After 1 year and 6 days of maternity leave, I’m heading back to work. I’ve been asked countless times how I feel about it and the truth is, I’m not sure really. I’m not dreading it, but I’m not excited about it either. It was always part of the plan to go back to work, so I knew to expect it. Of course I have loved every second of the last year with Annabelle and of course I can’t even begin to imagine what it’ll be like being apart from her for longer than a few hours, but I think I feel ok about it all. I’m going back to a job in a school that I know and love, so in many ways I know what to expect, but at the same time, I know it’s going to be a completely new experience. For one, I’ve chosen to work part-time, 3 days a week. My main reason for this was because it’s so important to me that my mum job comes first. And across the week, this gives me 4 official days as Mum and 3 as Mrs Howe which I feel is a balance I can hopefully work with. While I know exactly what being a teacher entails, I have genuinely no idea how I’m going to shoehorn my job into my current world with Annabelle. I used to struggle to keep on top of marking and planning before I had another human to worry about. I can only wish myself good luck and try and keep organised! Despite utilising all of my keeping in touch days, I still feel as though I have no idea what’s going to happen once I actually get back into the classroom. I mean, I’ve planned all my lessons and I’ve got all my resources ready, but it’s all the other little bits that will throw me. It’s amazing how much can change in the space of a year in a school and it’s going to take a while for me to adjust to the new little ways that everyone else has adopted gradually. And then there’s the children and their many needs, quirks and questions. In the last year, I’ve only had to please one child a day, sometimes not always successfully. I’m not sure that success rate will suffice in a class of 26. There are a million and one other things I’m worried/panicked/in denial about, but I’m ready. My sandwich is in the fridge ready to go (although knowing me I’ll probably forget it), I’ve got clean clothes ready for the morning (no snot trails, dribble patches or milk stains in sight hopefully), my planning is all done and saved on a memory stick, my bag is packed all ready to go and I’ve set my alarm for 6.30 (this will be a shock after Annabelle generally waking up some time after 7.30 most days). Looking back over the past year, I feel as thought I’ve learnt some things about myself, some good, some not so good, but here are just a few:
- I can survive on very little sleep. Annabelle is generally a good sleeper, but she does love the occasional ‘middle-of-the-night’ party. I’m not always very good at going to bed at a decent time, so some nights I don’t have enough sleep and it’s totally my own doing. But my fitbit tells me that my average nights sleep just last week is 5h 45m which is terrible! Especially with a baby who sleeps through the night a few nights a week! I dread to thing what it was when she was newborn. While I should aim to get a better nights sleep, I’m grateful that I can survive on little sleep as I’m sure it’s a skill that will continue to come in handy, especially going back to work!
- I’ve gotten used to putting everything else before my own needs. All of my basic needs will always come last behind Annabelle’s needs, or any housework or Adam’s needs often. I’ll choose to play with Annabelle, or get her lunch despite being desperate for the toilet, or my tummy rumbling with hunger. I’ll choose to put another load of washing in before sitting down to relax or take a shower. It’s been so lovely constantly looking for ways I can help others in my family, ways I can make my house more homely. While going back to work will feel like a break from all this, it’ll be very similar in many ways, putting 26 other needs before my own will mean I’ll still not be able to go to the toilet or eat when I need to!
- I still can’t keep on top of the laundry. Despite being at homr full time. My laundry basket is always full. Even when I take out enough to fill the washing machine, it’s still somehow full. And even if I do manage to wash everything, I can’t put it all away in time. Clean clothes are taken off the airer, worn and put back in the laundry basket before they’ve even had chance to make it into a drawer! I’m dreading my return to work laundry piles, not sure they can get much bigger but I’m sure they’ll try! I’m not even going to mention all the other forms of housework, but they never get done either.
- I must develop patience. I’ve discovered that I have no patience with anyone or anything. I have found it difficult having to work around Annabelles time schedule rather than my own and I have found it even more difficult when her schedule doesn’t fit in with mine! My patience is very poor at the best of times, but it completely disappears when I’m tired. My patience is yet to make an appearance between midnight and 6am but I’m working on it. I saw a quote earlier this week that really made me chuckle: “We pray for patience, but we want it right now”. This perfectly sums up the last year for me!
- I have a new found respect for all mums. Having survived (almost) one year of motherhood with a fairly easy going baby, and knowing how different all babies are, I have so much respect for all mothers. Motherhood is both the most wonderful and terrifying experience and it can be utterly exhausting. And for all the women in the world who have survived not only the first year, but many, many years or multiple births or a couple of children or an army of children or single parenting, I admire you all. And I’m proud to be among you all!
So this is the end of my beginning of motherhood. It’s been the most incredible year and Annabelle has been the best sidekick. In the last year, she has made me laugh, cry, worry, smile, beam with pride, google things, reach for the camera and think deeply about life more than any other time in my life. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to be able to spend the last year with her all day every day. Here’s to the next chapter! This photo was us this morning enjoying one last officially snuggly lie in.