time flies when you're being a mum

Time for Mum tagged with 'back to work'

if you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to even find time to have a wash, there’s always something more pressing. Here I’m hoping to encourage myself and you to put yourself first a bit more!


Guest blog from Beth at Betty and the Bumps

20 Feb, 2014

returning to work after maternity leave

Are you returning to work after maternity leave soon? You might be wondering if your brain has actually turned to mush or if it is really possible to leave your baby…My process of returning to work was a much slower, vocational path so I didn’t get the sudden, shit-it’s-happening-next-week feeling that many of my friends had to go through. Thankfully Beth has just been through the ‘transition’ and has kindly written this guest post for us about what it is actually like returning to work after maternity leave to hopefully dispel some myths and put your poor brain and nerves at ease…

Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Hi!

I’m Beth, new mam to Gwenn and blogger at Betty and the Bumps, and I recently been returning to work after maternity leave…ten months off in total. A little while ago I contacted Hannah with an idea to share with you all some things I had learned about how to manage when the maternity bubble bursts and going back to earn a living becomes a reality, rather than some vague concept so far in the future that it might as well be imaginary!

I hope you enjoy reading and have a giggle at my expense (I don’t mind, honest!!)

Love Beth

xx

The first day isn’t necessarily the worst: As my first day back got closer and closer, I was almost excited about it; in fact my best friend – who is still on maternity leave – was excited for me because, as we all know, there can be nothing more monotonous than looking after a baby every day and going to work is a break from the norm if nothing else. I was also really lucky that on my first three days back at work, Andrew used up leave to look after Gwenn. This meant that I wasn’t having to think about the logistics of childcare during what could have been a very emotional week. Of course, the bad thing about this arrangement was that it was almost like a practice run, so that my fourth day was actually my first “proper” day as a working mum. I’ve also learnt that on the first day there is an element of novelty. After a couple of weeks this has well and truly worn off (for me anyway!) and there’s nothing quite as depressing as the realisation that this is you, until you win the lottery or go off on maternity leave again.

Being the new girl is no fun: Without sounding like a megalomaniac, the day I left work I was the person who knew everything. On the day I returned, I was the girl who knew nothing. It doesn’t matter how long you have worked somewhere, or what position you hold; if you take enough time off then on your first day back it’s like being Simon Cowell’s tea boy. The lack of control I felt made me feel tearful at times and I dreaded being asked a question that I couldn’t answer for fear of looking like a fool. But, it isn’t all bad because after a while …

It will feel as if you never left: This is the ultimate cliché, but seriously, after three hours on day one, I felt as if I had only left the previous week. There are always coming and goings personnel wise, but the main team at work has not changed and the bricks and mortar are the same so I felt that I slotted back in very smoothly.

It pays to be organised: I am a weirdly organised person anyway, so this has been right up my street, but it is really important to use the night before the work day to get as much done as possible. At the start of the week I hang up all of Gwenn’s outfits for the week, so that I can grab the whole thing in the morning and get her dressed really quickly. I also know what I am going to wear for every shift and I make sure that everything I need is clean and ironed (when I lived at home I was always shoving tights in the tumble dryer 20 minutes before I was supposed to be leaving the house!). The changing bag is fully stocked the night before and usually when me and Andrew are making tea, I sort out Gwenn’s food for the following day so I’m not running around in the morning looking for a clean spoon or whatever!

Working part time really can be the worst of both worlds: A week before I went back to work, I was in a cafe with Gwenn and the owner said to me that going back to work for only three days and getting the rest of the week with the baby was the best of both worlds. I have to say that, so far, I’m not sure I agree. Working part-time means that you can only ever earn a certain percentage of what working full-time brings in so there are always going to have to be financial sacrifices that affect you and your family. We are hardly struggling, but I’m very conscious that we can’t really put anything away for savings, and holidays are totally out of the question. I also feel like I am not completely committed to Gwenn, because I always have to consider that I have work coming up in the week and there are things I need to do in order to prepare for that. The knowledge that I have to go to work at any point in the week casts a shadow on everything I do. When at work, there is always a risk because I am not there that often, that I am not taken as seriously as before and on my first day I did feel as if I was being left out and that I’d slipped quite far down the pecking order. Ultimately, I don’t fall into either camp. I’m not a stay-at-home mum, but neither can I say I’m a full-on working mum and I don’t fully understand the stresses and sacrifices involved for either.

It is no longer okay to be fat: I have already posted about putting loads of weight on when I was pregnant and so far I’ve hardly lost any of my baby weight. When I am out and about with Gwenn my attitude is “Well, anybody who sees me will think, ‘She’s just had a baby, fair enough'” but, now that I’m at work and without my little companion, I feel like I have zero excuse and, in a phrase coined by my wonderful best friend during a back to work conversation, I’m “just a fat mess in retail”. It doesn’t seem to make any difference how long I spend getting ready (snatches here and there around getting Gwenn fed, dressed, entertained) I still always look in the mirror and think “Bleurgh”. Weight gain, tiredness and total lack of me time are not conducive to looking one’s best! I’m sure (or maybe I hope) that to other people I don’t look that different but now the maternity leave bubble has been well and truly burst, I feel very vulnerable about my appearance and it definitely has affected my confidence at work.

It really isn’t as bad as you think: As with many things, the anticipation of the event is often worse than the event itself; for the first few days I sat on the Metro dreading work, but once I was there it really wasn’t all that bad. If you managed to get through your day before you had a baby, there’s no reason you can’t after; the job hasn’t changed, it’s just your attitude. And after a while, you never know, you might even – dare I say – enjoy it ….?

Thank you, Beth!! If you like what you’ve read, you can read her full article, Everything you Always Wanted To Know About Work But Were Afraid To Ask, over on Beth’s blog!

Are you returning to work after maternity leave soon? Or have you just gone back? Can you relate to Beth’s experience?! Tell us all about it in the Comments below…

I’m linking this post up to #AllAboutYou…while it’s not strictly about me, it’s something that all us mum’s have to go through in some shape or another and it’s a great piece by Beth!
Mother.Wife.Me
19 Nov, 2013

If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?

This is today’s NaBloPoMo question from Vonnie over at Nowt Special.

I have NEVER known the answer to this question and to this day I still don’t, despite getting a first class degree in Civil Engineering, which I did because I’m good at maths. I think it is because I want to be my own boss and therefore can’t see myself in a conventional job.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to work though, if I close my eyes and imagine myself being happy and fulfilled, I am definitely really good at something, busy with it and respected for doing it. I just don’t know what it is!

I’m in the fortunate position of not needing to bring in an income. But this doesn’t always do me well. I miss that interaction of working with other people, feeling appreciated, generally having something to do that taxes my brain. But I can’t think of a single job I want to do.

So I blog – my main aim for my blog is to make it good. Something I built up from the ground and I can say is successful. So I think blogging is my itonly to be really successful I need to spend a lot more time on it! Evenings…when all I want to do is be in bed by 9! Who am I trying to kid, I was in bed by 9 last night.

The thing I like about blogging is, firstly, being able to write. I didn’t know I liked writing until I started a blog. Now I love coming up with ideas and within a few hours I can have something fairly presentable on my site. Some of it’s good, some of it’s not so good! But it’s fun all the same.

The second thing I really like about blogging is the tinkering you need to do behind the scenes. The things you need to do to slowly increase your traffic; SEO, social media, key words, building up a community, writing cornerstone content, anchor texts, etc.

I like tinkering around with all that stuff and reading about it but I am terrible at monitoring and I’m not especially good at doing the outreach, the promotion of my posts with real people to take my blog to the next level.

Which has reminded me that back in January, with all the vigour a New Year brings, I wrote down what I wanted to achieve with my blog. What success would look like. That’s what all the motivational books say to do otherwise when will you know you’ve achieved your goals?! So for the purpose of this post, I have dug it out.

I thought big and it’s embarrassing, but you can read it if you promise not to laugh. Deal?

 

be anything

There’s arrows everywhere but basically what I did was start with what I would really like to achieve (and bare in mind that this is probably a 50 year plan rather than a 1 year one!) and worked backwards. What do I need to do? And how do I move forward from now?

You might notice I have the goal of earning £3-5,000 per month…like I said, I was thinking big! But to be honest money isn’t my drive, it’s just one of the easiest, most tangible ways of monitoring your achievements, I guess. You’ll also notice I said I want to be on TV. Aside from almost being on the Alan Titchmarsh show this year, I don’t know if this is really true. I see how much stick people in the public eye get and I get hot under the collar when I think someone’s looked at me funny!

Anyway, I digress! Now I’ve reminded myself of my January 2013 goals, to answer the top question, I think I need to reword it slightly…if you could be anything what would it be?

When I look at what my future success looks like it’s not a job as such, it’s something I want to achieve and someone I want to be. I would be a respected writer with a successful blog and potentially my own products. Of what? Who knows. I guess it will come to me between now and 2063!

12 Feb, 2013

Reuben is 6 months old today. I have had a baby for half a whole year. I can’t work out if it feels like ages or if it’s flown by. Probably a bit of both. He’s completely consumed everything I do so I no longer have any concept of time! I know I’ve got very well acquainted with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony Op 125 (thanks to baby einstein!)  but I’m sure we’ve done more…here’s a review of what’s been going on broken down into the Newborn Months – 0 to 3 months and the Baby Months – 3 to 6 months!

Newborn Reuben – 0 to 3 months old

 

  1. It’s funny to think I went from a neurotic but optimistic mum-to-be in my due date post when I turned 40 weeks pregnant to sleep-deprived zombie for the next 3 months.
  2. Reuben, my perfect little boy, arrived 3 days later after a rather long labour
  3. I was then quite taken aback by having a newborn – I was so busy being pregnant I’d forgotten to find out what it would be like to have a newborn! It became all about survival for the next few weeks when I realised the importance of sleep. This is most important piece of advice I would pass on to any new mums or mums to be…!
  4. I pondered my new body at 4 days and then 3 weeks and again at 12 weeks
  5. After my pre-baby breastfeeding course I had to get to grips with the reality of breastfeeding (and got very well acquainted with nipple shields and my steriliser)
  6. I soon discovered Reuben wasn’t a fan of sleeping unless he was on me, on my boob, so in a bid to not become part of the sofa, I had to decide whether to dummy or not to dummy (we went with yes to the dummy but Reuben decided later that he didn’t like them anyway)
  7. And, after a lack of sleep both at night and during the day, baby blues hit our house  but we hit it back with romance (and sex)
  8. When Reuben was 9 weeks old I worked full time for a week in Vienna which meant I had to get very friendly with a disabled toilet and my breast pump. These are my breastfeeding tips for the full time working mum following that week away!
  9. Happily Reuben turned 3 months marking his graduation from newborn to baby. This was a definite turning point for me – I’m such a fan of sleep that I found those first months very tough. When we turned that 3 month corner I just started to enjoy life so much more because he was sleeping better, interacting and generally lovely! (not that he wasn’t lovely before but I was just such a zombie I struggled to enjoy him as much)

 

31 Dec, 2012

Well it’s been 2 weeks since my last post. Even straight after having a baby I blogged more than this!

I guess the combination of Christmas with the anniversary of finding out I was pregnant has rendered me speechless! Often it’s Mike who goes into his Christmas grump but comes out the other side quoting Delboy “…this time next year…”!

Now it’s my turn. Even before I started over-indulging, I had started to contemplate my new existence and have been thinking over and over how I would articulate it in a post. I’ve never had a plan. When I finished Uni I was offered a job without looking for one, so I didn’t need to think about that. Then I had a fun (read drunk) night with best pal Alex and our business was born and we did that for 3 years. Then I got pregnant and we shut the business down and I was going to do that, be a mum. Now, as I come out of the new mum haze and my new mum pals are preparing themselves for going back to work within the next few months, I realise I am not.

I had a little melt down about this a few weeks ago – I had envisaged staying at home with baby, filling our days with mum things; parks and cake and coffee and play groups. Nice as all that is, I can’t help but feel like I’m not achieving anything. And whilst I’m trying to work out what I want to do with myself, I have to battle with the feelings of guilt and selfishness that I’m not content to just be a mum. Mike sent me a lovely message telling me I was doing a great job with Reuben, there is no hurry to work out what it is I want to do and he would support me…The world is my oyster, as they say, and it is terrifying!

I don’t know what my New Years resolutions are yet – cutting it a bit fine, I know! – Right now I feel like I have a million resolutions, lose weight, blog more, declutter my stuff, in fact all the things I wrote about in my first ever blog posts! Nothing changes except I now have a baby and a big sense of responsibility. I guess January is all about taking stock, remembering what I have achieved this year and what I have to be thankful for, and working out what is important. Then I’m sure I’ll put together a few resolutions – I’ve been advised to go for 1 achievable and 10 unachieveable! Shouldn’t be hard.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas, thank you for reading my self indulgent musings over the last year and Happy 2013!

 

Love Hannah xxxx

P.s. please do share any resolutions you have – it might inspire me too!

03 Nov, 2012

Well, we survived our week in Vienna. Me, Reubs and the boobs.

Reuben with his passport waiting to board his first flight

I’ve got to say the breastfeeding element of my week at work was the easy bit. What I failed to prepare for was leaving my little fella for 5 long days! The first evening when I had to go meet my boss was heartbreaking as I had to leave him crying and it was all I could to do not to cry myself! Then the next day was really sad. It was a long day, and I was exhausted from trying to settle Reuben for hours on end in a bloody travel cot so when I finally left work with my aching feet (to say they felt like they had been chopped off at the ankle is an understatement), a newborn crying on the tram completely tipped me over the edge and I arrived back at the flat in floods of tears!

The gang of course were completely fine and by the end of the week, dare I say it, I was actually enjoying myself. I was working with some lovely people (the dream team was Yvonne, Rachael and I – they really kept me going, looked after me and were good fun), meeting old friends and colleagues (all of whom were told about Reuben – I was a single with no B side – I bet the other people on the stand dreaded those little words ‘so what have you been up to…?’), and feeling like a human again.

Me and Rachael, taken by Yvonne – my saving graces!

Having said that, I did spend the week pining to be back on the sofa with Reuben and one night I even got home after Ruben had gone to bed – what do you mean he doesn’t need me to put him to bed?!?

BUT we’re here to talk about boobies! Don’t get excited boys, they are no longer the fun bags you remember (in fact a friend of mine told me about having to call ‘it’ off the other day because she’d drenched her hubby in milk half way through – these are not sexy times, ladies), they are employed full time as milk machines, and here’s my breastfeeding tips during my week of being employed full time….

1. Your baby eats more than you think during the day – on the first day I only expressed once and as a result by the time I got home my boobs were literally as square as a milk carton because they were so full.

2. Don’t chance it – it took me a few days to get the expressing right and I mistakenly chanced it at the end of the day in the hope of feeding Reuben as soon as I got home. What really happened … I was completely drenched by the time I got home and Reuben had just had a bottle.

3. Express every 3 hours – it seems a bit excessive but I found that my boobs sent me a tingling signal and I would express about 3 oz (about 10 minutes per boob)

4. Find a fridge – Rachael hunted down a fridge for me as she hated the idea of me wasting the milk. This meant that apart from the first day, Reuben actually ended up not having much formula at all as I was bring about 9 oz back and expressing in the morning.

5. Don’t let people hug you too tight – it friggin’ kills!

6. Try and find a nicer room than the one I did – I got very intimate with the inside of the disabled toilet…

The salubrious surrounding that I was expressing in 3 times a day!

I actually took 2 types of expressers with me during the day, the Rhythm Electric Breast Pump Set and Breast Express Breast Pump both by Nuby. The electric pump comes with an attachment to make it a manual pump, which is what I took with me (although there is also an attachment for batteries so you can have a portable electric breast pump – I just couldn’t find batteries in my hurry to leave! One day I’ll plan and pack in advance…) because it is the easiest and most efficient way to express and as I was able to store the milk in a fridge, it has a much bigger capacity.

Breast Express Breast Pump

The Breast Express is a handbag sized pump, which came in handy when I was out and about, and needed to quickly express some milk off to avoid engorgement/soaking wet shirt syndrome! It’s significantly cheaper than any other pumps I’ve come across (less than £14), which is probably why new mums in America who have to go back to work (often much earlier than us lucky folk in the UK) apparently love these mini pumps…I recon it’ll come in handy at home too for little trips out like going to the gym or a night out… whenever that happens!

Working mum with the youngest ITS world congress delegates

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