Friday 25th November 2016
The time is vast approaching when I will be returning to work full time following nearly ten months maternity leave.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve really struggled being away from work for this amount of time.
Since I was sixteen, I’ve worked full time.
Half my life in fact.
So to go from that to being at home with a baby all day has been somewhat of a culture shock for me.
I’m used to being busy. I like being busy. I’m typing this as I try and cram some ‘me time’ in as Ella naps. I’ve blogged to keep me sane.
I’ve got a brain.
I want to use it not lose it.
And it’s helped massively.
But what has spurred me on even more to make the decision (to be a full time working mum) is Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’.
I’m choosing to go back full time. I want to stay in this rat race.
I know Ella will be fine at nursery – heck nursery will prep her for school, which in turn preps her for the world.
At her visit last week she was craning her neck to see what was going on. She was desperately trying to wriggle out of my arms to join in.
I’m not worried about her going to nursery in the slightest. It will be good for her development – better than what I could ever provide her.
I don’t want her to have flown the nest and I’ve sacrificed my ambitions when I had the opportunity to chase them.
Ella’s not mine to keep.
She’s mine to teach.
One day she will have a life of her own.
And I’ve thought this practically from the day she was born.
I’ll do my job with her and always love her beyond belief.
But we are both human beings and want the best for ourselves out of life.
In the book, Sheryl mentions Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller foundation, and the subject of how women choose to leave the workforce.
It would make sense for me to cut my hours. In essence I’m working to pay for my child to go to nursery and the household bills with very little play money at the end.
But I’ve chosen to do this.
I don’t want to give up my career now when I was at the peak of it prior to maternity leave.
I’ve worked too hard. I’ve put in too many hours to just hold my hands up and step down.
Because in a couple of years, Ella will be at pre-school. Then actual school.
What do I do then? If I’d chose to leave the workforce, I’d be back in a position where I could go full time and not have to pay the nursery fees.
After discussing this with my OH, we are both acutely aware that the next couple of years are going to be hard financially.
But it won’t last.
Plus, we’ve struggled and survived on my maternity pay this year. We can make it through the next couple of years.
If I look back to November last year when I was twenty weeks pregnant, the time has flown over. I now have an eight month old.
Next November, I’ll have a twenty month old. Nearing that gap to fifteen hours free nursery care. Which will certainly ease the burden.
So I know I can do this.
I think maternity leave is the hardest part. You’re left alone to deal with this baby day in, day out, with little help and lack of money.
But come weekends and trips away, with the OH, family and friends – I don’t feel the stress and burden anymore. And bizarrely, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my KIT days. They’ve been welcome breaks.
I’m not saying this is what everyone should do – far from it. Every family set-up and circumstance is different. This isn’t a bash at parents who stay at home or work part time. It’s simply what I’ve chosen to do and I’ve found a book that’s supported my thought process.
This post is in case there are any like minded people out there struggling to come to a decision. I want them to read this and know it’s OK.
Sheryl broaches the subject that us women are often the breadwinners in our generation. So we do have to go back full time. Which is good. However, we’re penalised with nursery fees.
This was my case but I’m actually taking a cut when I go back to my new role. However, it’s still a promotion – and a development opportunity. I’m still in the game.
Sheryl’s point though is that if there was more help with childcare, more women would go back full time. For some families, it’s just not cost efficient to do so.
And I get that.
But what if those women really wanted to go back to work? That they were clever, hard-working and had ambition and drive?
Not only is it them missing out on bettering themselves and in turn bettering their families, but businesses are missing a trick. They are effectively losing out. Losing a strong member of staff simply because they can’t afford the childcare.
This is something that the government needs to look into and help with funding nurseries. But that’s a different topic for a different day.
However, Sheryl’s stance on this is that women mistakenly drop out of the workforce as their salary barely covers childcare. She promotes a different way of thinking. That we should measure the cost against our future salary rather than our current.
And with that in mind, I’m more than happy to go full steam ahead of working full time.
Sheryl discusses childhood bossiness and the neighbourhood. Looking back, I had similar drive. As an eight year old, I used to dance on our driveway with my sister and our friends.
Our favourite song to dance to was Two Unlimited’s ‘Get Ready For This’. I know. How cool were we?
I went so far as to type up tickets (on a typewriter too – no computers in those days) on yellow or green paper. Then we would march around the neighbourhood and sell them to people. To come and watch six girls in crop tops and cycling shorts dance.
And people actually bought them.
Could you imagine if we did that in this day and age??
Suffice to say our parents marched us straight back to return the money.
But looking back, you could say it was the start of business thinking.
When I was ten years old, I bought jewellery making kits and pulled together some earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
I packaged them and marketed them as ‘GG’s Gems’ and sold them at fayre’s at the local community centre.
Why I’ve never pursued this little trait I’ll never know but my god I wish I’d gone to University and done English/Journalism or Business and Marketing.
Never mind. I suppose it’s never too late.
My point being is that Sheryl Sandberg had a similar streak and ‘bossiness’ about her. Now I am no way comparing myself to her at all (I wish!) but her point is that it’s not bossiness as a little girl. It’s leadership qualities coming through.
And I’ve never seen myself as a leader. But maybes at this point in my life, it’s time to become one. Especially through the eyes of my little girl.
I want her to look up to me. To see her mammy working hard but playing equally as hard. Show her independence and drive. That mammy enjoys using her brain and contributing financially. See her mammy happy as she has a healthy balance in life.
And lead her to strive for that same well-being.
Leadership is also a quality to look for and nurture in little girls of our own. Which I’m going to do with Little Miss E.
Sheryl points out that thriving marriages appear to be ones where both parents work full time and have careers as well as children. There’s less guilt and good mental health. Some data also suggests that two working parents outside the home are advantageous to a child’s development – especially girls.
I agree with this statement for my set up. I’m used to being extremely independent – working full time, having my own money and coming and going as I please.
To say this has been turned upside down this year is an understatement. I’ve had to be dependant on someone else, had very little money and my schedule is dictated by a small human.
Who wouldn’t look back on their former selves with envy? Of course parenthood and maternity has probably been the hardest year of our marriage. So I’ll be welcome of a level playing field come January.
Like I said before, there’s no question about my love for my child. I just know exactly what I want out of life and Sheryl Sandberg has shown me I can get it. Being a mother does not prevent me.
In fact, it fuels me. I’ve discovered a drive I’ve never had before.
I’m more determined than ever.
Caroline O’Connor refers to herself as a career loving parent instead of a working mum.
And I love this title.
From now on, I will refer to myself as a career loving parent. A woman who loves business and works to better herself as well as her family.
Like Beyonce says:
Who Run The World.
Where you can grab a copy of Lean In:
Love Missuswolf xxx
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