It’s been six months since I returned to work full time after my maternity leave ended. Believe me when I tell you the past six months have flown by in a blur of car journeys, childcare drop offs and long days at the office.
I made no secret of the dread I felt at returning to my job after sixteen months off, not helped by the fact that I was returning to a new office and working with staff I didn’t know. Of course, I needn’t have worried. My return to work has been amazing and I have been lucky enough to quickly find my feet and sort out a work-life balance that suits us all.
Naturally, along the way I’ve had to make some sacrifices while carving out that perfect work-life balance but there are also some things that are completely non-negotiable.
Sacrifice: A tidy home
It doesn’t matter how much cleaning I do each evening when I return home from the day job, the house still looks as if a bomb has hit it, partly due to the fact that Dex is at that age where he needs to get everything out of every cupboard. I could spend my one day a week off cleaning, but I’d rather spend that precious time with Dex. This one day off is non-negotiable which I’ll come onto later.
Sacrifice: Eating healthily.
While I was on maternity leave I had time to create and craft healthy dishes for my family and I to enjoy which really contributed to losing the excess weight I gained while I was pregnant. Unfortunately, since returning to work, I simply don’t have the time to cook fresh meals from scratch and usually grab something from the supermarket for lunch and exist on ready meals for dinner. Luckily, Dex has all of his meals at the childminder and we eat once he’s gone to bed, meaning I don’t need to worry about him picking up my bad habits, for now.
Sacrifice: Seeing family
Because I only have one day off during the week and Dexter is still napping for two to three hours a day, it is difficult to get over to Wales to see family. I’d like to be able to get over every week, but it’s just not possible at the moment. I’m hoping now that my husband is able to drive that we will have more opportunities at the weekend to see them as I am all too aware of how time quickly passes by.
Sacrifice: Lower wages
With working full time comes the cost of childcare. Putting Dexter in childcare for four days a week costs us just shy of £600 a month which we have to find from our wages. Childcare vouchers certainly help and that means us both sacrificing £243 from our salary each month before finding the rest from our net pay packet. I can truly say our childminder is worth every single penny, but it is tough to see your wage packet be reduced so significantly.
Sacrifice: Flexible working
Before I had Dex I could work whatever days suited the office. Naturally I had to work my 41 hours each week, but I had the flexibility to do more hours if the office needed it and enjoy a long weekend if I fancied it. Now I have Dexter, this just isn’t possible. A few weeks ago we were severely short staffed but I couldn’t work my day off to help the office as I had nobody to have Dex. It’s just one of those things I’ll have to get used to, but I can’t stop feeling guilty that I’m letting my team down when it does happen.
Non negotiable: My day off
I have one day off each week and there is no way I am going to waste it. It’s my precious time to spend one on one with my baby and each week I make sure we have lots of fun activities planned, like going to the beach or creating crafts together.
Non negotiable: Evenings with my husband
I think it’s important when you are a full time working parent that you ensure you make time for your partner. Each evening we have a meal together and sit and watch TV. Sometimes we just sit in silence on our phones, but we are still spending time together and relaxing which is what we need after a hard day’s graft. As I type this now, we are sat opposite other, comfortable in the silence while we get on with what we need to do, occasionally stopping to say ‘I love you’.
Non negotiable: Blogging
My husband has his bikes and I have my blog. The blog keeps me busy and is an extra source of income for us while we are saving hard to buy a house (and a car now my husband has passed his test!) and I need time each week to draft my posts, promote them and answer emails. Luckily, my husband and I are very supportive of each other’s hobbies so while he trains hard on his turbo-trainer, I am working hard on writing posts. I’ve also started making sure I use my dinner hour to tend to my blog which has helped me keep on top of things massively. When returning to work I could have let the blog slowly become less important in my life, but instead I’ve kept up with it and I’m incredibly proud of that.
What have you had to sacrifice along the way on the path to finding the perfect work-life balance as a full time working Mum?
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.