For the last five months work has been a bit iffy for me with threatened redundancy and a pay cut shadowing the first part of 2017 (thankfully neither of them happened). So it’s probably not surprising that I’ve decided to ditch the working mum lark and go on maternity leave at 31 weeks rather than the 37 weeks I managed last time. That means there is only four weeks to go (18 working days to those that are counting i.e. me) until I can wave goodbye to the 8.30 – 5 and, all being well, I should have a good few weeks to wallow in my increasing girth and line up those Netflix shows ready for the inevitably night feeds. However, whilst I am looking forward to hanging up my budget spreadsheets and database reports for a while I know that returning to work 2.5 years ago, just before the Child turned one, was the right decision for me.
There’s no denying being a ‘working mum’ is difficult at times but then being an anything mum (or dad obvs) is pretty darn hard most days. For me though, being able to leave the house four days a week to do a job that I know how to do and I’m good at as opposed to being a mum which is pretty much guess work from fertilisaton, definitely has it’s benefits. So here are my reasons why being a working mum works for me:
I might as well start with possibly the most superficial one (although there is one about biscuits later so maybe not). I like having money that is all mine and it’s nice at the end of the month, after I’ve paid half the mortgage, household bills, nursery fees, food shopping, the Child’s ballet and football lessons, pet insurance and other random expenditure, that the £12.50 left in bank is all mine to do what I like with.
I’m lucky that I get a relatively generous annual leave allowance but then anything is generous compared to the zero I’d get if I didn’t go out to work. I know the general consensus is that you should save it for when your child is ill but I don’t. Most of my annual leave is used up to do lovely family things but every so often I’ll take a day or two off, send the Child and Husband to nursery and work and just have a blissful day to myself. And I get paid for it. You might think it’s selfish but I think it’s self-preservation.
Whilst we’re on the subject of leave, going out to work also means I have the option of taking a sick day if I need one. I should point out to all potential future employers that I’ve only had one sick day in the last four years but the thought that I could spend the day under a duvet on the sofa feeling sorry for myself and entering This Morning competitions is a good one.
Talk in the first person
I don’t know about you but when I’m with my daughter I spend most the time speaking in the third person:
“No Mummy is not doing a poo in this public toilet.”
“Mummy doesn’t know what Elsa’s pain is made from.”*
“Because Mummy said so, that’s why.”
But at work I actually get to use personal pronouns and converse like a normal person.
No endless whys
We’ve recently entered the dreaded ‘Why Phase’ and it is doing my absolute nut in. Sure I still get asked why at work but it’s usually once and it’s not usually related to painting the cat yellow.
You don’t have to play
This may be controversial but I’m just going to say it – I don’t like playing. Not all playing, as a mum I’m pretty good at turning a cardboard box into a castle or building a Lego lighthouse or telling stories about naughty girls who don’t do as they’re told but imaginary play is not for me. I find it tediously dull and if I had to do it more than I do now then my brain would leak out of my ear and form a pool of gloop on carpet. At nursery the Child is literally played with all the livelong day (I honestly don’t know how they do it, I think they’re unicorns or something) and because I know she’s had 8 – 10 hours of solid attention I don’t feel as bad about sticking the TV on when we get home because we have exactly 34.326 minutes to make and eat tea before we start the ‘Bedtime Routine’.
You know before you had kids you could ‘pop to to the shops’ and how it now takes 3 days, a bag of snacks and a PhD in hostage negotiation with a toddler in tow? Well on my lunch break at work I can actually pop to the shops. Sometimes that means grabbing a pint of milk and a loaf of bread from Tesco and other times it’s a mini shopping spree at H&M. Either way the novelty of shopping without having to extract a toddler tyrant from the magazine crap rack hasn’t worn off.
Public biscuit eating
So I want to eat 15 custard creams and a double finger Twix at 9.17 in the morning? Well I can and I don’t need to do it on the toilet or with my head hidden in the kitchen cabinet. I can do it at my desk and I don’t have to share except on my birthday when I have to bring in cake which seems mightly unfair.
Say no without a tantrum
Whilst not true all the time, at least if someone does have a tantrum at work because you’ve said no people judge you a little less if you follow it with “go to the toilet and get your shit together Sandra”. Apparently if you say that to a toddler you’re just being mean.
So there we have it, my definitive list of why being a working mum works for me. I don’t know how I’ll feel this time next year when I’m nearing the end of my maternity leave. Perhaps I’ll be joyfully skipping back to my desk or I’ll need peeling off the door frame and frog marched to my PC. But either way above have definitely sweetened the 8.30 – 5 deal working mum deal.
*The Child genuinely asked what Elsa’s pain was made of last week, which quite frankly was too deep a question to answer first thing in the morning.