Reluctance: unwillingness or disinclination to do something. “she sensed his reluctance to continue” synonyms: unwillingness, disinclination, lack of enthusiasm.

Urgh. Meh. Pah. Bleurch. On Monday, for the first time in nearly two years, I will return to work as a primary school teacher after my third (and final) maternity leave. A couple of weeks ago – feeling extremely nervous and apprehensive – I went into school to join in their Christmas lunch. And when I came home I wrote this…

Today I went into work for the first time in a very long time. And in January I return to work after nearly two years of extended maternity leave. How was it you ask? Strange, horrible, exciting, different.

For those of you who don’t know I’m a primary school teacher and have been for the last 14 years since I qualified. I’ve worked both as a supply (supply teacher of the month May 2003 I’ll have you know!) and then as a permanent member of staff in my current school since September 2003. During that time teaching, my school and myself have changed unrecognisably. It’s fair to say the current education system neither excites or motivates me – if I had Michael Gove’s job things would be done very differently, but sadly I don’t, and somehow have to fit back into a school and a system I’m not particularly enamoured with.

Now I’m not going to go into detail about my actual school, because let’s face it as a teacher I’m not entirely sure I should blog about work at all, but what I do want to write about is how I’m feeling about returning. This will be the third time I’ve returned from work after having a baby. The first time I was a single parent and my daughter was 18months old. Having had to defer my last year at university after my father had died I hadn’t had a full time job before I got pregnant, so being a supply teacher seemed like the perfect way to get back into teaching. And it was the right time. My daughter has always been very busy, inquisitive and sociable and (as my mum lived over two hours away so couldn’t help out) nursery seemed like the best choice. She settled in instantly which helped and I was excited to return to work. Supply teaching meant if I needed a day off I could easily have one, but it did mean no holidays as I worked in nursery school during the school holiday time, or there was I didn’t get paid. It worked well. Working three days a week gave me the best of both worlds and I loved being ‘me’ at work, something that was mine and defined me and I was good at. Then, when she was three, I had an opportunity to work permanently and full time. A choice I didn’t take lightly, but a regular income was too good to turn down.

Skip down the line a couple of years and I met my husband and became pregnant again. This time I was on maternity leave for just ten months, and at the end of it I was raring to get back to work. I thrived on the buzz, applied for and got a promotion whilst on maternity leave and loved it. Working three days again was brilliant and I still got to spend some wonderful time with my children when I wasn’t at work. I became an expert at compartmentalising things and when at home work did not cross my mind once.

And this time, well this time is different. This time is so very different. And I’m not sure why. Is it me? Is it work? Is it because of pnd? Or because I know I’m not having anymore children and going back to work is now forever until I retire…which will probably be when I’m one hundred and fifty if the government have anything to do with it. Although this maternity leave has been one of my most challenging – pnd really is a complete bitch – it has also been the most amazing time of my life. I knew I would want to take extended maternity leave when I first found out I was pregnant and applied for it straight away; and I’m so grateful we’ve (just about) been able to afford it. With my middle child starting school last September I knew that the long settling in period would be difficult to manage if I was working. My husband works away often and there is no family close by to help out and I didn’t want to rely on wrap around care immediately like I had to with my daughter. And now I’ve taken that extra magical, and wonderful time away from work it’s making it so much harder to go back. My life is pretty amazing at the moment. Yes I have a challenging pre-teen saying she hates me often, yes I have two wonderfully lively boys who never stop, and yes some days I am overwhelmed with the groundhogness of it all – but it really is simply perfect. I love being with my children, I love being able to blog, I love spending time with my friends who are mums themselves. And of course none of those things actually have to stop, but they will be impacted upon by work.

And work itself. I felt lonely today, which is ridiculous considering the staff are over 60 in number. It’s changed so much. I likened it earlier to some colleagues to the boiling frog analogy – and that those still there haven’t noticed the many changes because they have been subtle and over a period of time, like the frog not realising he’s getting too hot – and then there’s me, the frog thrown into the boiling water and screaming because it’s painful and shockingly different and not a pleasant place for me to be at all.

And then I stopped writing. So, Monday is the day and as you can probably guess I’m pretty reluctant. Hopefully once I’m back all of the people who have said, ‘It’ll be like you never left!’ will prove to have been right. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Do you work? How did you feel about going back…any magical words of advice for me?!

16 thoughts on “Reluctance

  1. You’ve just got to go and get through it. I’m finding it tough I won’t lie. I think having time out has made me Reevaluate what I want in life – I don’t think I can do this forever. Everyone says it’ll get better. I’ve just gone up to 30 hours so in a while I’ll tell you if it does! I’ll be thinking of you. Xx

    • instinctivemum says:

      Thank you lovely, your text on Monday was perfect. I hope you’ve not found your first week of four days too hard xx

  2. I’ve been on maternity leave for almost a year, I go back on 3rd march and I’m dreading it. I didn’t like my job much the first time around, and base on what colleagues have said its not any better now. But at least ill be part time not full time – that’s pretty much the only positive I’ve found.
    I hope that it goes well for you and that you get back into it again – take one week at a time and plan fun things for your free time – that was how I coped with one child and full time work last time! Oh – and ignore the mess in the house created from not having time to sort it out ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

    • Claire_S_Brown says:

      I’ve been back at work now 7 months now and it’s starting to feel better being back and like I’ve never been away. I won’t lie I still miss being on maternity leave being with my boy but as I’ve only gone back 3 days I just have to remind myself I’m lucky that I get 4 days with him so I make the most of it. The other thing I’m now enjoying (which I still feel guilt about saying) is having me time even if it’s just at work.
      Hope all goes well for you and try not to worry. X

    • instinctivemum says:

      Wise wise words about the house being a mess…it is currently being ignored whilst I have a cup of tea and reply to my blog comments lol! xx

  3. I am experiencing a range of similar feelings. I work in higher ed. I finished work on the day Boo unexpectedly arrived while I was at work (at 29 weeks gestation) in April 2012. I went back to work in May but initially on phased return due to Boo’s needs and my depression and then was lucky to have a sabbatical for a few months, meaning I was working but flexibly and with minimal commuting. Now it’s back to two long commutes a week and lots more responsibility. I have to work and a big part of me wants to as well, but I am very nervous. And it’s not the same as it was going back after Sissyboo. But you never know till you go back. Give yourself time to adjust and see how things feel in a month or so. I hope it goes better than expected and that you have lovely colleagues, as that makes a huge difference, I think. Much love.

    • instinctivemum says:

      Thank you so much. I can’t imagine having a long commute that must be so hard for you. I guess change is always challenging. Last week went ok, so hopefully it will continue. I hope it all goes smoothly for you too x

  4. Wow – a big day coming xxx it must be so emotional ๐Ÿ™ x I hope u find u actually begin to enjoy working again xxx I decided to not return in the end but there are always days I wonder if the grass would be greener…! I think no latter what u do, u have that feeling xxx good luck for Monday ๐Ÿ™‚ *hugs* xxx

    • instinctivemum says:

      Thank you, you’re so right the grass being greener thing is always there. Better the devil you know and all that. First week was actually ok though…phew! X

  5. I found it tough going back after 14 months off after having z and it had changed a fair bit (like you said, the boiling frog analogy) but I did eventually get back into it and the income really helped. I love that its part time and although I’m not that in love with my job it’s the best thing for us at the moment. I hope you have an easy transition back into it all. Good luck x

  6. Wish i had some words of wisdom for you. I found the thought of returning was worse than actually going back. However childcare for us was a massive issue. 3 children with 2 preschoolers makes childcare impossible. So i have left my job. However long term i need to find something else.

    Good luck on Monday Xxx

    • instinctivemum says:

      Wow that is very brave of you, but I understand – childcare is soooo expensive and hard. Hope it works out for you x

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