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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Facing my fears about returning to work post-baby


Sometimes I really don't look forward to socialising these days... apart from the huge faff of trying to make myself look less 'Surrey Mum' and more 'London girl about town' I usually dread trying to come up with interesting chat.

Currently, my day-to-day life revolves around trips to Waitrose, cooking baby food, going to play-groups, doing laundry (endless laundry!), cleaning the house, watching back to back episodes of In The Night Garden etc etc... So when I finally get the opportunity to socialise with actual adults (and, crucially, without babies!) I can feel a little lacking in dazzling conversation. 

What makes me clam up the most is questions about "what are you up to these days?", "when are you going back to work", "are you just planning to be a stay at home mum for the time-being?". I wish I had a slick pre-prepared answer for these questions but instead I usually mumble something about not being too sure when I will go back or what I will do but that I would like to go back at some point, which thankfully is a response so vague and boring it tends to draw this particular line of questioning to a close. 

I've loved (almost!) every minute of being at home with baby Leo for the best part of two years but I am starting to get very restless and keen to get back to work in some capacity. I always knew I wouldn't handle full time motherhood very well and I was right. I crave adult company and conversation and I would like to have a proper life purpose away from domesticity. I adore family life and I do love being at home but just not all the time. I have been panicking about what to do, confused about whether to go back into recruitment or try something different and, as usual, I have been driving myself half mad with trying to work out what I want to do with my life.

To this end I recently enlisted the services of a wonderful life coach called Lindsay. I've had three sessions with her now and we have started to really get to the root of what is holding me back and why I feel so resistant to looking for work. During our sessions I have to dig deep and confront some difficult truths about myself but I believe that's the essential work I have to do to dig myself out of my mummy rut and kick-start my work-life.

Leo is in nursery 4 half days a week at the moment so I am actually in a great place to start a job search. The only thing holding me back is a lack of self confidence which really took a knock when I left my last job after the death of my dad in 2015. My employer at the time wasn't at all understanding or compassionate and I was forced to leave. Since then I've become a mother, surely the most challenging job of all! I've embraced it and totally got on board with the crazy adventure of it all but I'm now getting to the point where going back to work feels necessary for my sense of self and for my professional future. 

If I wait until I've had all my babies (we'd like to have one more!) then there will be a huge gap on my CV of 5+ years out of work and I'm sure I'll have even less confidence about working than I do now. So I think it's important to get back to work soon and start slowly but surely taking the first few steps towards my new dreams, whatever they might be.

During my session today with Lindsay I had several 'penny dropping' moments. She proposed the idea of making it my mission to discover my passions and design my dream career as a sort of 'life project'. The idea being that I spend however many years it takes to create my dream life piece by piece. So even if I never figure out my one true calling (which may well never happen for me) then at least I have spent my life working for organisations which excite and inspire me and doing work I find really engaging. I LOVE this idea! No more stressing about needing to figure out ASAP what I'm meant to do with my whole life. Just accepting that I am a 'work in progress' and at least I'm enjoying the ride - whether I ever reach destination 'career nirvana' or not.

Another key realisation from our session is that I need to stop focusing on age related milestones and putting pressure on myself to achieve certain things before my next birthday or before I'm 40 or whatever. I've been very preoccupied with my age for a long time and I think I've blogged before about my fear around turning 30 and my great sense of disappointment in myself that I wasn't yet a successful entrepreneur or happily installed in a career I love. It's actually not helpful to try to impose deadlines on working out who I am in this world and what I want to be. That doesn't make me feel inspired or relaxed, it only brings more stress into my mind and I start to shut down. So I'm going to do my very best to forget about my age and instead just focus on searching for work I enjoy and making that my life's work.

After all, it's about the journey not the destination... right?

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