When Mum Goes Back To Work: A Survival Guide
Having worked for myself for the last few years, I've been pretty much been able to choose my own hours, re-schedule meetings and work days if the kids are sick, give myself consistent positive feedback in my employee reviews AND sleep with the boss….
... ok, maybe I’m not explaining myself very well: my partner Alan and I (we call him Ass Monkey, his family and I, because we are lovely) set up an engineering firm in 2011 because he’s REALLY good at engineering and REALLY bad at admin. And I’m REALLY good at admin and… well, I can barely change a lightbulb. Then, not to be idle, we had the two kids during that time, bought a house, got ourselves a business premises, staff and ultimately, kind of replaced me so that I could be at home with the kids and work from there.
Which has been fine for the most part but also… a little bit of a snooze fest, to be honest, too. From time-to-time, the notion that zero urgency was being awarded to my personal needs beyond getting the kids through the day got to me: dishes chucked around the kitchen because ‘someone’ is at home anyway and will sort it out, various piles of laundry lounging about the house like piles of dead bodies in The Walking Dead that I (and only I) am destined to resuscitate, dinners that have to be imagined and purchased, created and presented to kids who you contemplate staple-gunning to the kitchen table to keep them there to eat it. And this is all before you've gotten around to brushing your teeth...
But no more! Ladies and gentlefolk of the parenting world, I have been gifted... a new, grown up, go-to-the-office job! Notwithstanding the fact that this is my first week (and yes, at HerFamily.ie too, score!), I envisage my weeks will now become the perfect mix of escapism, i.e at the office, and reality, i.e. dealing with a toddler who will only communicate in 'Minion' at home. And I am totally down with that.
Whether you are just changing jobs directly, or have been absent from the workplace for a time and are starting something new, or if you've decided to change career entirely, it is ok to feel a certain amount of terror when planning to get back out there. It's kind of like your first day at school all over again, which comes with all the usual worries like 'Will there be mean girls?', 'Will I get my skirt caught in my knickers coming out of the jacks?', 'Does anyone bring hang sambos wrapped in tin foil any more?'...
Here are my personal tips for surviving your first day back to work:
1. Ask your other working friends for guidance and support. They love to help. My really sound friends on Facebook suggested things like 'Start your own gang', 'pull a sickie' and 'don't forget to wear underwear.' Very helpful.
2. Find someone to mind your kids and make sure that person is flexible. Our childminder knows that I'll be leaving 'somewhere between 8 and 9am' and will be back 'somewhere between 5 and 6 pm' (if I come back).
3. Write out some instructional notes for your partner in your absence. The lists on our kitchen wall now have titles such as 'How To Survive A Morning Here In 74 Easy Steps', and 'How Your Jocks Really Get To Your Drawer.'
4. Find a specific spot for all essential supplies. Just because you know where the nappy bags, dog's lead, hairbrushes, keys and 'my silver car, the one with the roof' is, doesn't mean that anyone else does. Clear out a drawer or a press and chuck everything in there. Maybe stick a neon laminated sign on there too, for complete clarity.
5. If you need your laptop for the purposes of working at your new job, do not give it to anyone for an 'upgrade' at the weekend and expect to see it again for Monday morning. IT specialists are liars, liars I tell you. face palm.
(P.S. I'm having an amazing first week already. Kids? What kids?!).
Why not share your funny back to work stories with me? I'd love to hear them! You can e-mail me at sharyn.hayden@HerFamily.ie