I returned to work when my daughter was 9 months old. I had 10 months Maternity Leave, needing to finish work early because of Pelvic Girdle Pain (sometimes referred to as SPD). I was later diagnosed with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome which explained some of the difficulties I was having physically, but more about that in a later post.
When I went back, I was desperately sad that I would be spending far less time with my daughter but I knew I needed to return to work and having agreed to go back part time on three days a week, I felt I was doing the minimum. I was reassured knowing that I still had 4 days with her – I was fixated on the fact that she was with me over 50% of the time so it was fine.
At first, it went really well. Adrenaline saw me through the first couple of months and I felt like I was Super-Woman! I was being really efficient at work and then I was being fun-mommy on my days off and (sort of) keeping on top of the house. I felt brilliant! Then my spark went out. Good lord, I was tired.
I was working long hours Tuesday-Thursday to try to fit in 5 days worth of work into the 3 days I was in the office. I realised I had to do that as it is very difficult to work from home with a toddler who wants to press all the keys on the laptop and draw over all of your files! My husband works in retail so often works weekends so I was finding that I was doing 3 or 4 days of solo parenting after 3 exhausting days at work. Something had to change.
After a great deal of time deliberating, I decided I had to go up to 4 days. My work was suffering and I was so tired and stretched that I was getting super grumpy with Hubby and I didn’t have the energy to have exciting adventures with my daughter. It seemed daft to be doing all that extra work and not being paid for it too.
The first Monday was so tough. I sobbed in the shower. I sobbed when getting dressed. I sobbed into my cheerios. I felt so guilty. I felt like I chose Mondays for ME. I wasn’t strong enough to make 3 days work. I wasn’t strong enough to manage 3 days at work, 4 days with my daughter. I was choosing work over her.
The rational side of my brain said don’t be ridiculous. A happy mother is a happy child. However, the emotional side of my brain kept arguing back and making me doubt myself. I’ll keep fighting it. This is best for all of us. It’s best for all of us. It’s best for all of us. If I keep saying it, the rational part will win over the emotional part, right?
I honestly have so much respect for single parents! In fact, I just have respect for ALL parents. We are all just doing the best we can and no doubt will continue to feel guilty about everything!
My aim is to ensure that I keep to normal office hours on the 4 days I am in work so that I can make the most of the couple of hours in the evening before my daughter’s bedtime and for our 3 days together to be fun. Fingers crossed I make this work.
How are you balancing things?