Those of you who have read my blog post ‘To work or not to work’ will know that I recently went back to work after maternity leave for a week, while Grump stayed at home with the J. I was a bit concerned about leaving the J, not because she was with her father necessarily (maybe a little bit), but more how I would feel about being away from her.
Well it turns out it was bloody brilliant! OK, that makes me sound like the world’s worst mother. I did miss her and was so happy to see her when I got home, but I really enjoyed being back at work.
On the plus side, Grump loved being at home. In fact, he told me he wants to become a stay-at-home dad (to his work colleagues who are reading this, he is not actually planning on leaving his job). It was at this point that I had to gently remind him that he is the main breadwinner and, even if I went back to work full time, I would still earn much less money than him. I think it was a novelty having the J for a week and that in reality he would get fed up with being at home all the time.
So Grump had a lovely week spending quality daddy time with the J and I got to be out in the real world. I will admit, I started to get tired at about 4.30pm each day and by Friday I was certainly ready for the weekend, but it felt so refreshing to be thinking about and talking to adults about non-baby-related things. And to just be myself, not Mother, Housekeeper, Cook and Wife. I think it helped that the team I was working with were really friendly and the work was interesting. I don’t think it would feel the same going back to a job I didn’t like.
Another bonus from the week, and something I had initially worried about, was that Grump learned all of the J’s little quirks and routines – especially during mealtimes, as he tends to get home from work during or after her dinner. Now, we are now on an equal footing and it means I don’t have to talk him through what she eats and how much etc, when he does feed her. This makes life so much easier!
I know that our ‘job swap’ was a bit of a novelty, but I now have the confidence to say that I do want to go back to work part time and I know that I will be OK being away from the J. Obviously it will be different leaving her at nursery or with a childminder, and perhaps I am being selfish wanting to be away from her, but I always take the view that a happy mum equals a happy baby. I am not happy being at home all the time and I do get fed up with it. I can be stressful, relentless and, at times, just plain boring. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like that. I need more.
Now I realise that not everyone would be able to ‘job swap’ in the same way that we have and that we are in a fortunate position in that we both work in industries where we could do this. Grump is a teacher so he was off on half term and I’m a journalist, so I can take on freelance work. However, if you ever get the chance to do a ‘test’ few days or week at work (some companies do those Keeping-in-Touch days) and your other half can take some holiday – have a go! It might help you to decide what you want to do and it certainly strengthened our family dynamic.
Now I’ve just got to find a job… and some childcare… oh crap