Miss M and I when she came to visit my school on Open Day.
I’ve already been here before. This feeling of going back to work after maternity leave. Except this time, I have two children, a new role and a thousand things to remember when we all walk out the door at 7:30 am.
I’m a teacher, and very fortunate to have the opportunity to work part time, plus a brilliant child care centre that my children both attend. In 2014 I went back to work after having my daughter, and slotted right back in to the year level I had been teaching for 4 years prior, so I knew exactly what I was doing. It was just like riding a bike (except I can’t actually ride a bike).
Fast forward two years and I took another year of maternity leave to be with my baby boy for his first year. Again, so grateful for the luxury of maternity leave and the ability to afford for my eldest to still attend child care two days a week which was an essential ingredient in me surviving 2016 (you may have read this post and this post where I got a bit honest about my becoming a mum of two?).
The funny thing now that I look back on it, is that the little man would come with me on those days to drop Miss M off at child care, so in some ways he was familiar with it. The staff would often take him for a cuddle, but he would always come home with me. So when we started his transitions, and I left him in the baby room for half an hour at a time, he didn’t take it all that well.
Some of the staff asked me “Has he been baby sat before?”. Well, "not very often" was my answer. When we do have babysitters available they usually take Miss M for us because that’s what makes the most sense at the time. So I think it was time for he and I to have some time apart to allow him to develop relationships with other adults/carers. I felt ready to go back to work.
As I said, I’m so grateful to return to work part time, but this year I’m in a different role. A new year level and a new specialty subject. It’s a strange feeling as an experienced teacher to come into work and feel a bit lost and out of your comfort zone. My emails didn’t work, I needed help to set up my photocopier code, had to get my swipe card and keys back. I felt like I was always asking people for help – which is strange when you’ve worked somewhere for 10 years yet only had one year off. A lot can change in a year.
During meetings, my colleagues would often refer to things that were discussed or training undertaken in the previous year – so once again I felt a little lost. There were new faces from the previous year as well as newer faces starting this year. The dynamics had changed, people had changed classrooms, and students had grown about a foot taller.
And then there’s the morning routine. Getting all four of us out of the house on time is quite the challenge. We prepare as much the night before as we can, set our alarms to get up before the kids (that is if one of them doesn’t wake us up at 5am). I actually have to look presentable (my husband actually said to me – “do you need to straighten your hair?” And I’m like “OF COURSE I DO!!!”). The kids both need to be dressed and fed. We’re trying to implement the “jobs before screens” rule with Miss M. On our first day I forgot the bottles for the little man so we had to turn around and get them. And then on my second day I forgot my hat for school.
I had all of those first day nerves at school, but once I got started and met the students I found my teacher self again and got some confidence back. I was welcomed back by colleagues, parents and students and it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things and catch up on everything. Little Man is surprisingly doing really well at Child Care. It’s like he just needed that first day to be left and cope without me, and then he started to feel a bit more secure (with big sister checking in on him of course).
So that’s my story!
Here are my top tips for mums returning to work – whether it be after your first, second, third or fourth child…
• Be grateful
• Be organised
• Get up early
• Find the balance
• Connect with your colleagues
• Change is good
• YOU CAN DO THIS!