Going back to work after being on maternity leave for a while? Here are 13 things you can pretty much count on…
1. One or more of your children will get ill. Really ill. A sick bug, chicken pox, a mystery virus – whatever. They’ve been incubating it the whole time you’ve been off work, and storing it up for the week you return just so you’re forced to have that conversation with your boss as early as possible.
2. If you’ve gone part-time, you’ll realise within 2 weeks that you are, in fact, still doing a full-time job. Just really badly.
3. That said, you will be ten times more productive than you used to be. Let’s just say anyone who can book a doctor’s appointment while simultaneously removing part of a rice cake from a small child’s nose and eating a slice of (burnt) toast can handle more than one task at a time.
4. You will close the front door some mornings and pray to God this isn’t the day it burns down and the fire brigade have to break in, because they’d probably have to call Social Services to report the squalid conditions.
5. You’ll get to the office at least once (a month) and realise you still have the toddler’s Thomas The Tank rucksack, while your own handbag is nowhere to be found. Those notes from yesterday’s meeting? They’re being ‘coloured in’ as we speak. With your best mascara.
6. You will have a really low tolerance for long meetings, office jargon and general work-related BS. There are a limited number of hours to get in, get stuff done and get out. Ergo, please choose someone else to ‘bounce an idea off’.
7. On the other hand, you will relish the chance to talk to grown-ups about important things. Like what everyone’s wearing to the Christmas party and if it’s OK for adults to buy Justin Bieber’s new album. (Asking for a friend.)
8. You’ll feel the daggers in your back every day at 5pm when you have to shoot out the door to pick up the kids. And you’ll really regret feeling exactly like that towards your colleagues who had kids before you.
9. You will get your first pay packet and suddenly feel very, very rich. Yes, you’re still in your overdraft. But there hasn’t been any action in the ‘paid in’ column for a very long time. This probably calls for a pretend takeaway curry from Sainsbury’s.
10. You’ll dress way smarter than you ever used to, to counteract the fact you’ve basically worn your dressing gown for several months.
11. You’ll have to change those clothes before you leave the house most days, due to vomit/toothpaste/Weetabix-related accidents.
12. You’ll put things in your kids’ packed lunches that you’d never have dreamed of back when they were organic-fed, Annabel Karmel-weaned babies (or at least the first one was). Hey – there’s calcium in Dairylea Dunkers.
13. You will feel a new solidarity with stay-at-home mums, even though it feels like everything you read these days is trying to pitch you against each other. That’ll be because you know first-hand what it’s like to be at home with the kids 24/7. And when people refer to your time ‘off’ as a break, you kind of want to punch them in the face.