I went back to work after two glorious weeks of holiday, and oh boy did the reality of working mum life hit me hard.
To be honest, I didn’t make it easy on myself. It was my first summer holiday with an active toddler, and I was being all #yolo by letting my daughter’s routine slide.
Even worse, I was acting all #blessed that we live in a beautiful country, and we tripped all over the place, exploring our favourite places. By the end of the break my girl was sleeping in, having haphazard naps, sleeping in the car a lot, snacking more than eating proper meals (much to her joy), and going to bed later than ever before.
But hey, summertime is made for fun, right? She loved having the week before Christmas with my parents, who spoiled her terribly with ice cream, endless cuddles, and adventures at the beach. She also loved the novelty of opening ALL THE PRESENTS on Christmas Day (even the ones that weren’t hers), she loved spending time with her cousins and best friends, loved morning snuggles in bed with us, and having lazy starts to the day. It was all, “PJ’s at 10am? Who cares!”. This is how great childhoods are made. Furreal.
Perhaps even more tragic than us returning to work, was Mackenzie’s absolute indignance at having to get up early, forced back into her routine, and shipped off to daycare every day.
To add another layer of complication, Mackenzie was also moved from the “baby room” to the “juniors room” at her daycare. We’d started transitioning her before Christmas, but then taking three weeks out from normal life, and away from the rules and routines of day care pretty much undid all of that work. Our bossy wee girl had a hard time settling in and I had to get over my feelings of loss that our holiday was over, to ultimately support and encourage her to settle into her new space. We were also 100% disorganised with our routine house stuff, so yep guys, I started out the year right in my ambition to win Mum of The Year ™
All in all, that first week back wasn’t too bad, and I know for sure that the struggle was of my own doing. It was a week of reaffirming limits at home, getting back into the pace of our routine, and doing early bedtime/early wake time. Settling her into the new room at daycare took a little longer, but my husband took over the drop offs and his confidence rubbed off on her. In no time, she was back to running off before we could even say goodbye.
I shared my pain with my fellow working mums, something we all need to do from time to time, and I learnt three things:
- I’m an amateur and I should have started back in our old routine three or so days before we actually went live with the first day back to real life.
If I was good at taking advice, I’d have done this, but life is for learning and I will at least know about this for next time.
- It takes time for kids to settle back to their old routine, and it’s an inevitable pain, no matter what age they are
Babies, toddlers, primary school aged or teens? All of my fellow working mums said their kids struggled, in some way, to get back to routine.
It was the mum’s who said their kids loved the first few days back, but then hated it and never wanted to go back again once the novelty of catching up with friends wore off, who said I probably had the easier road. It was like they experienced a false sense of security thinking they’d gotten away with an easy start to the year, but then had to deal mid-week with a kiddo who was just not into the old way of doing things (like getting up at 630am every day, and not watching endless cartoons before school).
- Get your stuff together, and return to your old organisation habits. It helps with everyone’s transition.
This one is huge for me. I didn’t do a meal plan for our first week, and we weren’t up to date with the washing, or any of the cleaning. I mean, it wasn’t a total disaster zone, but I was being a bit basic by thinking that I could handle it all as well as going back to work. Luckily, my work load in that first week was sustainable, and I didn’t have to do any extra hours at night, but it was definitely amateur of us to not get everything in a good space while we had the chance. One of my friends spend the weekend before they all went back making freezer meals, and doing more meal prep than usual so she could have more downtime with her kids in that first week! That my friends, is #organisationgoals and great fore thinking by an experienced mama.
For us, it all fell on our first weekend after going back to get our lives in order, and back to our normal routine (no matter how much we all resisted it), and we were much better for it.
So, lessons learned?
Enjoy your well earned holidays. We deserve it! We all work hard, in our own different ways to make the best life for ourselves and our families. Spend quality time with friends and family, and enjoy those real human moments. Show your kids how to love life, and that rules can be broken from time to time. But for the love of all that is motherhood, make your life that little bit easier by getting prepped for that first week back!
What are your lessons learned when returning after a summer break?