Returning to workforce

As I write this, I have just wrapped up my first week back at work after a year’s maternity leave with my second (and last) baby.

And it’s been great.

It’s been great seeing my colleagues and getting myself reacquainted with all the work that’s happening. It’s been great being myself again, and actually having time by myself on the train or on my lunch break. Even having some time to focus on work without also keeping an eye on the kids so the baby doesn’t eat a book (a real possibility) has felt like a luxury.

It’s also been great seeing my 5-year-old excited about going to the childminder’s after school and playing with other children, eating new foods, and then buzzing about his day as we walk home together. It’s been great seeing my one-year-old bonding with other babies and the staff at his nursery, and then coming to pick him up and give him loads of kisses and cuddles, all the sweeter for the time we spent apart.

And I’ve thought, “This is how a return to work should be.”

But it is a million miles away from my first return to work, which was a disaster that marked the beginning of one of my unhappiest periods of work life.

So what’s made the difference? There’s some luck involved, but there’s also a few things I can’t help but think have made the difference between miserably job hunting after work and looking forward to Monday. Continue reading “Returning to workforce”

Embracing the seasons

We’ve had to turn on the heat in the early mornings, which are staying darker, longer. Leaves of orange and brown rustle under the empty swings at the park, and when the wind blows through the trees they rustle as only dry leaves about to drop can. It’s official: autumn is here.

There’s something to be said for embracing the season for what it is, not trying to make it what it isn’t.  Continue reading “Embracing the seasons”

Making the most of the summer

As we celebrate the last day of school, I’ve been preparing for the summer holidays. This is kind of a one-time thing for us: I’m effectively a stay at home mum this summer, and it’s my first summer holidays with a school-age child. I see an expanse of six gorgeous weeks with my boys. Even the weather has been unusually dry, sunny, and hot. What could be better? And I’m reminded of something I read recently: we only have 18 summers with our kids. Not much at all, is it?

Then I think practically about it. I’m approaching the last thirteen, unpaid weeks of maternity leave as summer holidays start, so money is tighter than tight. And I’ve been enjoying my time with my baby while my older son is at school, which is my quality time with baby but also when he is nursing or sleeping in my arms, it’s my only me-time all day. During the week-long holidays so far this year I’ve not really had time to read or write or meditate. How will that go for six weeks?

And then there’s also the very real situation when my son stands in the lounge and asks me what is something fun we can do together today and all I hear is crickets chirping in my head?

So holding both the amazing opportunity and the challenge of full-time and largely-solo-parenting, I’m sharing my brainstorm of ideas to make summer work for my kids and, importantly, for me, too. Here we go. Continue reading “Making the most of the summer”

Dinner on the table – tips for busy parents

I think we’ve all been there: you’re walking in the door with your kids coming back from the nursery or childminder’s and a full day of work. You’ve got your bags and your kids school stuff (often with an oddly-shaped-but-extremely-fragile-and-difficult-to-carry craft project your kid made at school – what’s up with that?). You walk in, throw the stuff down, set the baby down, help the kid get his shoes off. All you really want to do is sit down and have a cup of tea and five minutes to yourself but you also know you needed to start dinner about five minutes ago and the baby has started chewing the legs of the furniture for good measure (no? just me?).

Continue reading “Dinner on the table – tips for busy parents”