I’ve been off work since the end of October, and I’m due to go back in July. I won’t dwell on that here; the thought of it isn’t pleasant for a number of reasons and most of them are to do with Hannah. However, when I was having one of my little wobbles yesterday, I got to thinking about what I could bring to my job rather than what I would be taking away from her. Here are a few of my thoughts (let me know what yours are…).
1. I work smarter. Note that this isn’t the same as harder, or more. To me it means that I have a fresher approach to prioritisation and that I therefore work more efficiently, using the tools at my disposition as they are really needed. I feel more confident now about deciding what needs to be done and when, and whether it needs to be gold plated or whether a quick and dirty job will allow me to get on with other things. Baby and home management basics?
2. I delegate more effectively. I don’t need to do everything and I don’t need to control everything either. Tesco can deliver the shopping. My husband can clean the loo (it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect) and I will spend time making puréed food for my daughter because I know what she needs and how much.
3. I can walk away from things that aren’t important. It’s easy for me to say now but I will be able to set aside petty issues in favour of the major stuff and at will be able to leave work where it belongs at the end of the day. My family is my world and work will always play second fiddle. A smile from my little girl would make me far happier than praise from my boss (although that will also be pleasing. If indeed it happens).
4. I can do loads of things single handed….. For the healthy minded readers of this post I mean that I am rather surprised that I can, for example, open bottles with one hand. I hope to have my eyes open to the possibility that I will discover new skills at work too.
5. I have rediscovered things I had forgotten. I am a right hander, but do certain things left handed such as pulling pints, and am ambidextrous with others such as using cutlery. I had forgotten this until I started to eat food with a fork in one hand and a baby in the other. Again, I’m rather hoping I will remember other skills that I had forgotten on my return.
6. I have more patience than I thought I had.
7. Other people have hidden talents too. They just need to be confronted with a new situation for them to be revealed. My husband is, for example, great at bathing and massaging our baby. Let’s see if I get any people to manage who I can test my theory on.
8. I’m more comfortable than I used to be with my competitors- who aren’t actually competitors at all. I’m perfectly happy with the kind of mother I am and with the way my daughter is progressing. The same will apply to my career- I will worry about me and my job rather than other people and theirs.
9. I am far more chilled out than I used to be. A former manager once told me in my annual appraisal that I needed to “change my face”. When I asked why she said it was because I “look stressed and unapproachable sometimes”. Perhaps, therefore, having a baby has given me a motherly and relaxed look that will encourage colleagues to come hither….
There will be more, I’m sure/I hope. I don’t want to go back to work; I have to. And leaving my little girl at nursery makes me feel sick. But knowing that I can bring great new skills to the workplace gives me some professional comfort after 8 months off in a climate where jobs aren’t secure, not to mention the fact that because of Hannah I will always have the best job in the world anyway.