On work life balance:
- Going back on a staggered re-entry to work has its pros and cons. It’s great that I get to continue spending quality time with my son and have a gentle introduction into a new routine. It’s a blessing to be able to use a year’s worth of annual leave to be paid 4 days while only working 2 for a few months. But it’s also hard to leave your baby, even if only for 2 days, as well as try to explain humbly to colleagues that 2 days does not mean 4 days of work squeezed into half the time.
- It’s hard to get your head back into a position where someone else tells you what to do and what your priorities should be. Even at my level, I still have a boss and that boss has the authority to dictate my time. Even though it’s done really nicely, it’s still a shift in thinking.
- Returning to work after maternity leave also means a whole lot of extra stuff in your daily routine than was there before. Preparing food, bottles and schedules for the childminder, making sure car seats, prams and toys are all in the right place to get to the right person on any given day, getting up early to feed and get someone tiny ready for their day as well as getting dressed for your own and extending your commute to pick up said tiny person before getting dinner ready, baby fed, bathed and in bed are all new things that are now part of your routine before your working day is actually over.
- So it’s not just a case of being in the office, then being at home and balancing the two, it’s also about finding ways to merge the two as seamlessly as possible so that the best of both worlds can be enjoyed.
- I want to be confident enough in myself that other’s opinions of me don’t matter. I also want to be confident enough in myself that other people’s opinions of my son don’t matter.
- I want to be considered to be a good mum (as well as wanting to be a good mum regardless of others’ opinions!) and I need to find a way of believing that, without my son’s actions being the only reflection of it. He’s such a sweet, happy boy and he’s so well behaved, even if strangers so often only receive his intense gaze as he figures them out and rarely catch a glimpse of the smile that lights up his little face. They don’t know him. I do.
- I want to find a way of doing both my jobs well, in the office and at home. I want to accept help humbly but not use it as an excuse to be lazy.
- Television is addictive. In particular, box sets are addictive. It is all too easy to collapse after a long day and consume a few hours worth of our current favourite box set (West Wing, House, Friends, Scrubs…) The same quality that I love about movies and television – their ability to transport you away from your current situation and escape for a time – is the same quality that tempts you away from the real world, your life and the things in it that require more energy or thought.
- Being able to switch your brain off and forget for a while is addictive. Ultimately though, it is less fulfilling than being present and more damaging long-term than switching off the box and reading, writing, listening, thinking or planning – all things I enjoy but put second when the screen beckons.
- Relaxing by watching television is not the only thing that relaxes me but it’s so hard to remind myself of that. Other things not only relax me but actually rejuvenate me. Man was designed to work – it’s right there in Genesis – and putting some thought and effort into the things that relax me, while it may seem counter intuitive, actually makes me come alive. Overcoming temptation and addiction – even relatively mild – is hard. It will take some work and time but in the long run, will do all of us a lot of good.