Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A morning off

This morning I went to Oxford to meet up with a prospective client. He had emailed last week, after being given our details by someone I used to work with (as in so many areas, while you do need to know things, it’s also incredibly useful to know someone, as well), to see if I could come and have a chat.

I wasn’t about to say no to the possibility of lots (or even some) work, but my first instinct was to take Eleanor with me, and bring Chris or my mum to push her round/sit in a cafe with her while I was in the actual meeting. That’s what I would have done three years ago. There is no way that I would have considered going as far as Oxford, or even Cheltenham, without Rosemary when she was 5 weeks old. Because I was a new mum and panicked about everything. I didn’t let anyone else take Rosemary out in her buggy without me until she was six months, so I would hardly have gone off gallivantingworking for half a day.

But… I realised, last week, that I didn’t technically need to bring Eleanor along. She takes a bottle with no problem and tends to have some formula every day. I’d be able to feed her in the morning, then again when I got back. It’s even possible she wouldn’t need any more in between. And then I realised that I was a lot more laid back this time round – we often leave Eleanor alone when she’s sleeping (with the baby monitor on), we will let her cry for a bit (while getting the warm water for a nappy change, in her buggy while putting Rosemary’s coat on, etc.) rather than picking her up the very second she opens her mouth – and that I’d probably be OK to leave her for the 6.5 hours that I would be gone from the house.

And I was OK. In fact, I really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day, which probably helped. I played my new DS game on the way there and read my book on the way back. I had a latte and pain au chocolate in the morning and a brie, tomato and basil baguette and bottle of coke on the way back. I eavesdropped on conversations on the train – such fun. I walked through an area of Oxford I love, where I used to live and where I would love to live again some day. I wore make-up and smart clothes – well, actually, I wore the same clothes I wear all the time, because they’re comfortable and, well, they fit. Oh yes, and the meeting went very well and looks like it should lead to a fair bit of work in the coming months.

On the way back, I had a bit of a revelation. It struck me that I could actually cope with going out to work. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing, of course, and working from home works really well for us. But occasionally I’ll leaf through the Guardian or Bookseller job pages and might light on a job that would actually be perfect for me. And then I think there’s no point in even considering it, because I couldn’t possibly work away from home. That’s not who I am. But, you know, maybe that could be me. If the right job came up.

Of course, the right job would need to pay something in the region of £100,000, so that Chris could be a stay-at-home dad and a really nice house, allow me to work flexitime, so I wouldn’t miss breakfast and dinner with my girls, allow me time off in the school holidays, so I could spend lots of time with my girls, be located within a 45-minute public transport commute (or somewhere we would happily move to), and be something that would engage and challenge me and allow me to use my creativity and not make me to take orders from too many people…

But the important thing is that I know I could do it. Even more important (and fortunate) is that I don’t have to.

What about you? Could you do it? Do you already? Have you become more laid back with your second child? Would you like to go out to work and have your partner stay at home?


  1. Definitely far more laid back with No. 2. I'm not sure I'd like to do a role reversal and have Dave stay at home though, but I would definitely like to work out of the house more. I enjoy those moments when I feel part of the grown up world again. The latte drinking, pain au chocolat eating grown up world.

  2. That job doesn't exist unless you're the boss!
    I still think you'd miss the convenience of being at home. Sounds like you had a great day so hopefully more clients will want to meet up with you so you get the chance to do it more often.

  3. SOOO much more laid back with number two, but, bizarrely, much less keen to go back to work. Very strange really - but I think that it is number one who needs me more now, so I feel that I am earning my mothering badge better!

  4. Soo much more laid back with number two. In an ideal world I would like to Job share with MadDad, 3 days one week and 2 the next, then our children would get time with both parents

  5. My second one is being raised in a far more laid-back manner. I also have stopped feeling the urge to entertain all the time. Sometimes I just let her get on with things for an hour, and she's fine.

    About working outside the home - I would love to go back to teaching, but it's not practical at the moment with my husband working silly long hours. I want one of us to be around a good portion of the day. I will go back to work when my kids are in school. I'm not sure I'd like to be the sole breadwinner, though - it might be a bit much pressure. I'm surprised at how much I like being around for the kids.

  6. So pleased you enjoyed your morning, although I am genuinely upset we couldn't have squeezed in a quick coffee! I was definitely more relaxed with the second batch of babies, although I was so caught up in PND it's hard to know what was 'deliberate' relaxing and what was just a fog of bad bonding :( As you know, I love going out to work and wouldn't want it any other way, but that doesn't stop me envying what you have!

  7. I remember that feeling - the first time you've had a break and a moment to yourself - it's a total revelation. Well done you for getting out there. Sounds fab. Oh blasted work. Some days I feel I could, whilst other days I dread even the thought of leaving my little ones. The thing is, the fact that my husband is away such a lot and always at random times means it would be extremely difficult for met to do anything other than from home. So as Jennysnali says above - I'd have to be the boss!! Not likely at the moment! xx

  8. I work full time outside the home, have done since my daugher was 3 months old (love the US maternity leave benefit!), and went back at the same time after my son. It is hard, very tiring, and I do wish I could work a bit less (but get paid the same). My kids are happy (preschool is great), but I do miss them. But I love my job too. Torn in two! I definately found it easier with my second, he went straight to the same daycare as his sister, people I already know and trusted. I think you have a great situation, though one of the benefits of out of the house work is being part of an adult world, I do appreciate that.

  9. Bib: Yes, the adult world is quite nice now and then!

    Jennysnail: I almost certainly would, yes. Been doing it for 10 years now, so I am probably completely incapable of working for someone else.

    Hearth-mother: It does seem like the older ones need more time and attention. Presumably that will change as they all get older, though.

    TMH: Oh, that sounds perfect. It's kind of what we're ending up doing here, I suppose - though we're splitting it half days at the moment. I really like the fact that my girls get to spend so much time with their dad - I know they're very lucky to have that.

    Mwa: Teaching's a perfect job for when the children are at school - you'll get to spend all the holidays together. Lovely. I hate the school holidays, because I want to be taking time off to spend with Rosemary, but it never seems to be possible, and she just ends up spending large amounts of time with my mum (which is fine, of course, but still hard).

    MTJAM: If only I'd answered your text the night before, I might have been able to juggle things differently. As it turned out, Eleanor didn't wake up until I picked Rosemary up at 3.30, so I could have come back on a later train. But there's no predicting these things.

    You know, I actually did worry for a moment if I was being so relaxed that I might be suffering from PND, but I don't think so.

    You can envy me and I will envy you, then, and we'll mostly enjoy what we do actually have!

    Emily: Yes, it would be very difficult for you with his erratic working patterns. I guess when Edie's at school you'd be able to do something part-time, if you wanted to. But presumably it would be too difficult to go back to your old career so soon. Working from home has lots of benefits, though!

    Geekymummy: I was talking to another mum whose son went to Rosemary's nursery school and who has a new baby. We're both looking forward to sending our girls there, because we know how good it is and know the staff well. I think it does make it a lot easier.

    Yes, I think it's the adult world I miss. Which is probably why I spend such a lot of time blogging and tweeting! I'm lucky to have Chris to talk to, of course, but sometimes you need a bit of variety!

  10. I never thought I would be able to tear myself away to work.

    But I work from 9 to 4 3 or 4 days a week and I love it.

    It is time to just be me and it is easier than staying at home!

    I'm too insecure to allow my ex to be the key carer though.

  11. I've just gone back to work in an office a couple of days a week, after what seemed like a million years away, and I love it! Scary at first but now it's great. Go for it!

  12. I'm finding it extremely hard being back at work and having to leave my little girl in particular with someone else (shes so small). But having said that, I am starting to think that it does have its benefits and I think its slowly helping regain a bit of 'me'
    Of course, I am earning in the region of 100,000...pennies....