"Dream big LITTLE one"
"A LITTLE thing called love"
"Sometimes the LITTLEST things take up the biggest space in our hearts"
These signs all hang up in my daughter's room. As I rocked my baby to sleep, I read these signs and looked down at her. She isn't so little anymore. She is getting heavy, crawling, chatting (saying Da Da), trying to stand and eating solids. Friends have just had new-born babies and they are little, but my baby is becoming a toddler. She "graduated" from her musicals class this week, which is a nice way of saying she got kicked out because she was too advanced and had to go join the big kids (9 months plus).
She is now 7 months and I am due back to work in a couple of months. We work to live, not live to work but the decision to go back to work has never felt so big. My friend asked me this week "if financially you didn't need to work would you still go back?" and the answer is probably yes. I have been on maternity leave and yet have found myself starting this blog and doing the odd bit in the office. I thoroughly enjoy my work, as I have said in the previous blogs, it is my comfort zone and the world of motherhood has felt very alien.
However, just as I am beginning to get comfortable in this new role, I am about to shake things up again and have to find a new happy medium between work and baby. There are so many decisions to be made. Do I follow my head and go back to what I enjoy and work as much as possible to earn enough? Or do I follow my heart and work the bare minimum to maximise the time with my constantly changing baby?
I know I am not the only mother who has had to grapple with this and it comes back down to work-life balance. I know my husband would love to be able to give up work and be at home with the baby and so I am not taking this opportunity for granted. Finances are important, enjoying your work and feeling fulfilled is important but money cannot buy time with my child. Babies are only little for a very small time, which I have reminded myself of today.
I am so fortunate that we live in a time where businesses have woken up to the fact that flexible working is so important. Now, more than ever businesses realise in order to get the most out of their staff they have to provide a new way of working. Mothers can work and still raise their children.
If you are thinking of returning to work perhaps you might want to take the advice of these motivational signs and think about the following things:
1. "Dream big LITTLE one"
In an ideal world, how many hours would you like to work? Who would you like to look after your baby for you? Think of what you would really like to happen, even if it seems like a pipe-dream. Picture it and start to visualise that it could be possible. Try to make a way of making the impossible, possible. Don't be afraid to ask your employees for a new way of working. Draw up a proposal that you can present to them of what you would like. The worst they can say is "no" right?
2. "A LITTLE thing called love"
What do you love doing? Maybe this is the time to work in a way you've never worked before. Maybe you can work from home, change your hours, do something different or start a business for yourself. Perhaps your current role is too demanding and maybe you will just need to find a new role that will suit you better. Anything that takes you away from your child you are going to have to enjoy or you will end up resenting it.
3. "Sometimes the LITTLEST things take up the biggest space in our hearts"
Becoming a mum has completely changed my priorities and although I would love to be able to just spend my time with my baby, financially I can't do that. This is a decision that will affect not just my husband but wider family members also. My parents have kindly offered to look after the baby for some of the time I'm working. But I need to be mindful that they are grandparents, not childminders, so I don't want to take advantage of their kindness. Have discussions early on as to who might be able to help out with childcare and what are they willing to do. Ask your partner or family members what they would like you to do, what do they think is best for the child
And lastly, taken from a sign my sister read in the ladies toilets.
4. "Believe that you can be more than you imagine"
In all planning, keep reminding yourself you are doing what is best for you and your child. This will help to minimise the guilt and reduce the stress of it all. Speak to your employers and communicate with them if you are finding the process difficult. Visualise yourself working again and enjoying it. Don't tell yourself that you are going to hate it, start to get excited about this next chapter.
As a Smartworking mum, I believe you CAN have it all. You CAN have a thriving career and a thriving, happy baby. You just need to decide what you want and you CAN make it happen.