The thing I dreaded most about 2016 happened and I survived. I returned to work and the world as I knew it, to my surprise, did not come crashing down.
My job was lurking at the back of my mind for months before the return became a reality. Try as I might I could not muster up any enthusiasm for it. But I put on a brave face and headed off to the office on October 4th, still in denial of the fact that this was it – my days at home were a thing of the past.
So, how have I fared as a working mother for the past three months? The plain answer is “fine”. The truthful answer is “fine, as long as I stick to my coping strategies”. And what might they be? Well, let me explain.
If you’d told me even six months ago that I would be using an Instagram hashtag to get through my working week, I would not have believed you. Not. One. Word. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Soon after arriving back in the office it occurred to me that my desk need not be grey and drab.
I began to look at it in a new light and try to find pleasure in my surroundings, as I did at home. The place I was to be spending six hours a day should reflect my personality and taste at least a little bit. A minute or two a day of taking a snap of the scene on my desk lifted my mood enough for me to find joy in the ordinary and plough on with whatever I was working on at the time.
‘Create a life you love’ is a motto I try to live by. Having brought that attitude into the office, I now feel more of a connection between the ‘then’ of my SAHM life and the ‘now’ of my working life.
Use Time Wisely
Efficiency is part of my make up. That’s probably why Germany suits me. I’ve always tried to maximise my use of time and have been good at it. But now more than ever I am conscious of making the best use of my time, whether at work or at home.
On the days I mange to get home before having to pick the children up, I throw on a wash or make myself a coffee and chat to the dog, or read a few pages of my book or pick up some groceries. It all depends on what I feel and need and how the rest of the day is looking. I rarely have more than half an hour, so I need to be clever about how I use it.
The same goes for spare time at work. If I’m waiting for a meeting to begin, I can shoot off a text to a friend or write my shopping list. On business trips I bring a magazine, book or my crochet to fill the time when I would otherwise be waiting on a plane or train. I buy a coffee and a pastry and make ‘me time’ out of delays.
Dress to Impress (Myself)
One thing I missed about being at home was dressing in my work dresses, suits and heels. A shift dress and pearls just aren’t practical when you are surrounded by children, dogs and chickens. One of the perks of being back at work is being able to slip into my tailored clothes and bring out my jewellery again.
Getting up and putting on make up, perfume and a nice outfit makes me feel a little more like settling back in to work. Slipping into my jeans and boots when I get home again puts me back in mama mode. It all helps me manage my day, cope with the change in our lifestyle and feel comfortable in my surroundings.
So now I’m signing off for tonight. Tomorrow is a busy day. Upstairs I’ll pack my magazine and some type of craft into my laptop bag, pick out my shoes, tights and dress and go to sleep looking forward to tomorrow’s ‘me time’ with coffee and a pastry on the train.