awesome); I play with the boys and get their PJs and clothes for tomorrow ready.
Do the dinner, shower, bed thing. N doesn’t settle at all so take one layer of clothes off before he goes to sleep.
Watch The Voice but during the ad breaks wash dishes, sterilize dummies, pack lunches for boys, pack snacks for me (no lunch, will have to buy tomorrow).
Hubby is working on reports for work so can’t help this week.
Realise I need yoghurt for N and J and grapes – bugger, I could have got them at the supermarket. Hubby offers to buy them tomorrow.
Dishwasher should have run tonight but didn’t. Put note on it to remind hubby to do so when he gets home.
3.50am – N wakes. Go in and put his sleeping bag on him. Rock him for 30mins, put him in bed, he talks for 30 more mins before going back to sleep.
6.11am – Hubby gives me a nudge – must’ve hit snooze in my sleep!
Up and shower. J is up at 6.50am with a poo, which we change.
We have to wake N up at 7.30am. Feed him breakfast and dress him, while J plays.
I finish getting dressed before racing out the door.
Leave the living room in a shambles – I’m rushing so no tidying today!
Get to work, things moved much more smoothly this morning and I’m more relaxed. Yay!
N sleeping that late wasn’t helpful though – why can’t he do that on the weekend?
Going to have to find a better alternative for lunch (for when I don’t have leftovers). I bought a sandwich for $6.20 and could have bought all the ingredients to make 10 bloody sandwiches for that price! I will have to plan it for the shopping list.
I get home and hubby hasn’t put the dishwasher on – note still there! He has started dinner though (he’s a regular cook in this house).
Notice a red mark on N’s cheek from a fall he had today but he’s okay. Head out to the clothes airers to bring in clothes for the boys tomorrow.
Leave everything else out there – can’t be bothered tonight.
Go through dinner, bath, and bed routine (after months of showers J decides he wants to bath again).
Sit down to watch The Block. I know I should get up and do stuff but I’m so tired I can’t bring myself to until it’s almost over.
Wash dishes, prepare food, get grumpy and turn on the dishwasher.
10pm – getting ready for bed when disaster strikes. The dishwasher craps itself and we have steaming hot water spread over our timber floors.
It’s a comedy routine as hubby and I dry the floor and slowly manoeuvre the dishwasher outside to the verandah (still full of crockery and cutlery because we fear if we open the door water will come gushing out). We dry the floor as much as we can and notice there’s white cloudy, water damage, patch underneath where the dishwasher was. We go to bed at 11pm
Woken at 5.50am by N, who won’t go back to sleep as much as I try. Man, I’m tired!
Hubby takes over with N at 6.10 so I can shower.
We go through the same basic morning routine and are doing well until we’re out at the car at 8.05am with the door open and J turns to me and says ‘I’ve done a poo’.
OMG – I asked him SO many times before we left. I know I have to change it and be late to work – not happy.
March us all back inside, put N in his cot and he screams his head off while I change J’s nappy as quickly as I can (the change table is next to the cot).
I have run out of patience as we get back to the car. It’s sprinkling with rain now and it seems to take J forever to get in the car.
Get to work about 10minutes late and tell everyone what happened. The day goes quickly and I get home about 5.20pm.
N takes ages to settle, doesn’t get to sleep till 8.20pm. Watch Offspring and wash up in the ad breaks.
At 10pm I prepare lunches and do the shopping list.
Wake at 6am, snooze for a bit then shower. N misses out on his morning feed today but doesn’t seem bothered by it.
The morning runs smoothly, I drop them off and N doesn’t seem as upset as I leave.
Finish at 3pm today and race to the supermarket to buy the weekly groceries.
Get to the checkout line at 4pm, it’s quite long and I’m grateful when a sales assistant opens another checkout and offers me the first spot.
Once home – about 4.15pm – I take the groceries and mail in.
Start unpacking at 4.20 and give myself a challenge to beat the clock and get the groceries away before picking up the boys (which has to happen before 5pm).
I race through and get everything away in 15 minutes. I had deliberately bought cuts of meat that I didn’t have to separate before putting in the freezer, so it made it faster.
I didn’t get around to cutting up the celery and know I need to do it ASAP or it just won’t get eaten (FYI – I never did and we had to throw it out).
4.45pm – duck around to pick up the boys.
Boys and I arrive home and N is clingy.
I cook stir-fry (it’s the first time I’ve cooked this week) and eat at 6pm.
The boys’ bath then go to bed, N not settling well at all and takes some time, and some attention from hubby once I get too frustrated.
Wash dishes, dry most and leave some to air.
Make cups of tea and put stray clothes in the dirty clothes basket, which is now bulging at the sides. I’d wanted to do a load a night…will have to work on that.
Look at boys’ clothes sitting on the bed waiting to be folded. I know it needs to be done, and that I have to sort the dirty washing.
But I really just want to rest…and so I do, but feel guilty for ages knowing that I’ll have to do it sometime.
I get stressed around 10pm when I remember we’re going to a 3rd birthday party tomorrow morning (one of the kids in our mum’s group). I rummage around and am pleased to find a birthday card.
Write on the card and go to bed.
Get up at the usual time and have a shower.
Even though I’m not going to work we both keep the morning routine going (we did it through my maternity leave too).
The birthday party is at 10am. I manage to get N down for a short sleep at 9am and he has 40minutes before we head off.
The party is good fun. It’s my mum’s group and it’s my non-negotiable social get-together of the week.
We met when our firstborns were only months (even weeks) old and the core group is really tight.
When we get home from the party I don’t do a huge amount of housework and try and spend as much time with the boys as I can.
After hubby gets home we decide neither of us is up for cooking so we order pizza.
I don’t end up doing the washing up either tonight, which means more work for Saturday, but I’m not worried about that.
We’re going to a retirement party on Sunday so I know a lot has to be done on Saturday. I manage a couple of loads of washing (one load is left and sits there for another week), do the dishes and potter around the house.
Depending on the kids we don’t hurry to get up in the morning and other than N’s naptimes (which we can be flexible with), we tend to just hang out together and either go downtown if we have to, or do things around home.
We did plan to go to the local criterium track for a walk on Saturday but the weather was no good.
I also start planning for N’s first birthday party the following weekend.
As a whole, the weekend for me is to make sure I spend quality time with my kids and get organised so the weekdays are not so stressful.
It’s been a few weeks now and things are still going along pretty similarly. I have trouble fitting everything in and always seem to be on the go. Some Sunday night’s I can be up till 11pm folding, ironing, washing up, getting things organised. It doesn’t help that my house is a shambles and all I see everywhere I go is things to do.
Every day I aim to do better, but I’m doing the best I can and overall things aren’t too bad.
Find your simple,
Return to work series:
Getting started - with Allison Tait (and giveaway of Career Mums book which ends July 19)
While on leave - career breaks
On Flexibility - temp jobs, flexible hours etc