Returning to work part time after maternity leave – the pros and cons

It can’t be denied that there are some serious benefits of working three days a week. But it’s also a little strange and does have its drawbacks.

Before I had LP, I was busy climbing the career ladder and enjoying hectic agency life. Yes, sometimes I felt like my life was passing by in a blur of meetings, PowerPoint decks, team drinks and never quite feeling that I had enough time to do everything in my schedule. When I found out I was pregnant, it was quite a shock, because I’d always planned to work part time once I had children, and I thought I couldn’t continue to climb the ladder and do the job I was doing unless it was full time.

My husband and I had been saying we’d have children “in a couple of years” for more than a couple of years. Having LP was an interruption when I didn’t even realise I really needed one.

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Cheese & Broccoli Muffins

Cheese and Broccoli Muffins for Babies, Toddlers and the Whole Family

Cheese and broccoli muffins for baby8 months-old LP approves of this cheese & brocolli muffins recipe

Muffins are great for weaning babies onto solids. They are suitable from quite an early age (no earlier than 6 months), once baby has mastered the pincer grasp enough to manipulate pieces of food into their mouth, because the soft, crumbly texture is easily mashed by toothless gums. As you can see from the picture above, cheese and broccoli muffins were a hit with LP, shown above at about 8 months old.

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Life with a baby

What is life with a baby like?

Quick answer: You have a lot less time for yourself, but you learn to be a lot more productive with your time and might discover a new passion for your ambitions. At least that’s what happened to me.

How life was going to be different was a question I thought about a lot when I was pregnant. No doubt most people do. I also find myself thinking about it now, when I’m having a night out with childless friends. Do I feel somewhat rueful when friends complain that they will have to get up at 11am the next day, for their trendy brunch plans? Am I impressed yet ever-so-slightly envious when they rattle off a list of pleasant activities and errands achieved earlier, sans toddler? Perhaps, although I try to refocus quickly. No-ones aims were ever achieved by wallowing in jealousy (tempting though it is).

The simple answer is that life with a baby means you have less time for anything that doesn’t involve the baby. Dramatically less time. That includes housework, homework, work-work, cooking, dressing, washing, eating, seeing friends, your husband, your sex-life and you, yourself.

But because of this, perhaps from a kind of self-preservation instinct, your determination to find time for yourself grows more fierce. You become slightly better at compartmentalisation and may find that you are less stressed about things. I suspect this may be due to the fact you are too tired to care about the more trivial aspects of life. Fretting over an email’s phrasing becomes less significant when you still have to feed a small child, prevent them from harming themselves, bathe them and persuade them to sleep before your next window of time.

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The First Post

Today is an exciting day! After thinking about it for a couple of years I have finally taken the plunge and set up my own website. That’s a couple of years of fruitlessly turning ideas over in my head; taking pictures of meals for recipes that never got reviewed and reading other blogs with the phrase “I could do this” reverberating around my brain. Whew! I’m glad to be here.

What is Mama Loves… and why have I set it up?

A little over a year ago, my husband and I were blessed with the arrival of our first baby, a son, who shall heretofore be referred to as “LittlePickle” or “LP” for short. His arrival is the main reason for my thinking about starting a blog, rather than just going ahead to do it. I survived newborn baby bootcamp, but stringing sentences together at the keyboard was too much work while I was in the trenches. Never mind the fact “free-time” had disappeared in a confusing puff of smoke, replaced with twelve nappy changes a day, breastfeeding (a full time occupation for those boob noobs out there) and pleading with a tiny child to stop crying and go to sleep.

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Suspicious child, checking I haven’t fallen asleep

To be honest, I found being a new mom extremely challenging, mainly because I don’t function well on lack of sleep. Obviously, no-one functions well without sleep. But sleep deprivation caused me a lot of depression and negative, foggy-minded soul searching which repeatedly led me to the conclusion that motherhood was not for me.

I’m very grateful to say that, once LP started sleeping through the night more often and achieving small steps towards independence from me, I finally started to find my groove. Me, my husband and the little guy are doing really well now and I’ve never been happier. We always were really; it just took a couple of months of proper sleep to see that clearly.

So this is a space to think about all the good things in life, at least for the time I spend here. It’s not just about being a mom, but there’s no denying that being a mom comes first these days. It’s not always easy, in fact some times it’s a hellish struggle, but on the days where everything works I love it. I just want to share some of those good days.

I’ll be writing about the things this Mama Loves, such as:

  • Nap time
    Seriously considered naming the blog “Mama loves naptime”, but in the end decided that would be unfair to my child. But nap time, while it still exists, is my refuge where I can get the housework back on track, attempt some form of craft or cooking or other project, or just rest!
  • Baby
    Well, you knew that, didn’t you?
  • Papa
    Together for ten, married for three. I couldn’t live without him.
  • Cooking
    I have a passion for easy recipes that taste good. I can’t claim to be an expert chef or to always get it right, but mistakes can be a source of humour…
  • Eating
    See previous point
  • Clothes!
    Yes – “clothes” rather than fashion. I like to wear what I think looks good on me…
  • Reading
    When I can in my limited time and energy… the last book I finished was “Damn You Autocorrect” but before that it was “Wuthering Heights” so I suppose that could be described as eclectic
  • Yoga. Pilates, Fit ball workouts
    Any kind of quick activity that makes you feel as though you have actually done some exercise, since time is often of the essence. For a long time this was mainly YouTube based, since I cancelled my gym membership once I realised there was no crèche…
  • Running
    Well, attempting to run with a hip issue, but more on that another time
  • Travel and days out
    When we manage to get out and organised, my husband and I can still have a great time with the sprog in tow.  I’m sure LP enjoys it too 😉

Well that’s enough for post number one. I was going to try and keep it a little more concise but there you go. See you next time.