Going into my eighth month of maternity leave I start to panic that I potentially only have four months left before going back to work. Now,I know that many mums may have gone back to work sooner than this and that some will not being going back at all. Whichever decision a parent makes as to whether to go back or not is totally personal to their circumstances and some simply love their work.
Personally, I was always adamant that I would have the full 12 months of maternity leave to spend with my baby. I never had a gap-year after A-levels or college and I felt that this would be my “year off”! Now, if someone had asked me during those first three months after BB came along whether I wanted to go back to work, I probably would have said yes, without much hesitation and would probably have asked to have gone back sooner than the 12 months. Now, that the dust has settled and I am feeling more on top of life as a mother I am a bit more hesitant. My mind is often in turmoil as to whether to go back to work full-time, in order to get as much money as possible for a more comfortable lifestyle that the whole family can enjoy, but then missing out on much of BB's continuing development (and her smiles and giggles at nothing in particular, which in turn crack me up); go back part-time, but inevitably end up doing longer hours to try and get all the work done in a shorter amount of time, and have most of the money earned be swallowed up by nursery fees, but then having more days with BB than if working full-time; try and find some work that can be done from home or just not go back to work and grin and bear the massively reduced household income. These are questions that most of us parents will face at some point and are what we are currently mulling over (with more emphasis on the returning to work in some shape or form).
Whatever the answer my Health Visitor advised me when I last saw her that children start to develop attachment anxiety at around the age of one and that it would, therefore, be a good idea to start putting BB in a nursery before then, even if just for a couple of mornings a week. So with this advice, along with Mr B's wish for me to go back to work, I dutifully got in touch with a few nurseries to arrange “viewings”. I have so far been to two and am due to visit two more which are on our short list of recommendations. Our main requirements for a nursery are for it to be somewhere that we feel comfortable for BB to be spending some time in and that the people are on our wave-length. It needs to be either close to home or close to either of our work for quick collection and/or short travel time on journeys. Beyond that I feel I just need to go to a few and see which “feels” like us and then bring Mr B along to my favourite two.
The first nursery I went to is part of a chain and seems to have lots of systems in place for babies' and children's development and is in a purpose built building, without it feeling too austere. It actually felt happy and clean and as if there was plenty going on. Despite this, after just a few short minutes of settling BB in the baby room and speaking to the kind staff and a couple of other mums who were there on settling-in days with their little ones, whilst another baby seemed to be having a marathon crying session, I broke down in tears myself. It suddenly dawned on me that my little baby would be looked after by someone else. Wouldn't need me quite so much any more. And, would probably cope pretty well too. The staff and other mums were very understanding but the tears just kept coming, whilst BB got to grips with some new found toys. I managed to sort myself out and stayed for a total of 40mins. I arranged to go back for a proper show around a few days later when it was a bit quieter and to talk things through with a member of staff. This second session was much better, for me anyway, and having had a few days to get my mind round it, I started to think about it in a positive way for BB.
Still, I think my mind is a bit of a denial phase when it comes to having to think about going back to work. Part of me relishes the freedom of being able to just get on with things and part of me just aches inside at the thought of no longer sharing my days with my little one.