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 from All the Beautiful Things.
1. Tell me about your family
I’m Helen, I live with my husband of nearly 5 years Adi, my son Alfie who will be 3 in May, and we are expecting a little girl anytime soon (EDD 12th April), we’re very excited if not a little anxious to be expanding our family. We also share our house with 2 troublesome cats called Winston and Louie!
(I am happy to say that Helen’s lovely little lady did arrive – you can read her birth story here)
2. What was your job/position before you started your family?
Before we started our family…… well I say started, Alfie, bless him was an unexpected, wonderful surprise that came along smack bang in my final year at University where I was studying to be a Nurse, I was roughly around 20 weeks before qualifying so as you can imagine this was a huge thing to happen at this point in my life. It’s funny what life throws at you sometimes!
3. What was your work-life balance like?
At the time of being at University my work/life balance was pretty good apart from when I was on placement which mainly involved shifts which did require some getting used to. It was quite stressful at times though as prior to starting my course I was on a pretty reasonable salary and I gave that up for a bursary which did mean I wasn’t bringing in a whole load of money, this was a very testing time for myself and my husband and add to the mix a baby on the way it was hard, really hard but thankfully we have come through the other side and survived.
4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?
No problem at all! The only thing that worried me was going back! This time around I feel so out of the loop, one of my colleague’s that I am close to is also on maternity leave and feels the same, I do keep in contact with some of my colleague’s though who fill me in on anything that’s happened or happening! I’ve only been on maternity leave for around a month so I’m slowly starting to get used to not being at work and it is rather nice!
5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?
After I had Alfie I returned to University to finish my qualification, it was one of the hardest things I had to do, not only did I have to complete 13 weeks of full time placement I had 2 major exams to revise and sit and that was probably one of the hardest things to do, revise, be a Mum, housewife and a student! It’s something that I just had to do, I would have been mad to waste 2 ½ years of studying. I had many sleepless nights, tears and melt downs but I’m pleased I persevered as in Jan 2013 I finally qualified as a Registered Nurse and it’s been my biggest achievement to date.
6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?
After qualifying as a Nurse I then had to make the transition from student to Registered Nurse, I successfully secured my dream job of a Community Nurse but the only position that they could offer at the time was full time, obviously I did snap it up as I feared the chance would pass me by but deep down I had serious concerns about how I would manage a full time position that would often have me working more than contracted and being a Mum and a wife. It’s been tough.
7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words
Tiring, rewarding, precious.
8. This might be difficult to answer, but are you happy with your work-life balance?
Initially I was ok with the full time hours but then it started to take its toll and I felt immense guilt that I wasn’t spending more time with Alfie, I missed him so much that when I found out I was pregnant I asked to reduce my hours to 30 hours, I was able to reduce in January and it helped so much, I’m hoping to return on about 3 days when I return after maternity. Now with being on maternity I’m getting the opportunity to spend more time with my boy before baby arrives which is leading to a much better balance.
9. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?
At the moment I wouldn’t change a thing, maternity leave rocks (apart from the obvious cut in pay towards the end!), I know in my head though when I return I won’t be doing full time hours.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve been enjoying my struggle for balance and my journey as a full time working Mama, then I’d love it if you could spare 2 minutes to nominate me for the Mum and Working Working Parent Blogger 2015. Click the link and follow the website through.