For the last few months I have been settling into my new normal as a mum who also works outside the home. This role is one that I’ve given a lot of thought to over the last year or more and I’m pleased to say its gone very well so far.
I was very lucky to have 14 months off work altogether. I work in the public service here in Canberra and I know I’m very lucky to work in such a supportive, family friendly environment. My time off was a combination of employer provided maternity leave, the government funded paid parental leave and annual leave that I had saved up.
This meant that baby B didn’t have to start childcare until he was over a year old. His transition into daycare was very smooth. We send him to a beautiful centre not far from where we live and I’m so glad I worked so hard to stay in touch with the centre from early pregnancy through his first year to secure him a place there. It makes the transition to work so much easier if you feel comfortable about where you are leaving your child for the day.
Sleep was my other major concern. B still almost never falls asleep in the cot for us at home and I rock or boob him to sleep. I was trying desperately to get past this stage before he started daycare as I wasn’t sure what they’d be willing to do at the centre to get him to sleep. I needn’t have worried though because the educators at our centre are magicians and my little traitor self-settles for them on one of those little blue toddler stretchers. One day a week he is with Grandma who he doesn’t settle for but we are working on it.
B is also still breastfed regularly each day (and all night) so I need to keep up my supply for my days off work. I use a Spectra S2 double pump and it’s amazing. I bought it when I was still pregnant and it’s one of my top investments. I tried a manual pump as an experiment and the volume I got was so tiny in comparison and it took ages to get. I much prefer the electric one. At the moment mine lives in my desk draw at work as that’s really the only place that I use it anyway.
My employer is breastfeeding friendly and provides a lockable and comfortable room for me to breastfeed in. I spend about 15 minutes pumping once each day around 2pm and find that I get enough to give B 2 feeds for the following day.
I chose to go back 4 days a week. Initially I intended to return to work full time however, as B got bigger I realised how much I really value our time together and although I’m very career oriented as well, B will only be a baby once and I wanted to have that extra day with him rather than him being in childcare 4 days a week. Economically it was justifiable and so the decision was made. As far as work is concerned its pretty close to full-time and so far I don’t feel like it has been any disadvantage at all. My immediate supervisor and my manager are both part-time as well and so I feel very comfortable with my arrangement.
I do think that family and friends were a little concerned I was taking on too much with 4 days work and part-time study but at the moment this is really what works for me. I think that the most important thing is to do what works for you and for your family. For some that may mean working full time, for other staying at home full time. Whatever the choice – it is yours.
B has lots of fun at daycare and I’m really happy he’s able to spend a day each week bonding with his Grandparents. I’m sure eventually those memories will become some of his most cherished. I am usually exhausted by the end of the weekend and my Monday at home with B but I’m so glad I have that extra time with him. To be honest I go all out on Mondays. I do as much housework as I possibly can and then give myself plenty of slack for the rest of the week.
The Husband drops B off in the mornings and I do the pick up and make dinner. Basically for 3 nights a week we eat really simple meals like defrosted spag bol or meat and 3 veg and then Fridays are without a doubt takeaway night. I really miss making yummy dinners but we’ve evolved this far and I imagine it will only get easier and one day I’ll be back to cooking more interesting meals (hopefully with a glass of wine on occasion).
It’s nice to have reached some semblance of balance. That balance does include being constantly busy and sometimes it feels like it rests on a knife edge and if one thing falls to the wayside, disaster will strike but thats never really the case. I’ve learnt to let go of little things and am working on trying to be kind to myself.