In my experience the partner who doesn't go to work, the one who does the lion's share of the childcare can be subjected to such classic cases of 'foot in mouth' disease:
"But I have to go to actual work."
"You get to have a lie in everyday."
"If I could play with the kids all day instead of work - I would."
"Choosing and buying my family's gifts is your job now." My personal favourite and the one which caused all surrounding oxygen to turn 50 shades of blue!
I'm sure you've all got your own versions of the above, but such insight and wisdom from the other half can be frustrating, annoying and only ever about 20% truthful - after all most women will return to work in some form, meaning they will be work-ing, mum-ing, domestic godess-ing and partner-ing all in one.
That's a hell of a lot of things to be!
It's not easy returning to work; back to the routine, back to caring about something more than nap times, feeds and tantrum negotiation. I returned three weeks ago, changing from full time to part time. I still work the equivalent of four days a week and it sometimes feels as though I am trying to 'have it all' - but why shouldn't I have my own identity, career and earnings.
That's the logical answer for going back - money, prospects and the future plans that see beyond school starts and when the kids can make ME a cup of tea! In reality it totally misses out the stresses of sorting childcare, being OK with your baby going to someone else for the majority of their day and then paying them most of the money you have just earned.
Doing this second time round... technically I'm now a pro (yeah right!), I tried to learn from the past. This time I ensured I did my ten (optional) KIT (keeping in touch) days and eased myself back into the commute, getting up at a set time and having to dress and exit the house with two children by 7:30am. I surprised myself... I enjoyed it! It was a nice break out of mum life, with a bit of adult conversation thrown in. I'll admit though, as my 'official' return date loomed and full time mum life came to an end - I did feel a certain sense of dread.
Had I disregarded possibly the most important factor for me in returning to work? The effect on my mental health?
Going back after baby one I was getting up an hour earlier than necessary, waking my baby through my own tears and spending my early morning playing with him or cuddling him so to turn down the churning feelings of guilt and heartbreak.
Was this going to happen again? Would it be worse this time?
Mentally I have been 'fine' for some months now, I'd even go as far to say I have been 'good'. The last thing I wanted was to set off on another loop of the depression roller-coaster! Ironically this transition was not what actually caused my recent and unnecessary loop de loop in to mental health mayhem. It was my own idiocy in forgetting to request my repeat prescription - then forgetting to pick it up... eventually ending up a week off my anti-depressants.
WELL I WON'T BE FORGETTING THAT AGAIN! That week off the pills I spent in awe of how well I am doing on them and that I am no where near ready to even discuss coming off them yet. How I felt that week was like having bad PMT mixed with extreme irritability. I had to forcibly shut myself off to certain situations, triggers and people - another quick stab of memory into how life felt before I was diagnosed. It led me to a revelation...going back to work after baby two is SO MUCH better. I can only credit this to being diagnosed and treated for my depression. It's actually made work AMAZING!
Yes that's right, I described work as amazing! I literally feel like a different person at work - be that because I am a parent of two and it's changed my approach or if it's because I have re-found a little bit of the person that was shadowed by depression.
Mental Health Awareness Week has been and gone; my point is that every week is mental health week. Anyone out there in doubt if they are 'depressed' or sceptical that a little tablet can change anything please believe this; it's blindingly obvious to me now that I have not been myself in any of the three years since I began pushing babies out of my vagina. If you don't feel right or you're aware of changes in your behaviour...GO AND SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR! You deserve to feel 'normal' again.