Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Week As A Working Mum

I pondered over this one week for a long time.  My company had offered me a place on a one week course, fully paid and relevant to the work I was doing.

There were so many advantages of going: A change of scenery, a chance to catch up with work colleagues, a full weeks wages and possibly a new avenue for me to explore while working part time.
The main disadvantage of course is that I would need to find full time childcare for C for the whole week.

As most of you know, I currently work one day a week.  On that day my parents have C and I work in the study upstairs.  I may not be watching her all day but I can hear everything that happens and can be downstairs in the blink of an eye if there is any issue.  I am technically not "leaving" her anywhere at all.  A perfect situation!
The training course is not something I could do from home plus my Mum still works part time therefore neither part of my normal work routine was going to work here.

The natural choice for childcare was to look to my Mother in Law.  She provides regular childcare for C's cousins and I would have no hesitation leaving C with her.  However, on approaching her, we realised there was a slight problem.  For the week in question, she not only had C's 2 eldest cousins for the week (as it is the Summer Holidays and their parents work full time), but C's youngest 2 cousins as well as their parents were going away for a 5 day break just the 2 of them.  Already she would have 4 children under the age of 8 to look after that week and with C that would make 5!

In true Mother In Law style, she said she was more the happy to have C as well but I was sceptical.  Could Celeste really be in the best possible hands if those hands (and eyes) needed to be in four other places at once?  Here lay my dilemma....

I mused over my options for a few weeks and eventually we came to the agreement that I would go to the first day of the training course as a trial run and we would assess at the end of the day whether it was a workable solution for the whole week.  I felt this was a good compromise.

The night before the course, I didn't sleep well at all!  Feelings of being a bad mother and abandoning my child for my own selfish need for a break washed over me.  I know many Mothers aren't fortunate enough to have a choice and have to leave their babies in childcare everyday but for me the concept was alien and I felt bad!

Morning came and I got C up at 7am and got her dressed.  I don't usually dress her before breakfast but I felt this was one thing I could do that would help MIL out.  I gave Celeste her breakfast and quickly wolfed down my own.  Luckily there was not time that morning for worrying about things.  I kissed C goodbye and hurried out the door.  MIL said I could text as often as I needed for updates.

I was very good and did not text until lunchtime, when C should have been down for her lunchtime nap.  Everything was apparently fine. Phew!

I arrived home that evening and C seemed pleased to see me but not upset which was nice.  Apparently she had been to watch her cousin's horse riding lesson and was now doing an excellent mimic of a trotting horse while holding a pair of reins :-)

With my fears eased a bit, we agreed to give the rest of the week a go.  Watching my nieces and nephews with C, I was pleasantly surprised how gentle and understanding they were with her.  Being the youngest by a couple of years, I thought she might either be overwhelmed or that they would be too boisterous around her but she was coping fine.

From what I understand, C had a brilliant week.  On Tuesday she went to the park and played on the swings and slides, on Wednesday she went and fed the ducks, on Thursday she went swimming and on Friday she went to soft play.  If I am personally honest, this is a far more interesting week than she would have got stuck at home with me!

All in all I would consider the week a success.  I really enjoyed the course I was on.  I enjoyed catching up with work colleagues and most of all I enjoyed a week of being me, not just a mummy.  I feel confident for that one week Celeste did not suffer from not having me around.  In fact I think she had a wonderful time and it probably did her the world of good.  Having older cousins to mimic has improved her self feeding and she has learnt quite a few things she couldn't do before.

It is and was never my intention to go back to work full time but it is good to know that on the odd occasion something comes up, a situation like this can work.

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