By Naomi Saunders
A school teacher from Cornwall, and Mum to 2 beautiful little girls. Following a difficult experience feeding her second baby Naomi has become an advocate of Combination Feeding and works with MAM to raise awareness of parents right to choose their own path when it comes to feeding.
There and Back Again: A Working Mother’s Tale
Returning to work after maternity leave is the reality that more mums than ever are facing. A decision which pulls tight at heart strings and leaves us with questions which require careful consideration. But what is the reality of returning to work, can it be something other than a horrendous experience?
When it was my time to return to the classroom as a teacher, my daughter was just 6 months old. The preparation for it was almost as exhausting as going. Coordinating schedules with my partner, deciding childcare and storing milk. But no matter how prepared I had been, during those early weeks of being back, I was just not emotionally and mentally ready. When people spoke to me about work related topics I wanted to pull out my phone and show off all my photographs, tell them what my daughter had surprised me with the night before.
The Hard Truth
I missed her all the time and I had to swallow the lump in my throat during every conversation. My heart and head were simply not ready to think of anything else apart from my beautiful baby girl. But the hard truth was that my mortgage wouldn’t be paid if I stayed at home, it doesn’t get more real than that.
The reality of being a working mother
When you are surviving on minimal sleep and there is no time for breakfast, it is impossible to arrive at work with a clear mid-set. Often before you even get to your place of work, you have tackled more than some people do in their entire day.
Drying the uniform which is still damp, putting together a make shift lunch because a tiny human has decided they need to sit by their best friend, a baby that won’t stop crying, a lost school tie, missing wet wipes, bill reminders due yesterday, the baby is still crying, four trips to get all the stuff in the car, a forgotten drinks bottle, the return journey to collect the drinks bottle, arrive at school and the drinks bottle has leaked in book bag.
By the time I finally said goodbye to them both I felt as though I had failed them at every aspect of being a mum. This was all before any of us had started our day. ”Why couldn’t I be more organised? Why didn’t I have it all together?” But I wasn’t failing, the expectation required more arms and energy than I had.
Two Full Time Jobs
Often it’s not always considered that when a mum returns to work her responsibility at home remains the same, except now there are less hours to get it all done. The washing still needs to be sorted the bottles still need to be sterilised, the night feeds – oh the night feeds. Life goes on, no one seems to notice a mum working two full time jobs, as one shift ends the other begins. There are no breaks or holidays,
We have created a society where women are expected to work as if they don’t have children but bring up children like they don’t have to work.
But we can make it better. After initially finding the first few months some of the most challenging I had faced, I have now been able to settle into my new even busier lifestyle. Sometimes I even feel excited about going to work – for the break!
Ways to make your transition back to work easier:
- Find childcare you feel 100% happy with. I pulled my daughter out of somewhere after one day because I knew it wasn’t right. The drop off and pick-ups need to fit with your working day. You do not need the extra stress of being late in the mornings or feeling a pressure to leave work earlier than you can.
- Buy products which make your transition back to work easier, I always used the MAM 2in1 breast pump to express milk. It required minimal effort to use after a busy day at work. Their storage containers attach directly to the MAM bottles, all of which I could pass easily to my childminder. Quality feeding items are so worth the investment.
- Make sure you have a back to work meeting with your employer and set clear boundaries on your working day. Agree a time you need to leave and stick to it.
- Accept help – something I have always found difficult but now I am on my second child I know that I have to seize the chance if someone offers to do something to make my life easier.
- Postpartum depression can pop up at any time in the first year, if you feel you are showing any signs of this speak to someone straight away and get help. Do not be tempted to work through it.
Most importantly always remember:
You are only one person, mums might be super heroes, but there are still only so many hours in a day. Be kind to yourself, because you can’t pour from an empty cup.