Balancing Act … Unevenlemming


I have been fascinated by the reactions that people have had to me when I was on maternity leave, when I was getting ready to go back to work, and now that I am back at work. I find that some people are very judgemental about how they expect families to work. Well, I’ve got news for you everyone, we’re all different, we all have different needs and that is one of the amazing things about us.

My aim is to share the stories of families of all different types and spread the word that we are all playing a #BalancingAct to get through and raise our little people the best way we can. Let’s celebrate the diversity between our families, let’s not judge each other.

So, this week it’s over to Helen at Unevenlemming.

1. Tell me about your family

I am Helen (32), I have a husband of 4 and half years and my little girl, Bethany who is 9 months old.

Helen Gray

2. What was your job/position before you started your family?

I was a PA and senior receptionist/admin in a dental practice for two years after 13 years of retail management.

3. What was your work-life balance like?

I was constantly busy, it was a NHS practice that was constantly busy from the lines opening at 9am to the moment we closed at 5pm (with the phone still ringing AFTER we closed them). The boss I was a PA for also kept me extremely busy and it was rare for me to leave on time. I was stressed and exhausted, I used to lie in on weekends and do the bare minimum cleaning I could to keep things ticking over. It was also the best job at I had, at the least I had weekends off which is unheard of in retail.

4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?

As I was stressed I was informed that I had to leave early or be written off so at 7 and half months pregnant I was on leave. I was bored, so very bored as well as tired, I had been in poor health most of the pregnancy and wasn’t letting up for the end. I rested and enjoyed the time I had left.

When Beth was born, it has flown past. I initially planned to go back September as my husband lost his job during my pregnancy, we sold our house and moved into the annex flat to next to my in laws (thankfully they do live off premises during the week so it does work). We did well on our house sale and husband got a job 15 minutes from home so it was agreed to extend my leave until end of November.

I have missed aspects of work, I miss the conversation and the structure of the day. I also miss the challenges that work can bring. I do volunteer for the NCT committee of my district so this means I use a lot of my skills on a part time basis, this looks great on my CV as I can put this in the gaps between employment as well as some regular adult contact.

5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?

The past few weeks we sat down and looked at all the figures, after paying for childcare, travel, and other expenses. I wouldn’t cover anything at all, it’s not logical for me to return to work yet. My work have been great as I’ve been in contact with them throughout, they have said if I need any work to contact them first. I want to start looking again in 2015 but only if it is right for all three of us.

6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?

My work has changed a lot, there have been staff changes and more policy changes that I care to think about. I was also nervous of going back to work as I think it was expected that I would dive straight back into it and get on. I’m very glad I don’t have that stress anymore, I rather take the stress of Beth crying than a paients dentures gone missing any day!

7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.

Not Quite There (yet)

8. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?

To have my own income back, I’ve worked for so long I’m used to having my own money to spend, I do get ‘housekeeping’ each week, this is enough for now but I couldn’t do it forever. I like having that indepence of having my own income and the pride in earning it.

(I need some means to pay for my nail varnish addiction!)


Twitter: @unevenlemming



For all the previous posts, see the #BalancingAct page.

If you think you’d like to get involved in this feature and share your story, please leave a comment, tweet me @mamavsteacher or email me


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