Five things I’ve learnt from maternity leave

With exactly a week to go before I return to the daily grind, the Final Countdown is on. Here are the top five things I’ve learnt from my year off…

1. There’s no such thing as boredom.

I asked DH before my maternity leave was due to start, “shall I do a Master’s degree? To pass the time?” After having DS1 during my undergraduate degree, I thought it would be perfect timing to have a year off work, look after a baby and gain another qualification. Young fresh-faced me may have stood up to that challenge – the slight older more worn me eventually decided I probably could do with a break. And you know, spend more time with the baby.

2. I’m not as introverted as I thought.

I felt enlightened after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution and watching her TED Talk. She and Myers & Briggs had me down to a T. But I found myself signing up to all sorts; baby yoga, Baby Sensory, Peas’n’Pods, the PTA for the older one at school. What’s more, I found I thrived around people and actually enjoyed small talk – yeah I know, right?

3. Yes, I can do it all over again.

A year ago I was gearing up to send my eldest off to school at the same time as welcoming a new baby to our family. I was past night feeds, controlled crying and potty training, not to mention shunting trucks and hauling freight. I was ready for homework, show and tell, and tales of who pushed who in the playground. What if I forgot how to do something vital? I found myself plunged in a world of nappies and clock watching for the next feed, Googling the odd bit to fill in the gaps. Within a few weeks, I was in the full swing of being mummy to a little once again and it turns out, it wasn’t that difficult after a routine was in place.

4. Change is scary.

There’s a real sense of panic when I think too much about going back to work. It’s not that I don’t want to work; if DH ever suggested I could be a SAHM, I think I’d be quite sad at that prospect. I felt a similar fear a few weeks leading up to maternity leave. It’s the new era, change, how our routine will be turned upside down. The lack of control I have over the situation is probably more overwhelming than the change itself. I absolutely love how interesting my job is and if I think about the job in itself without all the baggage, I’m actually quite excited.

5. I bloody hate cleaning.

Gone are the days of SAHMs scrubbing the floors and wiping down the windows. DH finds it hilarious when I say my week has been so busy, I haven’t found the time to pick up the Hoover. I can’t wait until I can legitimately ask DH to do his fair share.

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Time for closure.

Last week was DH’s graduation, marking the end of his degree and our life in Canterbury. We were very excited for the excuse to visit the city we once knew and still love, basking in memories of cobbled streets and Sunday mornings in a coffee shop. Of course we were celebrating the future as well as harking back, after all, DH did achieve a First in his degree and win the International Relations Prize, whilst juggling his role as a stay-at-home-dad. DS and I are amazingly proud of him!

It is crazy how time flies, as the same day a year ago was my graduation. I love how DS is present in both our graduation pictures; whilst our faces remain the same with a difference of one year (or so I hope), DS has almost doubled in size. To my surprise, with a few adjustments to the elastic, DS’ trousers and waistcoat from a year ago still fit him.

Oh how my boys have grown!

Those who can.

September 24th; this means we are only a few weeks away from reaching the end of our recruitment cycle for the academic year 2010-2011. For those who decide last minute they want to come to university, it is a mad dash to find the information to start the course they are already late for and to find somewhere they can call home. It would be very interesting to know the reasons behind the applications; whether an applicant genuinely wants to study the course of their choice, or whether it is to postpone working life. Either way, a willingness to learn is never a bad thing.

I grew up with the desire to go to university and often find it difficult to understand when others do not have the same inclination. I do understand those who seek to work in a field they enjoy, in whatever industry. But for those who spend years in hope that life will some day throw something at them, and for now they will just wait for it, I cannot comprehend. Some would argue, studying a degree that does not lead you directly into a specific role is ultimately a waste of time; and it is for the minority who cannot successfully pass that degree. For the majority though, it gives you a trump card that says on paper, you are better than someone who does not have a degree. Thus, having the ability to obtain better jobs.

It is known that a degree is not necessary for many job roles, yet recruitment agencies and employers ask for one. I see getting a degree as a natural stepping stone and it is essential for employers to ask for one to enable them to vet their staff. I know I most probably would not have got my current job now without my degree.

Doesn’t the saying go: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach work in retail.

Freshers Week.

So another year has passed and the students are flooding in, except this year I am not joining them. It is such a strange feeling. Finishing over four months ago and acquiring a job since means I should have already come to terms with no longer being a student, and I have, it is just mentally letting go is harder than physically.

I suppose in my third year I was hardly living the typical ‘student life’. I do miss learning as geeky as it sounds, but that is not to say I do not appreciate the break. I am not sure I would have had the stamina to continue being a student/parent. Working now is definitely the best decision and it gives my brain a much needed rest. I like to think that one day I will return to education and study for a Masters degree, I am not completely ready to resign myself to the daily grind.

So sign me up and toss this key, ’cause for now, we’re living.

Today I found out I graduate with a 2:1 in English and American Studies. Boom. I can’t explain how gratifying it is to finally get what I’ve been working so hard for. DS has been an inspiration to me to get back on track and really focus on getting my degree. He doesn’t even know.

I spent the day at Sandwich Technology School conducting questionnaires to year 9 and year 10 students, as part of a temp researcher job I’m doing. I really do enjoy this job, it’s a shame it’s not permanent. This was the fifth school I’ve been to in the last month, and each one has been so different. I’ve really learnt a lot about schools, education and how both will really suffer with the cuts put in place. Schools all over the country are struggling as it is with the budget they have to work with, and to have more cuts, less resources, sufficing with run down buildings and incompetent staff – It’s a travesty. Teachers need a higher calibre and a passion for teaching. What I’m seeing now is an overwhelming surge in the number of graduates who move onto doing a PGCE just because their degree on it’s own is inadequate. It’s not a good enough reason to become and teacher, and it shouldn’t be so easy.

I’m quite excited for tomorrow – I have my second interview at a place in Whitstable. I would like to get the job, obviously, but I do have two other interviews lined up in the following weeks I have high hopes for.

Looks like it’s all systems go!