Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Guest Post by Hannah - 5 Top Tips for mums returning to work.

I can’t promise that these will make your life better, make the return to work stress and worry free but I can promise that they will help.  It also helps to have people to talk to and to know people who have been there before – I write about trying to balance being a working mum with the rest of my life on my blog Muddling Along (www.muddlingalongmummy.com)

1.        Nobody is going to remember what you did in your first week back in 6 months’ time
Don’t worry if you are running late, if you spend the whole time on the phone checking in with your childcare, if you can’t remember your password or username.  All this will not matter in a few months when you have settled back in but cutting yourself a bit of slack will mean that the first week back is less stressful than it otherwise might have been

2.       Don’t make any knee jerk decisions
Do NOT decide to give it all up in the first week.  Chances are that you’ll start to ride a rollercoaster of it being great and horrid and your emotions will be all over the place.  Instead set yourself a point in time, preferably about three months down the line, and tell yourself that you’ll not make any decisions about how its going until that point.  Chances are that by the time you hit that point, all the initial problems will have faded away and you’ll suddenly realise that either its going well and you’re back and happy or you won’t be.  And then you can decide what to do.

When I went back after Bigger was born I left it until Christmas (after starting back in September) – it was incredible, I suddenly realised that I had things under control and was back enjoying working and having not had to make a decision earlier had freed me up from worrying about whether I was doing the right thing.

3.       Make sure you have lots of pictures on your phone or in your bag
You are going to miss your baby.  Sorry but its true.  Hopefully if you have great childcare that you trust, in time you’ll find yourself not worrying about them during the working day but at first having lots of pictures will remind you.  Don’t put them on your desk but carry them with you.  This is super important if you’re carrying on breastfeeding and are going to be expressing at work – sitting looking at pictures of your baby whilst pumping will really help you express well.

4.       Wear a watch
Not only will wearing a watch mean that you know when its time to leave but looking at your watch is a subconscious sign that you have to leave that others will pick up on.  Anything that reduces down the amount of times you say ‘I have to go now’ is a good thing.  And anything that makes it easier for you to walk out of the office on time is a good thing.  If you don’t want to wear a watch or you find yourself getting caught in meetings right at the end of the day set an alarm on your phone that is the same sounds as the phone ring for about 5 minutes before you need to go – it rings, you answer it, excuse yourself from meeting and then don’t go back in and can get away.  Sneaky, yes but very useful if you have a boss that isn’t good about remembering you have commitments outside the workplace.

5.       Decide what it is that is important for you to make you feel like a ‘good’ mum, focus on doing that and ignore the rest
Is it being home for bedtime 3 night’s a week?  Or cooking lots of food yourself?  Or reading stories in the morning?  Or continuing to breastfeed?  Or making it home for tea time on a Friday?  Find something that is your priority and keep to it.  I find if I am away for more than a couple of bedtimes I need to tweak things like going in later one morning to compensate so my family life doesn’t get too far out of kilter.  As for the rest, learn to go with the flow and ignore them.

And finally get as much help as you can and ask for help everywhere.  If you can afford it, get a cleaner, do online shopping, do anything to make sure that your limited time with your child/ren is as fun as possible.  Ask for help from your mum, batch cook, accept that your house isn’t going to be particularly tidy.

And most of all best of luck – nobody gives medals to working mums and in my opinion they should, we do a great job as mums and we do a great job too!


Some great tips here Hannah. The one I like best is the first one, I have found my new employers really understanding to the fact that I have been out of the workplace for nearly 2 years and that has made my stress levels much easier in this first week. I will get my head round it all in time and like you said no one will remember my first week in 6 months time. ~ Mumra.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Chuggington? Not quite.

I have been back at work for a week, five full days. I am saving how I feel about being a working mother for another post, this one is about another issue that has arisen this week.

Since just before Tabitha was born we have lived on the South Coast a good 1hr and 45 minute train journey to London.

Tabithas Dad has been traveling to and from London every day. Every morning he gets up at 5am and is on the 6:30am train, I finally get to see him again at 8:30pm, for about an hour before he falls asleep.

This past week I have been joining him on this journey and I'm not really sure how he is still alive.

If the crap coffee doesn't finish you off, the dullness of the fellow commuters traveling alongside each other day after day in total silence and then the daily struggle of trying to just get a seat on the return journey, even though you have parted with £400 per month for your sodding ticket.

It is truly hideous, just nasty. I am depressed by the very idea that all the people around me have this as a daily routine and mortified that our move down south inflicted this on my lovely boyfriend for nearly 2 years.

I am very lucky that my taster of the commute is just that, we shall be moved into our new flat soon (I hope) and it will be over for the both of us.

I just have to pray that one day my boyfriend will forgive me for the last 2 years...

And the winner is.....

Thanks to everyone who entered the Mumra birthday giveaway!

The winners are.....

Big Blue Cuddle £50 Vouchers : Jo @2starsandaswirl

The Land of Me DVD ROM  and Activity Books : Geoblogs @Geoblogs

Sisters Guild Patchwork 'LOVE' Cushion : Liz @ACHIA_Liz

Well done everyone, enjoy!

I will contact the companies and ask them to forward you all your fabulous prizes as soon as you let me have your addresses via the email link on the top right buttons.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Guest Post by Jay Brownlee - Being a Stay at Home Mum.

I am 29 years old and a stay at home Mum to my daughter Naomi, who is exactly 15 weeks old.  My situation is a little odd, I kind of fell into being a stay at home Mum after my husband got a new job 400 miles from home which meant moving just before I started my third trimester of pregnancy.  There was no point in going to find a new job as I would only be there a matter of weeks before I left to start my maternity leave and haven't gone back to work since she was born.

That said, I always wanted to be a stay at home Mum, I love the idea that I would be responsible for bringing Naomi up, that it wouldn't be a child-minder or nursery nurse who would see her roll over for the first time(as she did today), take her first steps or say her first words and that it would be making decisions about the activities she would take part in and I would be making the decisions around discipline.  I have always thought I would be a stay at home Mum and I love it but there are challenges I possibly hadn't expected!

Sometimes I just need a break, since Naomi was born there have only been a handful of occasions that I have been away from my daughter, she has rarely been left with her Dad and partly because of the move away from family and friends she has only been left with a sitter twice, once when her Grandma came to stay and once when one of my good friends came to stay.  

I sometimes feel guilty about wanting a break, after all, this is the life I chose for myself, the job I wanted was as a Mum and now I am complaining I need some time off!  I have to remind myself this is okay, I have to remind myself that even the most pleasurable of tasks can become tiring after doing it constantly for 105 days (not that I am counting) and that would be true even if that task didn't wake you up at 3am!  I am looking at ways of getting a morning or afternoon each week that don't cost the earth, but for now this is a challenge I haven't found a way round.

The obvious challenge of being a Mum without a paid job is one of finances, this isn't necessarily such an issue for me, having suffered from mental illhealth for a number of years my husband and I have largely survived on only one income for most of the nearly 8 years we have been married, but I am happy to admit that fitting all those extra baby expenses into our already tight budget can be difficult, particularly when tax-credits and similar are being cut all around us.  That said, we are lucky to have good friends who have decked us out with all the baby equipment we could ever need and the folks at my church whose little girls are just 3 or 4 months older than Naomi keep her decked out in clothes and I find the charity shops are an amazing source of good quality equipment and clothes, so we never go short!

A final challenge is actually nothing to do with Naomi but to do with not working.  I miss my job, I loved being an administrator, and I'd like to think I was really rather good at it.  I loved making a difference (as the only paid member of staff for Aberdeen Street Pastors, an organisation close to my heart) and I loved the people I worked with.  I love that my purpose is now to bring up my child(ren) but I miss having a purpose bigger than myself and my family.

Will I go back to work in the future? Maybe.  Will it be any time soon? No, my job is here at home with my beautiful little girl, watching her laugh, roll over, walk, talk and throw tantrums!


It is lovely that you get to spend this time with Naomi, Jay. I always think if its the way Mums want things life expenses can be lessened greatly with real budgeting tactics. I'm sure we have all stopped throwing whatever we fancy into the shopping trolly and started adding up as we go around since little legs appeared in our lives! I hope you can continue for as long as you want to being a stay at home mum, it is obviously something you enjoy greatly - Mumra.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Guest Post by Helen Adams - My Return to Work.

Helen Adams writes at Being Mum to Cami and tweets as @camismum , she has kindly agreed to share her experience of returning to work after maternity leave and the decisions she made along the way.


I had my daughter two and half years ago, I took maternity leave 6 weeks early due to poor health. After giving birth to Cami I took an entire year off work and loved every minute of it. In the last 6 months I started to look for a nursery place for my daughter and this is where everything started to fall apart.

I had no idea that you needed to start looking at nurseries much earlier than 6 months in advance; I struggled to find a place and had to contact my employers to ask for some extra unpaid leave as I had no childcare. I eventually found a place to go and my daughter settled, I arranged to return to work.

I went back into the same department but in a different division with different managers and it really threw me, and sadly my manager who I got on very well with had just been diagnosed with cancer so was not around to help me settle back in and advise me of my workload. I was left with a new guy who I had never met before and to put it politely he was a drunken Scotsman who had no respect for women let alone one who had just returned to work after having a baby. He made work very hard for me and I slowly got lower and lower.

I had a nightmare on my hands as for 4 months my daughter had been really ill, she would cough all night run massive temperatures and lost loads of weight. I would constantly get called out of work to collect her from nursery, and this delightful boss used to make comments after I had left the office like “is she ever bloody gonna be here” or “What’s the point of that girl in the office?”. I got to the stage where I was not coping well and was in a constant state of worry and panic so made the hard decision to hand my notice in. I really felt torn as I had been in my job for 5 years and really enjoyed it and the people I had come to think of as friends.

Turns out I made the right decision as a week after I left my daughter was rushed into hospital with a severe chest infection and it would take her a good 6 months to get back to full health.
I tried another office job which initially went well but 5 months in I was really unhappy and made the life changing decision to quit office work for good, it has not been easy but I am finally happy. 

My daughter is still in nursery 3 days a week and I have started my own home baking cupcake company called Flour and Sprinkles, it is early days but picking up slowly. I am also Virtual Assistant for Social Media Mums, a small business that provides social media support for mumpreneurs. Michelle was a very good friend and one of my work colleagues in my old job and she approached me to work alongside her in her very up and coming venture and I felt honoured to asked and a part of so much excitement.


I am so pleased you found the right balance for you all Helen. Finding the right nursery is so important in helping get back to work and I agree it is something best done far in advance, as a nursery manager I have shown around women 3 months pregnant looking at place for their unborn child. All the best with your new ventures, all sounds very exciting! - Mumra.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Thomas and Friends DVD Review - Pop goes Thomas.

Release date 9th May 2011 RRP. £12.99

When I had a little girl I thought I had escaped the whole Thomas Tank Engine thing but no... Tabitha loves Thomas.

Personally I think its the voice over, its so calming and seductive it just draws you in and before you know it you have watched the whole episode.

When I got asked if we wanted to get our hands on a pre released copy of Thomas and Friends - Pop goes Thomas, I didn't hesitate in saying, yes please!

I will admit when it arrived it was hard to tell who was more excited Mr Mumra or Tabitha, as they both sat down to watch it one Saturday morning.

No surprises here, four new, classic, superb episodes of Thomas.

If your children like Thomas, buy it. End of.

Mumra Playlists Week 11.

My Dad used to take my brother to football matches every weekend when we were children and to compensate for this I got to have a Daddy and Daughter weekend to London every now and then.

Just my Dad and I would go to London and see a show, do some shopping and stay in a hotel, I thought it was the best thing ever!

We always saw a musical and they are special memories I will never forget. I would dream for years of being on stage in a production, however my lack of singing voice was sadly always going to be an issue.

My theme for this weeks playlist if you haven't already guessed is:

A song from a Musical.

I actually saw this one with my Mum but my love for musicals is because of my Dad so he got the big up this week! 

Mumra Playlist

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Gallery - April.

While trying to come up with a photo for this weeks The Gallery theme April, I was distracted by a tiny bundle of freshly cut hair. Instead of finding a photo I kept looking at this bundle and thinking of all the changes about to happen in our lives.

It didn't take long before I gave up realised the bundle was the photo I needed after all.

The baby curl is gone, in an attempt to encourage the hair to grow we have had the fluff cut. Right now this photo represents so many things for us; fresh starts, new beginnings, great memories and the promise of new and better things ahead.

And hopefully some bloody hair!