I have just completed my first week back as a working parent since having my youngest daughter. This is my second return to the world of work. I was back in the office for a year between my two maternity’s. I wrote a post just before going back about my reasons for returning to work.

As we enter a new year there seems to me that there has been a growing debate about working parents and children attending day nursery. This is on the back of the Royal Princess starting her nursery journey and a case of a child being lost whilst attending a nursery in the UK (article here).

In my opinion is seems strange that there is still a debate to be had. Each family will have their own priorities, pressures, opportunities and considerations for work and the family. There is never one option that fits all. Some families it makes more financial and emotional sense for a parent to stay at home. For others it makes so much more sense for one/two parents to work either full or part-time.

We should all be able to respect that all parents make the right choice for their family. In light of this I have written two poems one for the stay at home parent and one for a working parent.

Stay at Home Parent

Endless cuddles,
Trips to the park,
Looking after the kids,
From light till dark.

Home with the children,
There are so many games to play,
Painting, sticking, reading.
Having fun throughout the day.

But the work is all-consuming,
You never gets a break.
So keep up your energy levels,
You have to stay awake.

Peace for maybe an hour,
When the baby has a sleep,
But that hour goes by quickly,
And the toys are still in a heap.

Unpaid and overworked,
You have the hardest job of all,
But also lucky and so privileged,
To look children whilst they’re small.

Working Parent

Mornings are a rush,
As everyone needs to get ready,
It’s nine o’clock in the morning,
And your exhausted already.

Work is exciting but stressful,
It’s full of highs and lows.
Sometimes you will love it,
Everyday you have to see how to goes.

Using your skills,
Challenging your mind.
Can help build your confidence,
And give you some balance you find.

You of course miss the kids,
But maybe not the mess.
The whingeing and the whining,
Work is a chance to compress.

If a home is filled with love,
And happiness is apparent.
Be proud of yourself,
For being a working parent.

Working parent, juggling home, time with the children and work

Me and Rose when I went back to work after first maternity

Thanks for reading my post. If you enjoyed these please see some of my other poems here:

Toddler obsessions
Tired mum needs a break
Daddy’s home

Today my youngest daughter started nursery for the first time at eleven months old. It was the day that I started the letting go process. Since she was born a year ago she has been fully my responsibility. Today, she has to learn to be without me and I have to learn to share my little girl with the world. The reason she is starting nursery so young is I am returning to work after my second maternity. As a family we had lengthy discussions about how me working would fit our family life and the reasons for returning to work. With two pre-school children our childcare costs are excessive so this decision did not come lightly.

My main reasons for returning to work are:

  • Getting back me – being a mum is everything I have wanted in life, but I do feel like I’m losing some of me being at home. Having returned to work once before between babies I know that work can be a break! This inspired my mum needs a break poem.
  • Financial reasons – you can’t get away from the fact that life is expensive and working helps us our family manage overall finances now and in the future. As a family we have ambitions for our home and life and money will definitely help us get there.
  • Nursery opportunities – my eldest daughter has been at nursery for two years now and I have seen the wonderful things a good nursery can teach children. Having the patience and energy to complete projects and tasks with small children takes great skill. After having my toddler at home more the last year I truly appreciate the work nursery staff do everyday.

Even though I have multiple reasons for going back to work, it doesn’t make the transition process any easier. Walking away after dropping her in today broke my heart a little bit. Having gone through this before, I know it gets easier but it needs time. At the moment she is refusing to eat there, so this is my main concern, but I’ve read that the change in environments can make this happen.

As a parent I think you are predisposed to worry and feel guilt about every decision we make. I just need to remind myself that we are making the best decision based on our circumstances.

If your thinking about going back The Guardian wrote this article offering advice on going back to work after children.

We are taught to believe that pregnancy is a magical time in our life. Hollywood films showcase pregnancy with women glowing, wandering round in high heels, with perfect hair and makeup. These images put added pressure on women to have the ideal pregnancy. But for me pregnancy sucks. I will explain why I didn’t enjoy pregnancy.

Why I didn’t enjoy pregnancy

I suffered a multitude of symptoms during both my pregnancies. These all took away a lot of the joy that pregnancy does bring to many.

Morning Sickness

With both of my pregnancies I suffered severe ‘morning sickness’ for the first 16 weeks. The first 12 weeks were the worst, as it was too early for me to tell everyone but it was hard to hide when you need to throw up once an hour. After 12 weeks the sickness softened to a nausea, which continued for a further four weeks.

Travelling on the tube to work was a nightmare as your trapped inside for long periods at a time. None of the traditional remedies such as ginger tea or sea-sick bands worked for me, so I was very happy when these symptoms eventually passed. If your interested in trying the sickness bands for yourself they can be found here Sea-Band Mama Acupressure Wristband (this is an affiliates link).

Feeling Uncomfortable

As you get bigger you generally start to feel more uncomfortable. Sleeping with a bowling ball in front of you becomes tricky. I used a pregnancy pillow to help me feel more comfortable, like this one on Amazon Orthopaedic V-Shaped Pillow Nursing Pregnancy Back Support Pillow (this is an affiliates link). A pillow like this can used in pregnancy and then during feeding sessions with the new baby.

An important note about sleeping during pregnancy is that Tommy’s (the pregnancy/baby charity) launched a campaign in Nov 2017 called #sleeponside. The campaign is trying to drive awareness of the benefits of sleeping on your side in pregnancy to reduce the chance of a stillbirth.

I also suffered from leg cramps, sometimes known as a Charley horse. These results extremely uncomfortable as your whole calf muscle in your leg seizes up and shooting pain travels up your body. Parents.com recommend standing with each feet on the ground to stretch the muscle and relieve some pain.

Maternity Clothing

Buying maternity clothing on the UK high street is not easy, there are still limited shops where they sell a maternity range. Online there are a few shops that offer a better choice, but there are improvements that could be made.

Tension headaches

Towards the end of pregnancy I would occasionally suffer with tension headaches. I tried to avoid painkillers so the best thing I could use to help was 4head Headache & Migraine Relief Stick – 3.6g (this is an affiliates link). 4head is a cooling stick that you rub on your head to ease the headache.

The midwives looking after me weren’t concerned with my headaches as my blood pressure stayed normal. If you do suffer with them whilst pregnant do make sure you also mention them to your midwife as it can be a symptom of Pre-eclampsia.

Exhaustion

During my first and third trimesters I suffered from extreme exhaustion. I love sleep anyway and could quite happily sleep 9 hours a night (if I wasn’t awaken continuously). However during pregnancy some days my body would want 10+ hours.

During my first pregnancy I would just sleep after work and rest was easier. During my second pregnancy this was trickier as I had a 1-year-old to contend with. Often my husband would take over looking after the toddler so I could sneak in 30 minutes when coming home from work.

Weight gain

After morning sickness diminished I started out feel hungry. I craved everything and anything that is bad for you. So inevitably I had weight gain in both my pregnancies.

I was able to control myself slightly better second time round. But even now 10 months on from birth I still find myself needing to lose weight.

Needing the bathroom

As your baby grows so does the pressure on your bladder. Having to pee continuously is ok in the day (if your near a bathroom) but ends up being a major problem when it starts disrupting your already broken sleep.

Night sweats

Towards the end of both of my pregnancies I would suffer extreme night sweats. Going to sleep and waking up drenched meant several changes each night. This is a hidden symptom of pregnancy you don’t hear a lot about before it happens.

What I did love about pregnancy

Baby kicks

Now this is magic, feeling those wonderful small little kicks and movements. I started to feel movements around 18 weeks with both of mine. Those kicks helped build connection with the baby, as they helped build a realisation my baby was well and truly on the way to join the world.

Scans

Seeing my precious daughters on the monitor was one for the most magical experiences of my life. Looking at their tiny bodies and hearing the heart beating, really brought home for me the miracle of the human body and pregnancy.

For me both of my experiences with pregnancy were challenging at times, but overall a blessing. I am thankful ever day when I look at my daughters, for what my body achieved. I’m just sure that twice was blessing enough for me!

Self care for mums is a post I wrote about mums taking ownership of their own mental and physical health. This is particularly importantly during pregnancy, so if you suffer from any of these symptoms ensure you raise it with your health care professionals.

Please note that this article includes affiliate links.

 

Rhyming with Wine

We are now in December so I’m thinking about returning to work after maternity leave. This is my second maternity leave, after returning in between my babies for a year.

I feel very lucky too have been able to spend the first eleven months of my baby’s life completely devoted to her. Now the practicalities of life kick in and back to work I must go.

Having experienced returning to work once before I know that it will be a rollercoaster. Some days everything runs well and goes to plan. Then other days everything seems to go wrong and s*** hits the fan! I’m just hoping for more days of the former, rather than the later.

Based on my experience these are my top tips for returning to work.

Returning to work after maternity leave tips

  • Plan ahead your daily routine – including what time you need to drop kids off and pick up
    • Do a trial run before you start to check your timings if unsure
  • Talk to your child in a positive way about their new childcare – even babies will be able to pick up the sentiment in your voice and tone
  • Prepare everyone’s things the night before – getting a baby/toddler changed is hard at the best of times, so best to have clothes and bags prepared
  • Try and keep drop offs quick – a long goodbye doesn’t help you or your child
  • Dont be afraid be contact your childcare – just ring or text in the day to check on them if feeling anxious
  • Keep busy – don’t punish yourself if you realise you haven’t thought about your child for ten minutes

 

Go easy on yourself, it’s a massive change for the whole family. There is a lot going on with the new schedule, new relationships and work dynamics. It may get harder before it get’s easier, so take each day as it comes.

If your feel lack of confidence when you are back, talk to your HR department, as they may have services to help you. It’s important to have self-care during this time of change, so do talk about any issues you’re facing.

Also, if you need any help on the financial side of returning to work, contact the Money Advice Service who have lots of information.

Good luck.
I know I’ll need it when the time comes.

There are lots of things I didn’t think I would do as a parent which inevitably now I do. Before having children I’ll admit I didn’t realise how hard parenthood really is. You only really ever see a snapshot of a parents daily life. There is so much that happens when no one else is watching.

You never know how much sleep the parent had the night before. Whether they had to endure a massive temper tantrum just getting shoes on. Or if they haven’t even had a chance to grab a coffee that morning.

Things I didn’t think I would do as a parent

Let them watch TV

Watching TV face

Before kids I assumed that I would greatly limit the amount of TV my children watch. I had vaguely heard of the channel CBeebies but hadn’t yet appreciated how important it would become in my life.

CBeebies has been a life saver at times. Especially this year during the early days of bringing a baby home, to a house with a toddler. TV became the only way to pacify my toddler so I was able to spend thirty minutes with the baby.

I do try to limit the amount my children watch, but in these winter month’s it’s not always easy. You’ve been up since six, fed them, taken them out, fed them again, put them down for a nap, done an activity at home….tv becomes a very helpful friend to occupy them for an hr or so while you get jobs done.

After all my efforts I probably haven’t succeeded in limiting TV as much as I hoped As at ten months old my baby’s first word was Peppa Pig!

 

Eat anything apart from healthy snacks

With my first-born I was very strict on only feeding healthy snacks. Until her first birthday she had never tasted any chocolate, crisps or biscuits. Snacks included vegetable sticks, rice cakes and fruit.

Move on two years and my ten month old has already pinched crisps from plates, had buttons shoved in her mouth from sister and devoured a biscuit on first sight.

It becomes an impossible task to keep a second child away from ‘treats’ if their siblings are exposed to them. Unhealthy snacks are everywhere and always attract young eyes.

During the Christmas season its harder than ever. To counter balance the treats I try to feed them healthy balanced meals. In the hope that they understand that treats, are treats, and balance is best.

Listen to children’s music all the time

My daughters love listening to children’s music. Everything from nursery rhymes for the baby to pop songs sung by Justin Fletcher (aka Mr Tumble).

Whilst pregnant with my first born, I remember saying to my own mother ‘I won’t be spending all my time listening to children’s music’. She likes to remind me of this, when we have had ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’ on repeat for thirty minutes.

Parenthood is full of choices and decisions, some big and small. Now I am a parent I try not to judge anyone’s individual choices for their family. We all go down different paths and as long as the child is safe, cared for and happy, there are no rights and wrongs.

 

Is there anything you didn’t think you would do as a parent?
It would be great to get your comments, so please share below.