Recently I started back to work, albeit on a job share, after over a year off on maternity leave. My time throughout the year has unarguably been devoted to taking care of Bonnie and Isla.
I have learnt that taking care of two tiny humans is so consuming that you sometimes forget to take care of yourself. This was proven to me when the girls were four months old. I began to have my struggles and had an overwhelming feeling of guilt when others tried to step in and ‘help out’, even though the help is exactly what I needed.
I found help and comfort in the form of Prozac/Fluoxetine (it helped to take the ‘edge’ off) and began to realise that it’s important to be a little bit selfish from time to time in order to become entirely selfless for the sake of motherhood.
Accept help if and when it is offered, and do something completely unrelated to babies. Leaving your babies will probably cause more anxiety for you, than for your little lovelies, leaving them in the care of another person is going to feel a little strange, but every time you do it, you get a little more used to it, and so will they. I feel it’s beneficial for your little one to get used to not being with mummy 24/7.
I have learnt to stop caring. Leaving the house with Bonnie’s vomit on my shoulder and Isla’s snot on my jeans wasn’t always necessarily about not having the time to do a quick outfit change, for me it got to the stage where I stopped caring if my appearance wasn’t gleaming. I stopped caring if I wasn’t looking like an advocate for the ‘yummy mummy’ club. I have embraced the appropriate amount of scruffiness and feel like Beyoncé when I opt for jeans over running gear and heels over flip flops.
I have learnt that motherhood weeds out the friends who still have interest in your life from those who do not. (Yes, we’ve had a baby, or in my case babies, yes we can still do all the same things we used to but now we need one months notice alongside a very brave relative to babysit and give you time to wallow in your disgraceful hangover the following day.) I have felt disappointment from some friends and happily surprised by other friends. At the end of the day, after having kids, WE ARE STILL THE SAME PEOPLE!
I have learnt to never underestimate the restorative properties of a lovely big bubble bath. There may not be time, or money, for the spa, but leaving the baby monitor with another appropriate adult in your household, and locking the bathroom door to indulge in a hot bath, is second best to a spa day.
I have learnt that returning to work is important, even if it’s for the sole reason of talking to adults again.
I have learnt to try to get things ready the night before. Of course, this may not always be a possibility when you find yourself fast asleep on the armchair in the nursery at your babies’ bedtime (GUILTY!), but when I actually manage to replenish a nappy bag, prep their meals and snacks for the following day, set out my clothes for the morning, and the twins’ clothes (and Paddy’s if I’m feeling kind), it saves a lot of time and running about in the morning while trying to get everybody up and out for the day ahead, and yourself into work in somewhat of a professional and presentable state of dress.
I have learnt to not talk about babies all day in work. Luckily, I work with very lovely colleagues who have genuine interest in Bonnie and Isla, but even still, not everyone needs to hear about them day in and day out. People don’t need a phone waved under their nose of the latest photo of the girls (just in case they have forgotten what they look like). I would hate to think that people were being forced to feign interest in the girls in order to appease me. Just don’t be that person…
I have learnt to always remember that ‘THIS TOO SHALL PASS’. No matter what stage your little one is at, and how you are (or aren’t) coping, that every challenge, no matter how big or small, will be overcome and we will always find a way of handling things.
And the most important thing of all that I have learnt, which is proven to me when I pick up Bonnie and Isla after a long day at work and I see them so happy to see me, is that I have two very happy little ladies who love me very much, whether or not I am at home with them every single day, or if I am out for a chunk of our weeks together working.