I was anxious but also keen to return to work. I didn’t expect there would be nothing for me to do. Yet, this is what I found on my return – and I’m spending my days begging my colleagues to give me something to do. With some result, but mostly very boring tasks that could be done without thinking. And I don’t like that. Not one little bit. Now I’m worried that if things don’t improve, I risk losing my job (again).
On the plus side (my Pollyanna side says) my working hours are working well. I have time to drop off/pick up the kids and work 6 hours without rushing (we pay the after school club and nursery, so I have to pick them up by 6pm). While £1500 fly out of the window to pay for their childcare.
However mornings are not working. I end up being incredibly stressed out every day, because L doesn’t think about what time Pallino has to be at school and is always late. And I end up stepping in and doing most of the work myself even when he’s dropping them off. So, when I get to the office I’ve already worked hard for around 2.5 hours (in case you don’t have children and don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s changing nappies and clothes, making breakfast, make sure everyone has their teeth/face/hands clean including me, preparing everyone’s school bag and put everyone in the car. All the while with a wriggly baby and an active 4yo who don’t want to collaborate because they don’t want to change their clothes, get ready or go out). And when I finish work, if I have to pick them up and put them to bed, that’s around 2.5 hours of work (see above, in reverse order, but with overtired children i.e. even less willing to collaborate). Which makes a total of about 11 hours of work per day, 6 of which spent worrying about losing it, and the remaining 5 forcing someone to do what they don’t want to do. Plus being on call every night. And some people tell me “you’re lucky” when I say that I work “only” 6 hours per day. How hard is to understand that I sacrifice a fifth of my salary because I have to, not because I want to work less. Still, in a way, I’m lucky that my employer allows it.
And just to clarify, what I’m saying applies to every parent/carer, working outside or not – the total working hours don’t change, only the setting, maybe the area of the brain that worries about work. Also, I’m not saying that I don’t like spending those hours with the children, or that it’s always a nightmare. I find ways to make things fun, and we do have good times together. But even playing or finding ways to make it fun requires a conscious effort, physical and mental.
I’m tracking my mood and I’ve recorded quite a few “bad” days, since I started working. My situation at work is a huge contributor, as I know that I feel much better when I’m busy, when I feel useful. I hope that my efforts to speak with my colleagues and make them aware that I’m available to help brings results. In the meantime, let this Blue January go to hell.