Like most women I know, and almost every mother in the universe, I am one of life's planners. No major life event has taken place without an epic 'to do' list and multi-tabbed financial spreadsheet. The build up to our wedding and the impending arrival of both of our children were a planner's paradise. My career, our house, Christmas, holidays, next year's holiday, you name it, I've probably got a plan for it.
Except now I haven't. For the first time in forever (good old Frozen), I'm totally plan-free. And it's terrifying. Naturally, this has come about due to having children - there is no bigger factor in the total disruption of a woman's life than the pitter-patter of small, sticky feet. Having taken redundancy, I've suddenly found myself at the point where I would have been gearing up to finish maternity leave and head back to stressful deadlines (bad), hot lattes and office banter (so good), but instead I have no clear path in front of me.
Obviously I have a lot of vague ideas about what I'd like to do (all involving work-life balance, professional fulfilment and a decent salary) but, like many parents with young children at home, I seem to have absolutely no head-space to consider and research them properly. Weeks go by and all I have managed to achieve is a few brief day-dreams while the kettle boils.
Talking to other parents, usually mums, who have found themselves in similar situations, this sense of rising panic seems to be caused by our need to control things, as well as our fear of losing our professional identities. Because truthfully, there isn't really any need for me to panic. Fortunately our family won't starve for quite a while without me working and the kids love me being at home so why worry in the short-term? In part, it's not having the answer to the question that I get asked on a weekly basis; "so what are you going to do next?". It's entirely well-meaning (along with "how's life as a lady of leisure?" Not offended, but if this is leisure I want a full refund and complimentary spa treatment...) but it seems inadequate not to be able to reassure people with a full account of my future plans.
The best advice anyone has given me is the most simple. 'Just enjoy this'. Having a break doesn't mean you're out of the game. I want to find work that I love and I will. Being a mum is better training than the marines when it comes to resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance.
Living in the moment and having faith in the future seems like the best strategy. 'Let it go', as Elsa and my 3 year old would screech...