Working Mother Guilt

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?

My beautiful baby & fur-baby

My beautiful baby & fur-baby

Clare Signature

Trying to update my work wardrobe, post-baby!

As part of my Valentine’s treat from hubby, last weekend I went out alone! Not very romantic but the opportunity to have some me time – without a buggy, a bag full of nappies and a toddler (albeit a gorgeous one) was the equivalent of a mini-break!

I’ve been considering my work wardrobe. My post-baby body isn’t working my pre-baby office clothes quite as well as I would like and I needed a rethink. So, I took myself off down to Oasis in The Bullring Shopping Centre to attempt to reinvent myself.

My thoughts were to go for an outfit centering more around skinny-fit trousers rather than traditional pencil skirts and shift dresses as I’ve definitely retained some weight around the tummy and hips, whereas the legs have, thankfully, returned to pre-baby size. I feel comfortable on non-work days in skinny jeans and baggy tops so hoped to find a smarter version that would work for the office.

On arrival, I found it was the store’s grand opening after a refurb and so there were treats on offer – traditional lemonade and sweets! Yum! After browsing for only a couple of minutes, I was approached by a member of staff to see if I needed any help. After explaining what I was hoping to achieve, she introduced me to Dani, their Personal Shopper.

Dani was excellent, getting me to try on various outfits that I wouldn’t have even picked up off the rails. A particular favourite was this dress:

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A bargain at £55, fully lined and nicely structured. However, it was a little tight around the tummy so I sadly left it behind but it’s definitely on the wish list if ever I find some time to do some sit ups!

A daring outfit (for me anyway) was this one:

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Super cute I think you’ll agree but I’d never have thought to put that floral print and stripes together! The skirt (£32, lined) was really comfy and didn’t cling but it was too short for me to wear for work. I did end up with the mustard top (£25 – a real bargain!) even though it’s a colour I’d never normally wear. It hangs really nicely and the fabric makes it feel like a much more expensive top. I also bought the stripy jacket (only £45!). Now, I’ve not convinced myself to keep the jacket yet as I’m not sure how much use I’ll get from it or whether I’ll keep it clean (imagine tiny sticky hands cuddling me – lovely but it does mean I’m often covered in little handprints!). So, the jury is out on that one.

I also bought some black skinny jeans (£40) and a black textured cocoon jacket (£45). I’m hoping that this will be the start of the new work wardrobe. The cocoon jacket is quite cool I thought – a smarter choice than a black cardi but more relaxed than a blazer or suit jacket. I chose those four things as staple items to wear with other clothes I currently have and hope to be feeling a little younger, cooler and slimmer at work!!

I was pleasantly surprised when handing my money over that they were giving goody bags away and I got a lovely jute bag with a large candle and a nail polish inside! Now, the colour of the nail polish is not for me but I’ll certainly enjoy the candle. I really enjoyed my shopping experience and I’m feeling better already about going back to work next week!

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If ever you’re feeling a little lost and in need of some inspiration for your wardrobe, i would highly recommend a Personal Shopper. At first I wasn’t sure but Dani was excellent and took over 2 hours to listen, advise, encourage and support me to try on clothes that took me out of my comfort zone and now I have a wish-list of clothes to buy when I’m paid and they’re on offer. Roll on pay day!

Are you post-baby? How are you finding the new you? I would love to hear from you.

Clare xx

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I don’t usually get excited about Valentine’s Day. I am one of those people who think that we should actively love each other every day. I don’t expect dinner or fancy gifts, although we do always buy each other a card. In the early days of dating, it was an opportunity to show each other how you felt and that was exciting but as the years go on, I believe that love should be shown and felt daily.
This year my thoughts on Valentine’s Day are different. This year I was excited! It has been 15 months since we became parents and our little daughter has had almost all of our attention. I knew that we would have less time for one another but I didn’t expect that becoming parents would test us as much as a couple. I’m pleased to say that we have settled into our routine as parents and we are able, with a little more sleep under our belt, to carve out time for one another. So, I was excited for Valentine’s Day because I’d gone over budget on a gift for my hubby and I’d written a card (a hilarious card – see below!) that I believe explained to him that I still love him, still get excited to see him and that he still gives me butterflies despite the fact that I don’t always communicate that to him. This Valentine’s Day was an opportunity to think of him, to think of a gift to make him smile and an opportunity to remind him how important he is to me.
Lucky me, he viewed the day in the same way!
How have you spent Valentine’s Day? Whatever you have been up to, I hope you have felt loved.
Clare xx
Image (c) Gin Bunny Prints

Image (c) Gin Bunny Prints

This is the card I got for my hubby – the whole range is hilarious! You can find the Etsy shop for Gin Bunny Prints here.