In search of that never ending holy grail….. a work life balance

For those of you that don’t know me, I have a very hectic job. Work life balance is the long talked about rarely achieved goal.

Before I had a baby an average day would be 8am until 7pm (9 – 5.15 are my contracted hours). During busy season that became 8-9pm, at least. The funny thing about that is I was so accustomed to it that it doesn’t sound that bad. WHAT WAS I THINKING!

An added blessing of having a child is perspective. If I get home late and I look at him peacefully sleeping I regret having missed a day of playing with him. He is growing so fast that there are not many of these days in the grand scheme of things.

Coming back from leave was hard. The guilt I had about walking out the door at 4.30 was awful! Despite arriving in before 8 and working most of my lunch break. A year in and I am finally used to walking out. I start at 7.30 and run out the door at about 4.30 each day. I am also a much more efficient worker as I just have to be. No chatting in the kitchens, just head down for the day.

If things are hectic I work during my evenings too and to be fair, probably more evenings than I should work. I wouldn’t say it’s a great work life balance. More work less balance. But it’s so much better than before.

I will keep trying to find a better balance as I keep telling myself:

Work to live, don’t live to Work!

And the minute I see my little one, all guilt just floats away! ūüėć


Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror

Our little one is about 20 months now, the reason I still use months is the rate of development at that age is phenomenal.

He is now full of chatter, and starting to use phrases and not just stand alone words. The development is fascinating to watch. At this age kids are sponges and just seem to take everything in. This is both good and bad. It has really highlighted to me what phrases I use. And the funny thing is he uses them in an identical way, so you can really see yourself being reflected back.

There are two phrases that I hadn’t realised I use so much that always make me smile. The first is the word “now”. I hadn’t realised how Irish it is. “Now there’s your water”, “now there’s your dinner” or in it’s simplest form “now” to signify I have completed whatever I was doing. When our little one puts my glasses on the table to protect them while playing all I hear is “now mammy, all better”. ūüėā

The other phrase I use is “see ya” when I say goodbye to anyone. I got a great video yesterday of my little one saying see ya.

It’s so strange to hear your own phrases mirrored back at you. It certainly is making me think a bit more about what words I use. But it is equally the most proud moment as I see him take everything in and learn.


Taking that big leap…. our first holiday as a family

I actually started writing this blog 4 months ago, and only now am I finally getting to finish it. It’s been a busy few months.

Taking our little one on his first adventure was so exciting, and terrifying all at once! Well I exaggerate a little, while we had been away before, we had never ventured outside of Ireland out of fear of taking our little one on a plane. However it was coming up to my Erasmus reunion, which I really wanted to go to. I didn’t like the idea of leaving my husband at home with the little one as we are doing far less things together in general. We debated not going but eventually on a brave day, I just booked us flights and acommodation saying let’s just try. ūüôā

My bravery didn’t last long, I spent the week before the holiday in fear, cursing my bravery and wondering why we didn’t just decide to stay at home.

Our flight was a 7.30am flight, meaning we were up at 4 to get out in time. We felt so cruel waking our little one up so early. We planned a quick nappy change and transfer to the car in the hopes he would fall asleep again. But he was wide awake. We had the buggy for him and also a sling. I carried him around in the sling through security, which was great. We didn’t have to take him out of the sling and were aloud to walk right through the metal detector together.

He loved the airport and ran around the place until our flight was boarding. Thankfully this meant he was tired on the plane. Taking off was exiting for him and he loved exploring the plane. But very quickly got tired and fell fast asleep in my arms for about an hour of the flight, which we were so happy about, especially as he had not slept in my arms in 6 months!

The holiday as a whole was a huge success, he loved being somewhere new and playing with mummy and daddy every day. We were so happy we just bit the bullet and went as it all went so well.

If your contemplating an abroad trip, be brave and just go for it…… ūüėä

Back to work, exhausted, miss him already, settling in, Sickness, Uncategorized, What will make me happy

My return to work

It’s been way too long since I last wrote, primarily because the last 6 weeks have just been a whirlwind. I am back in work roughly 10 weeks (but who is counting) and in the time we have had 1 stomach bug, one vomiting bug, countless colds and coughs and one particularly bad virus.

At the same time I have faced a pre-busy season in work. I am an auditor by trade, so I work in a very male dominated industry. There are not many mommas at my level right now (actually I am the only one at my level but there are a few above and below). To put it into perspective, the department has 200 people, so it’s not a small department!

Finding the right work life balance is so hard! Before my little one arrived, I could easily do on average 12 hour days, ramping that up in busier periods and working my weekends. But I have had a major shift in priorities. I now not only have mothers guilt but guilt I let my team down in work too! I am in charge if pickups from Creche. So I go in early and leave early. If I miss a pick up as I have late meetings, the guilt I feel is just awful. And it’s not just that, it’s that I miss my little one.

I was hoping to hold off writing this post until I had all the answers, until I had achieved the perfect balance and I feel I could provide people with great advice. But the reality is, there is no perfect balance.

I have been stressing over trying to get this balance right, but in the last two weeks I have come to the conclusion that you can’t really have it all. But the important thing is to know what you need to prioritise at different times.

When I feel the guilt, I try and ask myself what will make me happy. Will attending this meeting make me happy, will getting to creche make me happy, will meeting my deadline make me happy? A happy momma is a happy family. A happy worker is a more productive worker. So what will really make me happy????

It changes and flexes every day. But that’s ok too. Achieving things in work is important, but so is being there when your baby needs you.

A sicky baby

Some things I have done that help me:

1) Get a cleaner – you have enough to be doing working and looking after a family, so getting help with the big cleaning jobs is so important

2) be disciplined – I block off my calendar when I am due to go, to avoid meetings going into it.

3) when you feel the guilt, check in and see what makes you happy

4) when you see issues coming up, raise them early, you know when things will become unmanageable!

Finally remember, we are all human, and we are doing our best. That’s all we can do!


My first day back in work, this is going to be emotional….

While today is my official first day back to work, I have attended 2.5 training days in the last 3 weeks. The first training day I was very upset leaving. But as my amazing family were babysitting and I was getting updates, I didn’t feel too bad, surprisingly. The rest of my training days went fine. I wasn’t emotional leaving and just looked forward to the thought of getting home to my baby.

Seeing as today daddy is watching our little one, I thought I would be fine leaving. But actually I am a rollercoaster of emotions. From the moment our little one woke (at 5.45, waaay too early) he was reaching out for me. I brought him into our bed for a snuggle and bottle and all he wanted to do was snuggle into mummy and stroke my face. I went to get up for a shower and he got a little upset, despite daddy being right next to him. It just felt like he knew!

That was the moment my emotions got the better of me. As I ran out the door afraid I would miss the bus, I tried not to focus on the tears rolling down my face. Hopefully people on the bus will just mistake it for rain water!

As I sit on the bus typing this, I get a snap of our little one playing with his cars, as happy as ever. I just gotta take a deep breath, pop a smile on my face and hope that the day will fly by!

Baby, Gentle Birth, GentleBirth, Labour, Uncategorized

My positive birth experience

I have spoken a bit about my labour preparation in a previous blog post on Labour Рwhy women fear the big day. With so many negative birth stories being put out there, I wanted to do a post on my positive birth experience.
I was due on the 29th of December. Being due so close to Christmas, there was a real feeling in the hospital of doctors trying to kick start a few labours early, or at least that is how I felt when I was offered a sweep (where the doctor/midwife will try to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from your cervix) at my 38 week check-up.¬†I was surprised to be offered the procedure as it’s typically undertaken once you are overdue and I didn’t feel there was a good reason for this medical intervention so I declined it. I¬†felt that¬†my baby would come when he was good and ready but just in case, I started drinking my raspberry leaf tea (2 cups a day) from that evening onwards.
Exactly 1 week later, I woke up at 5am with what felt like my waters breaking. Not wanting to call the hospital too early, I thought I would go back to bed for a couple of hours, after all, it was 5am. Once I got into bed I felt some mild contractions starting (in the form of period pains). At 6am I rang the hospital and the midwife told me I had to go in to get checked out (even though I felt I was only in pre-labour and wanted to labour at home). She suggested I come in but not to rush and to have breakfast and a cup of tea before I went anywhere. So I did just that, had some raspberry leaf tea, ate some breakfast and had a shower. We finished packing my bag with our last minute items and headed for the car. It took me a while to get out of the house as the surges seemed to be coming fairly strongly at this point but we were on the road by about 7.45am. I checked with a contraction timer and the surges were lasting 55 seconds every 2 minutes. So the 25 minute journey to the hospital was not comfortable.
The walk from the car to the hospital seemed to never end, with my constant starting and stopping. I had 2 big gushes of my waters right outside Holles Street hospital at the lovely black railings. We got admitted to the hospital and brought to a delivery suite. Being a bit disorganised,¬†my birth preferences¬†weren’t written down¬†but my husband explained our preferences in detail. The midwife was very understanding of our preferences and happy to take them all into account for the labour. There was no continuous monitoring at all, rather intermittant monitoring to check baby was doing ok. The only time I was lying on my back was for my initial examination, which showed I was 1 cm dilated (it was 9am at this point).
After labouring on my hands and knees against the bed while my husband collected our things from the car, the midwife suggested I get into the shower to help with the surges, which I thought was a great idea. By the time I got out of the shower 15 minutes ¬†later I was having the urge to push. Holles Street like to examine you every 2 hours to check dilation but the midwife¬†waived¬†further examinations given the signs of pushing. In my head I kept telling myself my affirmations from my gentle birth app, knowing my body knew what it was doing. I didn’t take any epidural or request one, as I felt I could do it myself.
For the pushing phase I was in¬†my own zone.¬†I couldn’t really communicate much with people, though I was aware of what was happening, I just couldn’t really¬†concentrate on anything other than each surge. My husband¬†expertly spoke on my¬†behalf the whole way through, ensuring our¬†birth preferences were remembered.¬†I laboured¬†on my hands and knees and also my side, following the midwife’s instructions. I did use the gas and air for a handful of breaths, but I couldn’t really use it as¬†breathing through a tube while¬†trying to take big breaths is practically impossible.¬†At this point, there was a lot of coached pushing, which was not in our original plan, but I felt that given how strong my surges were, I would just go with it.¬†I pulled back a few times taking breathers when I needed them. Aside from an eagerness to use coached pushing, the midwife was great and worked well with me and my husband to follow our preferences.¬†With the¬†help of my amazing husband and our lovely midwife, my beautiful ¬†little boy was born at 11.38 am, only 2.5 hours after labour was established.
The experience of labour was extremely empowering and I think my best achievement to date. The preparation that myself and my husband did with the gentle birth class with Melanie (see link to her website here) and the gentle birth app was the best thing we could have done. Going into the labouring process, I felt that I was ready and well prepped for my marathon, which turned out to be more like a 10km race given the full process just took 6.5 hours from initial contractions to birth. And my beautiful little boy was the best early Christmas present I could have asked for.