Released On 14th Apr 2022
Laura's blog: The Big Return to the Office - The Hardest Transition Yet!
“But Mummy, I don’t want you to go into London, I want you to stay here with me!”
My eldest is aged 4. I have been on maternity leave, and then working from home full-time, since she was 23 months. As we begin the big return to office, it’s a huge transition for her and she’s been finding it very difficult. As have I. In truth, sometimes it’s been horrendous. This is a whole new level of mum guilt. Her brother is 2, so doesn’t quite have the same level of awareness, but he has been feeling it, too.
There have been tears. There have been tantrums. From all of us!!
I’m still experimenting with my schedule. I try to come home as soon as I can to see them, but I don’t want to disrupt them too much once they are winding down for bed. Once I tried missing the rush hour traffic so deliberately stayed late, and I didn’t see them at all, and that broke my heart a little. The worst time was when I rushed home in peak rush hour, saw them for 30 minutes, then had to disappear back to my desk for a late call. They were both crying and screaming for me from upstairs. That was horrific.
But we are finding our groove, slowly but surely. The muscle memory is coming back as I silently change trains, wait at platforms, make the short walk from tube to office. I remember now what my window is to leave the office to catch the next train, and I know when NOT to commute. I had a frantic trip last week where I was determined to prove CityMapper wrong (“despite what you are telling me, I WILL make this train”) – and I won. Small victories.
I like how I don’t have to unpack my bag if I do consecutive days in London. I am starting to enjoy my freedom a bit more at lunchtime and on my commute. I am still an uber planner though, and make myself objectives for the commute, like review all my personal emails, catch up on all my messages, close 50 of the 400 article tabs I have open on my phone. In time, I am sure I will use the commute just to breathe. But right now, I need to feel that traveling time and time away from home is productive, and useful.
I find being a full-time working parent stretches me like nothing I’ve ever done before. I feel like I am running an endurance race, every day. My head spins with schedules, reminders, and the overflowing washing basket haunts me in the middle of the night (a recent sickness bug left my youngest with no clothes!). And thanks to COVID hitting halfway through my second maternity leave, I’ve never before had to be a full time working mum of 2, who also has to commute into London.
I know I need to be kind to myself, to be gentle and understanding as my whole family transitions to this new normal.
I am not yet at the stage where I want to take people up on their offers of dinners and drinks after work. But in time, I hope I will.
Things have changed so much in the last few years, both on a personal level as well as a global level. I’m still figuring out which bits I want to leave behind, and which I want to cling on to.
Laura works in asset management. She recently moved back to her hometown in Hertfordshire, after 20 years of living in London. She is married, with 2 children and 2 rescued house rabbits. Laura is mixed ethnicity and uses the pronouns she/her.