I have been a working mum for more than three years now and am currently at the start of my second maternity leave. Some days being at full time work for those three years was extremely difficult while on others it was nice to be able to sit and have a hot cup of tea without having to wipe a nose or change a bum! I know there are a heck of a lot of working mums out there, some who love it, some who hate it and others who are somewhere in the middle. I thought it would be interesting to see exactly how others feel about being a working mum and maybe we can all learn a little something about dealing with that dreaded mummy guilt!
Today we meet the lovely Hayley from Hayley's Little Things talking everything working mummy!
Tell me a little bit about who is in your family
There are four of us plus a Labrador in our family. I have been married to my husband for four years and we have a little girl Daisy who is 2 years old and a tiny baby boy Alex of 9 weeks. I was with my husband for almost 10 years before we got married in sunny Rhodes.
What age were your children when you returned to work?
I am currently on maternity leave for the second time and will return to work in the next two months and Alex will be just 5 months old. The same applied to when I had Daisy. However their daddy is sharing the maternity leave or the correct term is shared parental leave so they'll still be with their mummy or daddy until they were both 9/10 months old. Modern families hey!
Did you return to a job away from the home or within the home?
I have a European based position which is based in London. I live up in sunny Shropshire and am based from home when I'm not out at clients in Europe or working from our office in London, which is weekly. I feel privileged to be able to work from home for some of the week but also find it difficult to have to work away from home and have to stay away from my babies. But it's a great job that I've worked hard for and allows us to have a quality of life we have become accustomed to. If Ben wasn't able to share our leave or if he didn't work locally then I'm not sure I would find the role possible for that reason.
Did you choose to return or did your circumstances force you back?
It was definitely finances that drove me back to work, sadly mortgages and bills are based on our income from working and statutory maternity pay doesn't quite cut it!
Did you return to work full or part time?
I returned back to work full time but cut down to four days, longer days but less of them!
What childcare do you have in place and how did you go about choosing it? ~
We are lucky in that we have family that can have Daisy for us a couple of days. For the remainder of the time she goes to a local nursery which not only has an outstanding OFSTED but is highly recommended by lots of local friends. It's a fairly small nursery that she fit into well from the early days. Being able to manage my own work diary also helps for flexibility although the European and London travel can also mean I'm not around for pick ups etc sometimes and I have to rely on others!
What do you find the most difficult about being a working mum?
Personally I find it difficult working all day and then coming home and having to run a military operation of tea, bath and bed in a short period of time and not actually having the time to sit and listen to Daisy, play with her or ask her about her day as much as I'd like to. It's like walking into a second job!
But even worse than that is with my role requiring travel I often stay away and I find going to bed on those nights really emotional, I hate not being there to say good night and then knowing I won't see her little face in the morning either. You would think I'd enjoy the peace and get lots of sleep but I actually end up with much less sleep those nights.
How do you deal with the working mummy guilt?
I have one day a week off when I'm working and that day is dedicated to Daisy. We are enrolled in swimming lessons and we have picnics after and visits to the park or soft play centre, basically I over compensate that day! But on the days I'm working I'm not entirely sure I do deal with it all that well. I still sit there at my desk doubting myself and feeling down about having to leave her, especially if you've had a difficult morning or evening where you've had to rush them to be ready or maybe you weren't as patient as you should have been in the run up to leaving for work!
How did you feel when it was time to go back to work?
Frustrated that I had ruined the last month or so of my maternity worrying about going back to work. To be fair to myself I did go back to a new job so that was added pressure, new business and new role. But I had time to think when I was panicking about returning and I realised there was no way I could go back to my last job. It would have meant over nights every single week and being about 4 hours away from home for at least 2-3 days a week and with a baby at home I just couldn't do that. So my last couple of months of maternity were spent job hunting!
Is your work/life balance what you want it to be or would you rather work less or more?
Before having Alex I think working four days suited me, one of those was always at home and it felt a nice balance. Now I've had Alex though I would love to drop to three days but financially I just can't see it working, as well as my role which I just couldn't see fitting into three days. But I have found a new mindset since having children that actually work is purely for money at the moment, I've stopped trying to work all hours and go above and beyond. My career can wait until my babies are at school. I won't get this time back.
What advice would you give to a mummy heading back to work?
Try to get into the right mindset that work is just a means to providing for your family, you don't need to live and breathe work unless you want of course. Enjoy the time you have with your babies. But my biggest piece of advice is don't stress or get anxious over the return to work and waste your maternity worrying, you'll transition back far easier than you can imagine. Within a few weeks you'll feel as if you've never been away!
Hayley, thank you so much for taking part in this. Reading your answers is very much like reading my own with the travel and being away for work. I'm 6 months into maternity now so need to sort something so I'm not travelling! Leaving one child is hard enough but two…blah! I hope that you manage to work it so you can reduce yoyr hours at some point but for now it sounds like everything is working so well for you.