Being a Working Mum with Ill Babies

This past week has sucked, big time.

And yes, for the record I refer to our pug Coco as my baby. And my actual baby is still being called my baby even though she’s technically a toddler but I’m in denial.

Not only has Adelyn been ill, but Coco also had emergency surgery on Monday morning (tip: do NOT let your husband let your dog eat leftover corn on the cob as a treat – it will get stuck in their stomach and will get messy and painful).

So both girls have been in serious need of TLC.

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Coco’s nicely on the mend and is already back to being excited for meal times and gentle walks around the block. She’s been sitting next to Adelyn at every opportunity, almost protective-like.

With Adelyn – it’s “just” a cold virus but never in the past (almost) 15 months have I been so scared for our little one. A week on from the first symptoms and she’s had a temperature rising to 40.1C and dropping to 34.6C, hours of screaming in some sort of unknown agony, dwindling to non-existent appetite and refusing to drink anything but from the boob, many calls to 111 and an early morning trip to the Urgent Care Unit.

And I was dealing with that whilst working (from home).

So why am I writing this post? I guess I just wanted to reassure other working parents out there that it is shit and scary and stressful – y’know, safety in numbers, you’re not alone, sisterly solidarity whoo!

I’ve spent the past week feeling guilty for neglecting my team, and then guilty for neglecting my girls because I was worrying about neglecting my team, ad infinitum.

I spent nights and early mornings comforting Adelyn and fretting about tasks to get done for work for the next day.

Balancing my responsibilities at work and at home has been really tough. I’ve cried more than I have in a while out of sheer frustration – it’s been terrifying to see Adelyn’s little body lose weight and keep on top of emails (and in our company, there are an inordinate amount of emails that come in).

But it’s in these tough times that you gain perspective, and it makes you so grateful for all the things you usually take for granted.

I’ve missed her smile, her laughter, her voice, her naughty curiosity about everything. Do  you have any idea how much harder it is to change the nappy of a child that is thrashing around in extreme anger at the world for giving her nasty germs?? (Actually it’s not that different from a child that wants to roll away to explore, and will loudly indicate that she will not tolerate having a clean bottom if it means she has to stay still for 20 seconds)

These are the things I’m grateful for:

  • that my company allow me to work from home
  • that I’ve been able to offer comfort to my baby (for us, it’s breastfeeding)
  • that Adelyn and Coco have a doting father who will cuddle and feed and nurture them given any chance
  • that I live doors down from my Mum and her partner – giving me a break from cabin fever and feeding us – I have tremendous respect for single parents out there holding down a job with a sick little one – this past week would’ve been near impossible without them
  • that my dad came to cook a nutritious meal for us all after hearing that the girls were poorly
  • that I have some truly lovely friends out there checking in on us, giving advice and sending love
  • the NHS – like, seriously. From pregnancy, to birth, to providing support and care for our ill bubba – they’re amazing.
  • the discovery of the Miffy cartoon (on the Tiny Pop channel) – we’ve finally relaxed our NO TV thing when Adelyn stopped screaming, pointed and said “buh-buh” (that’s “bunny” to you and I) – the first time we’d heard her voice in days.

So here we are, it’s Easter Sunday and we think (hope) our little Miss A is finally recovering.

I would be so interested to hear tips on coping from fellow parents/care-givers – comment away 🙂

Fully deserve all the Easter chocolates in the world after this week.

Happy Easter y’all!

Kx

 

Peak Mum Moment

I wanted to write an inspirational post in honour of it being international Women’s Day. Y’know; about being proud to be a woman and making a difference etc etc. 

What happened though was that I had the  messiest, most difficult time feeding my very own little lady her dinner tonight. She insisted on poking her tongue out after every other mouthful and basically made the action of washing her hands in her food bowl before throwing said hands in the air thus creating a confetti effect of macaroni bolognese. 

And then I had to jump back into work mode, as I’ve been working from home today. 

Oh and I cooked dinner.

HAVOC!!


Being a working mum ain’t easy. Being a working mum and working from home is like…the ultimate test of nerve, wits and patience haha…

I’m grateful that my other little (pug) lady was around to help me clean (read: eat) up the mess. 

I’m grateful that I have my own home in which to be a working mum within.

I’m grateful to have been blessed enough to have a little one, and to have the opportunity to raise a sassy, amazing little girl. 

I’m grateful for my own sassy, amazing mum. 

And I’m grateful for marrying an incredible man who supports me in my every effort to do awesome things. 

Peace and much love to all!

Kx

Baby Weaning Recipe: Creamy Chicken & Courgette

I’m going to be honest here and say I’m not finding it easy to balance all of the different responsibilities I have now, in y’know, life.

Mum. Wife. Daughter. Colleague. My time to just be in my own head to blog has been minimised to “if and when Adelyn naps at the weekend and I’m not catching up on sleep” (i.e. not all that often).

There’s a pressure I’m putting on myself to give both Adelyn and Work my full energy as I’m invariably in the presence of one or the other, so it involves lots of rushing around and many attempts to ensure efficiency.

I just woke up from a 1.5 morning nap of my own (she’s still going) and was stunned to see how much brighter my complexion looks just thanks to getting some more damn sleep. Ahhh…

And yet – I am still diligent about making food for Adelyn. Even though at the grand age of 1 she can eat what we eat, just a bit more smooshed up, I’m still preparing meals for the week for her so that I know she’s got home-cooked lushness even when I’m working.

This meal came about as a result of having a bunch of odds and ends in the kitchen, brought together in a moreish garlicky white sauce. It did involve a few pots and pans to have things on the go at the same time but the end result is both nutritious and comforting – Adelyn couldn’t get enough!

Ingredients:

1 potato, peeled and cubed

1 chicken thigh, skinless & boneless

1 courgette, washed and finely grated

2 florets of broccoli

1 small clove of garlic

1 tbsp sweetcorn, chopped

15g butter

15g plain flour

350ml milk

  • Preheat the grill and put a saucepan of water on to boil.
  • Lightly oil a roasting tray then grill your chicken thigh for about 12 minutes, turning over halfway through.
  • Put the potatoes and broccoli into the saucepan and boil for 10mins till soft, then drain and leave to cool slightly.
  • Get a small saucepan and just lightly stir-fry the grated courgette for a couple of minutes, so that it’s softened slightly.
  • To make the white sauce (and I might have my suggested amounts a bit off above as I tend to make this by eye, so I do apologise and will update once I get a better handle on the amounts!) get another sauce on a medium heat and melt your butter in it. Add the flour gradually, stirring all the while. It’ll “honeycomb” – i.e. bubble slightly and resemble honeycomb. Take it off the heat so that you can then better control the viscosity as you gradually add the milk to the pan – keep stirring to minimise it clumping too much. You should end up with a mixture of the consistency of decent custard.
  • Finely grate the clove of garlic straight into the mix, along with your chopped sweetcorn, then pop back onto a medium heat to thicken a bit more so you have a creamy, thick texture going on. Season with a little black pepper if you feel so inclined.
  • Now to combine everything. Lightly mash the potatoes and broccoli mix, then add the courgette. Pour in the white sauce and give it a stir to combine. Tear the chicken into fine strips with your fingers and just break or chop into little pieces.
  • Then it’s up to you if you need to blitz it to a puree, blend it to a chunkier consistency (as in the photo above) or leave as is if your bubba has taken to chewing!

My First Day Back At Work

Last Pre-Working Mum Selfie

Let’s live-write this experience, shall we?

0104 – crying for milk feed. Mmmm sleepy cuddles.

0244 – crying AGAIN. WTF not even two hours since last feed. Remind self to treasure sleepy cuddles. Can she sense she’s about to be getting less milk?

0304 – what I should wear for my first day back…?

0525 – can hear her mewling. Go back to sleep baby it’s 35mins too early and I’ll miss you but I’m not ready for cuddles yet.

0555 – KS asks me what time it is. Then we ponder the merits of calling in sick. (Note to employers – I’M SO JOKING)

0610 – marvel at the luxury of being able to get ready without an audience as MiL takes Adelyn and KS has gone to make his breakfast.

0614 – bring her back upstairs to keep me company anyway (Adelyn, not the MiL). Contemplate dressing smart for first day back but it’s cold out so double leggings and slouchy jumpy it is. Jazzing it up with some hoop earrings that I can actually wear today without fear of being yanked.

0640 – sit down for breakfast and entertained watching someone else deal with the squawks/spoon swipes/when-she-pushes-food-back-out-by-sticking-out-her-tongue.

0655 – bye bye to Papa. Commence play time!

0725 – getting sad again. My “little sister” at work tells me she’ll make baby crying sounds in the office if I miss Adelyn too much. Makes me smile. Must remind self to live in the NOW and not mope.

0748 – OWW forgot I had hoops on till Adelyn made an enthusiastic grab at one during cuddle.

0800 – MiL says I can go get dressed now. Have to explain that I am dressed. She manages to keep face neutral.

0830 – cry my way through putting Adelyn down for her morning nap. She looked at me like I was crazy – this was actually helpful. Breaks my heart to think of her waking up and finding I’m not there. Oh god want to cry again FFS.

0845 – nearly miss the train. For once am grateful for Southeastern Rail delay. Looking like slightly deranged bag lady with my layers and puffy red eyes.

0859 – just realised have got my headphones on but not actually playing any music. This doesn’t bode well for my attention span.

0907 – ugh this feels like a break up where you start crying at anything that reminds you of them. Should probably turn off James Bay’s sad songs. Geez. Ooh Bruno Mars can cure all blues! 

0915 – have been back to office many times over my Leave. First time coming back in as official Colleague – daring to let myself feel excited at being part of a Team again. Get your game face on – LET’S DO THIS

0919 -£6 effing 20p for a peak time single?!?!! WTF.

0922 – quick check in bathroom to make sure am less deranged looking.

0930 – let the work begin!

1045 – sweetest hubby sent flowers to the office for my first day – such a thoughtful surprise.

1430 – interesting sitting through training sessions for tools I helped create or processes I helped develop haha

1625 – full on refresher day. Knackered. Must get Outlook and Skype set up again.

1630 – ooh where’d that Pandan cake come from?

1645 – 10,144 emails. Actually less than expected considering it’s a year’s worth. 

1650 – Marked all as read LOL

1657 – Time to leave for train. Huh I can’t zip up my coat – boobs have apparently gotten that full

1658 – hah can still do the 75 steps at Waterloo East *victory dance*

1723 – Good Lord this feels like the slowest train ever.

1753 – home

REUNITED! (I swear she was happier about it than she looks)

Kx

Mental Preparation for Becoming A Working Mum

Experiencing mixed feelings about my impending return to the workforce, having taken the full year off to spend with our daughter…

Intrigue surrounding how I’ll find stepping back into a fast-paced world of commuting and out of the Baby Bubble (even though I love being in it).

A cold, dark pit in my stomach at the thought of missing out being witness to her new discoveries.

Excitement to be able to be part of something “grown-up” and then immediate guilt for having to focus on anything other than my baby girl.

I had read somewhere once that if you’re 80% sure that you think you might like to go back to work, to just go for it as there’s never right time to return. Just like there’s never a right time to have a baby in the first place. It happens; you make it work.

Just like I buy nice gym clothes to lure me into working out, I’m beginning to amass pretty stationary so that I am even more incentivised to work just so I can make use of them.

Consider – “Why Are You Doing This?”

As a woman and a mother, I want to be a strong, female role model for my daughter and to me, that means being the best version of myself for my family. I’m confident in myself as a Mother, now to regain my confidence as an individual.

Right now, I have the chance to have “Me” time back and to develop myself personally (my company are super big on this). Also y’know, money to buy her ridiculously fabulous outfits and chic toys.

Whatever your reasons, let it be for the greater good of your family.

BE RATIONAL

I’ve found listing out my fears and then telling myself to Be Rational has helped me to stay focused. It’s something that we practiced in the Natal Hypnotherapy classes to dispel any Birthing fears the group had.

If you’re thinking about going back to work, I hope that this exercise will help you too.

Here are some of mine:

I don’t want someone else raising her

There’s an amazing bond, especially between mother and child, this won’t be misplaced just because you have someone else take care of them. If anything, you’ll be giving your little one an opportunity to become more independent and think about it – parents don’t see sending their kids to school everyday as “someone else raising them”.

I’m having to very carefully consider the childcare options at the moment as this will influence her development, but ultimately we as parents will be the ones responsible for raising her with solid values.

Worried I’ll be tired all of the time

Well, you’ve probably just spent the best part of a year (and more actually if you count the insomnia and discomfort of the 3rd Trimester) having subpar sleep so if anything, you might be better rested by dozing on your commute haha.

Housework?! Cooking?! How? When? HOW???

I’ve been told by many people that having a cleaner is a worthwhile expense for a busy family – if this is something that you can budget for then why the heck not.

Otherwise, it’s down to sharing the housework with your partner. Ask for help. But also reset your expectations – the place doesn’t need to be sterile but it does need to be safe for the family.

When it comes to getting food on the table after a day at work – this is one of my husband’s biggest fears. I think we’ll try a combination of bulk cooking at the weekends combined with leaning heavily on Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals…

I don’t want to miss out on anything

This one I’m struggling with. It’s the sacrifice that a working parent has to make as part of being away from your child. If you have a good person looking after your little one though, they should be keeping you in the loop (though maybe have your phone on silent).

I’m fortunate enough to be part of a supportive company who are allowing me to have time to work from home and condensing my week as I make the transition to being a Working Mum – so thankfully I’m not in a cold turkey position! I’m fairly sure the separation is usually harder on the Mum than the Child at this age…

And I must remember that the time you get to spend with your family should be time you spend with your family – not with your focus half on your emails/the TV etc.

So whilst you might not be around your little one as much as before – the very least you can offer is your undivided attention when you are off duty.

Closing Thoughts 

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We finally got around to hanging some photos on the walls, I wanted to put these in a prominent place in our home as a reminder to my husband and I of the whole reason why we make any decisions in life.

Please share your experience in the comments – sharing is caring! Kx