A Mum’s Guide to the Office Christmas Party

Some background information: my party is tonight, I used to always take the next morning off, now I don’t work Fridays but my daughter doesn’t go to nursery either

Stage 1: carry a ton of stuff to the office, various tights in case one breaks (mums are organised like that), a second outfit choice in case you’re not “feeling” choice number 1 and all sorts of makeup you never use and that you’ve had for ages.
Stage 2: strategic lunch choice as you know you won’t eat for ages and the whole “lining your stomach” thing is actually true and very needed when you have to look after a toddler the next day
Stage 3: spend the afternoon getting slightly more and more excited and wondering at what time it is acceptable to go and get ready
Stage 4: getting ready, the tradition is my office is for the girls to go and get ready Together in the biggest bathroom in the building. Every time a random person from another office comes in , they are always quite shocked by level of noise and stuff everywhere. Getting ready involves outfit choice (see above), trying to make yourself look as good as possible despite your lack of makeup application skills, the big glasses or no glasses debate and lots of laughing and “you look amazing”. Yep we all scrub up pretty well!
Stage 5: strategic drinking, my plan is always to only drink champagne and white wine and NO SHOTS. Who you sit next to is also very strategic and most importantly always aim to get the last train home, this reduces drinking time.
Stage 6 (the next morning): famous bloody last words, is it really morning? Why is there makeup all over my pillow? Of course you can watch telly whilst mummy just sits with her eyes closed drinking tea and trying not to be sick…

Working Mum Life Hacks

2 months ago I went back to work (I can’t believe I just typed that!). I thought maternity leave went by quickly, well working weeks go by even faster!

I thought I would share a few “life hacks” or tips for mums about to go back to work as a few changes here and there can really make your new life as a working mum easier!

  • My main advice would be: do not combine your first day back at work with the first day of childcare because you’ll spend all day worrying about your baby and if you’re like me, you’ll probably cry so will turn up looking a mess on your first day back! The other reason to start childcare before work is to have some time when you are neither working nor looking after your child, this is your last chance for some well-deserved “me time” for a while. Family holidays are lovely but nothing beats spending a weekday afternoon at a spa whilst everyone is at work and somebody else is picking up your baby’s lunch from the floor…
  • I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, it’s really important to have a plan for emergency childcare. Indeed s*** happens, case in point: I’m writing this from a plane on my way to my first overnight work trip and was called earlier today by the nursery to go and pick up A as she has a temperature. Thankfully Mister B is looking after her but let’s just say calls like that 2 hours before you’re about to leave for the airport add to the stress…(then your plane is delayed and that’s when you really have to take a deep breath!)
  • Get your clothes and your child’s clothes ready every night. You don’t really want to have to think much in the morning!
  • Talking of clothes, I underestimated the effect nursery can have on children’s clothes, basically they get wrecked! So buy second hand or cheap clothes that can get stained or lost, without you being bothered about it. I now separate “nursery” clothes from “nice” clothes one.
  • I was really struggling with the whole week-night cooking thing despite being quite an organised person and doing online shopping. I just couldn’t plan far ahead enough and would lack motivation after the whole “train-nursery-home-bedtime” thing that I decided to do something before our diets suffered too much (and I started spending all my money at M and S at the station!). People, there is a solution and it’s called Hello Fresh. Every Sunday evening they deliver 3 meals worth of delicious food with very clear and easy recipe cards. Each meal takes between 20 and 40 mins to prepare. I don’t have to go food shopping, I don’t have to think of what to eat and in exchange we try new foods (pearl barley anyone?), learn new techniques and eat delicious healthy food Monday to Wednesday (Thursday is Chipotle Burrito day and I’m off on Fridays so have time). I love it! The second delivery was 90 mins late but their customer service was great so I’m sticking with it for now.
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  • Stay on top of washing during the week (a washing machine with a timer helps), you don’t want to spend all weekend doing washing and those dirty nursery clothes need washing asap!
  • If you can, get a cleaner! I’d rather not buy coffee than spend Saturday morning cleaning. It’s the best 20 pounds I spend every week, I’m convinced cleaners provide one of the best value for money services around.
  • Try and negotiate some kind of flexible working arrangement, part time or at least a day working from home, I have Fridays off and it keeps me sane!

All in all, 2 months later I am happy I’m working but wouldn’t want to be doing 5 days a week, all the little things above make our lives run smoother, I also happen to have a very helpful and tidy husband, which makes a massive difference. Behind every great working woman, there is a man, who cleans the kitchen every night and never leaves his stuff lying around!

What are your tips?

First Day Back at Work

This post was originally published on meetothermums.com (http://www.meetothermums.com/blog/view/backtowork)

After taking 54 weeks off work, I hung up my maternity bra, got my nice bag out and went into panic mode as my daughter (Arabella) was too ill to go to nursery on my first day back at work AFTER A YEAR. She had started nursery full time 2 weeks before I was due back and guess what happens at nursery? Babies get sick, especially at the beginning. As a side note, I would highly recommend not combining your first day back at work with baby’s first day at nursery or with a childminder as if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up crying and feeling very emotional. There is no way I could have left her and then gone to the office. I would not have managed to concentrate and it would have been awful.  The Wednesday before I was due to go back I picked her up from nursery and she had quite a high fever. I spent the next few days coming up with “Plan B” for childcare. I don’t know why I hadn’t looked into this earlier, anyway… I then discovered there are websites set up to provide emergency childcare so I organised for a local nanny to come over on Sunday.

Come Sunday I could tell Arabella wasn’t going to be well enough to go to nursery. My husband couldn’t take the day off either (no matter what I was going to work that day!) so I came up with the genius idea of flying my mum over from France (she was actually quite excited to be coming over to see us all) as no matter how nice this nanny might be, I wasn’t really comfortable with leaving her with someone we didn’t know and if she was going to be sick for a few days it was going to cost more to pay for emergency childcare than fly my mum over! In typical nightmare fashion, half way through the interview, my mum called to say her plane was cancelled due to fog, a lot of fog so there wasn’t going to be a flight the next day either. So the emergency nanny got hired on the spot!

Having a nanny made my first day a lot less stressful in the end as there was no nursery run and nobody was going to call me to come and up pick her up. When I got home, the funniest, sweetest thing happened. She handed me Arabella and straight away she started waving goodbye to the nanny, as if to say “you can go now, mummy is here”, it made my day and nearly made up for the fact I had to be reunited with this awful device:

So my advice for your first day back at work would be:

  • Don’t combine it with the first day of childcare
  • Have a plan B and C for childcare in case of sickness
  • Prepare everything you and your baby need the night before
  • Accept the fact it’s going to feel weird and not going to be easy but it gets easier after the first day