Those of you who follow me on social media will know that I have been doing KIT (Keep In Touch) days in preparation for going back to work four days a week at the end of September. I’ve been going into work for one or two days a week, whilst R is looked after by his grandma. We will also be doing some settling in dates with our childminder, so R gets used to that as well. Some of you are probably thinking I am mad, why the bloody hell would I be going back into work well before I had to?
Well the truth is, I was shit scared. I had almost a whole year off and I could feel my brain turning mushier than an Ella’s kitchen pouch. Someone else has been doing my job for a whole year. What if I had forgotten everything? What if I was crap compared to my maternity leave cover? And not just work, how was I going to get the whole house up, fed, showered, and dressed on a morning? And then have dinner ready for 6pm when I don’t even get in till that time some days. Oh shit shit shit shit shit shit shit, what the hell was I doing?!
So these KIT days were a way of dipping my toe in the waters rather then diving in headfirst. Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance and all that. Here’s my other top tips for anyone out there who is facing the big wide world of work again!
Ok, cheating a bit as I have already mentioned these but if you have the option then I would say bloomin’ well use it. I’ve got eight planned in total, but even if you fit in a half day the week before you go back it means you can iron out any logistical kinks. You can clear your inbox of all the shite that has piled up, inevitably spend an hour on the phone to IT because something will have gone wrong with your email/phone/monitor, and meet any new members of the team. It stops that new girl on the first day of term feeling, and also you can run back home after a day and not have to face going back in straight away.
2. Firm up, and practice childcare arrangements
So maybe the thought of spending any more time in work then you have to sends shudders down your spine. But even if you don’t take KIT days I would still recommend doing a dry-run with your childcare arrangements. Be this nursery, a childminder or good old granny and granddad. Most good nurseries (and childminders) will offer settling in sessions, take advantage of these! You will feel so much happier leaving your child if you know it is in an environment that is becoming more familiar to them. Practice the route to and from your childcare location at the time of your commute – is the traffic particularly bad? Do you give yourself enough time to catch the train? There’s nothing worse then being short of time and starting your day with a whole pile of stress. One thing D and I quickly realised was that we needed a smaller stroller, one that folded easily to fit in our childminders hall throughout the day. I’m glad we planned for this in advance as it would have been a shocker to discover on the first day that our massive but amazing Graco doesn’t fit in the hallway!
3. Flexible Work Request
Now the blooming amazing Mother Pukka is the gal you need to refer to if you have any questions about this. Anna (Mother Pukka) fronts an amazing campaign called Flex Appeal, which is bringing the campaign for flexible working to employers and employees across the UK. 54,000 new mothers lose their jobs a year in Britain alone, and the main reason for this is inflexibility from their employers. This seems moronic to me, that’s a large chunk of talent removed from the workforce for what? For having a child. Flexible working hours could help reduce this number, and ensure that we have a work culture that works for everyone.
One thing I will say if you are planning to return part time, or want to amend your hours when you return to work then get your request in early. There’s a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing between yourself and HR to get out of the way so get this sorted well in advance.
4. Buy yourself some new work clothes.
‘Cos nothing is better than a fresh suit. Mine’s from the old reliable Marks and Spencers. For the past year I have been off and for the nine months before that I was ballooning at a rate of knots. I think my trousers stopped doing up at the three month mark and my blazer could no longer hold back the bosoms. I dropped the tailored suit and adopted a more relaxed style whilst pregnant. Trying to fit into my old stuff was a nicht, nicht – I mean I could but it just didn’t feel great on me. So I got a new suit, new blouses, new shoes, a fuck load of caffeine and I am good to go.
5. Hair, nails, handbag, whatever makes you feel good
Again this is a bit of a cheat, as I haven’t ticked this one off my list yet. Although I did turn up to my first day back with a lot of lipstick on.
6. Meal Planning
What did I say gang? Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. We actually jumped on the meal planning bandwagon once R started baby led weaning. It is going to be fantastically useful once returning to work though – we won’t have enough time to cook from scratch every night so by planning in advance we can see what we need to make up on a weekend, and what days we can make easier with leftovers. It also saves money as we aren’t buying ingredients that then go unused.
Not gonna lie, there will still be pizza and chicken nuggets in the freezer just in case and absolutely not to be eaten by me after a late night up working on the laptop.
7. Share out the household chores.
You totally should be doing this already with your significant other, cos gals we do not need the mental load amiright? It’s also really important for me that R grows up seeing D and I being equally involved in housework, and the wider world of work. That being said, I think during my maternity leave I have got a bit ‘possessive’ over the chores. Yes I really am that sad, but I like the cleaning to be done a certain way and that’s MY WAY. I need to work on letting it go – and part of this is going to be drawing up a chore list. So we know what needs to be done on a certain day and both work together to ensure this happens.
Am I a control freak? YES most certainly. However a clean and tidy house is a lot more conducive to me being calmer and happier overall so it is something I do try to keep on top of. I’m no Mrs Hinch though, today during a living room blast I found seven dirty baby socks alone. Apparently he has already picked up mine and D’s bad habits of abandoning them all over the house.
8. Put some coffee on.
Stop, whatever you are doing right now and put the kettle on. Cos girrrrrrlllll you are going to need all the caffeine in the world to function at 9am on a Monday morning whn you have been up four times throughout the night and your day started at 5am with a baby who has weed through his nappy and subsequently is screaming the house down.
I wish that was a joke.
I also wish I wasn’t a coffee addict (lies, all lies). Lorelai Gilmore ain’t got a patch on me.
9. Remember why you are doing it
It’s going to be stressful, it’s going to be busy, if you are working (especially if you are working full time) and are a parent then there are going to be a million plates spinning and at some point you’ll drop one. But I love my job, I love going to work, and there will be times when I’ll need to tell myself that, remind myself why I am doing it. I’m not just doing it for myself, I’m doing it to build a better life for my little family.
So when the trains have fucked up again and its pissing it down, when I have a full workload, am behind on my blogging and R is teething I’ll try and remember this. This is for my family. And that will get me through anything the old nine to five throws my way.
Hopefully there were a couple of ideas in there that were helpful, is there anything you would add to the list?