Five Things I Have Learnt Since Returning to Work

Woman Working in the Hearst Accounting Office by Peter Stackpole
As regular readers of this blog know, I have recently begun paid work outside my home for the first time in over ten years. The last two weeks have been both exhilarating and terrifying. Fortunately, I only work school hours from Monday to Thursday, so I still have plenty of time for family life. I thought I'd share some of the things I have learnt over the past fortnight.

1. I need to get up early, which means going to bed earlier: In the mornings I have to feed the family breakfast, clean up, shower and dress myself and ensure everyone else dresses themselves, and make beds, all before I leave the house at 8.30 am. This requires some discipline. I can't do it all if I haven't had enough sleep, so it's lights out by 10 pm on work nights.

2. I need to be organised the night before
: Each night everyone makes their own lunch and pops it in the fridge. We make sure the house is tidy before we go to bed. In particular, I ensure that school clothes and shoes are in the right spots to be easily found in the morning. I don't have the luxury of a 15 minute shoe hunt!

3. I am capable of absorbing a great deal of information very fast
: After 4 children I thought my brain had turned into mummy-mush. It turns out that it hasn't. The first week at work was extremely difficult and overwhelming but already things are starting to fall into place. I still have lots more to learn, however, as the work I am involved in is very complex and challenging.

4. I can only do so much and can't blame myself for not being a Supermum: I'll let you into a little secret; our bathrooms haven't been properly cleaned in almost two weeks. I'll try to do them tomorrow (my day off), but if that doesn't happen, we'll survive. Tomorrow night we're going on a Scouts family camp for the weekend, so if the cleaning doesn't happen tomorrow, it'll have to wait another week till I get my next day off.

5. This is the most work I ever want to do
: Discussions about career development and my ambitions turn me cold. I am very happy with my part-time, 24 hour-a-week job. Any more than that and my family life would suffer. If I can't work hours that suit me, then I won't work at all. We were a one-income family for many years and I'd do it again in a flash if I needed to.

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