The first day back at work after our first child went super well. In fact, I nailed it. Felt on cloud nine. I got to work on time, looked good (in the new jacket I treated myself to as a return-to-work pressie) and felt awesome being back. I even had a glass of wine that night and settled onto the couch, smiling, ready for my nightly dose of Netflix.
Then came day two. And everything went out the door. You know those days everyone talks about, with awful, cringe-worthy moments no parent can plan for? The ones that bring on guilt and make you question why and how you’re leaving a tiny child?
We were on top of Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge, driving our daughter to grandma’s—she went every Tuesday—then onto work. I was feeling cruisy, thinking, “This working parent thing isn’t as hard as everyone says.”
And then it happened. Vomit. More vomit. And more vomit.
Everywhere and anywhere. Over the seats and over me.
You’ve all seen it. Until then, I hadn’t, to that extent. It was the thing I’d heard about (and probably been bored by) but thought would never happen to me.
I made it to work, late. I felt like crap. I cried. My jacket was ruined. My child was sick for days. But I got through it and from that day on, nothing was ever as bad. In fact, it made everything seem a little easier.
Everyone’s had days where the juggle seems too hard. As singer Gwen Stefani told InStyle magazine after having her third baby:
“I didn’t tour at all, but I did record a No Doubt album, which was super hard. I was torn the whole time. Every day I would take the kids to school, drive to Santa Monica, work on the album and then I’d think, ‘Oh my God, if I don’t leave by 2.30PM, I’m not gonna get home in time for dinner.”
You too will face a day like no other that really makes you question what you are doing and why. It feels like the world is about to crash down around you, like everything is against you. Your confidence is rocked and you dread calling in sick again, when you have only just returned.
It’s at this time you need to pick yourself up, put on a brave face and say, “I’ve got this.”
There are so many highs and lows on the return to work journey. My advice is to not make excuses to your colleagues or to your manager. It’s not your fault and it’s also not your baby’s fault. It’s called life.
So, the moral (and tip) of this story is always carry baby wipes in your bag to work. And don’t forget to smile. I promise it does get easier.
Written by Jodi Geddes, Co-founder of Circle In