This mum's just gone back to work and has some great tips!
Being a mammy is a full time job.
However, you don’t clock in or out, get a lunch break or a cheque at the end of the month. You get so much more though. It’s the best job in the world. Your dream job in fact. You still pinch yourself on a daily basis feeling so lucky to have been hired for this incredible position. It’s all you’ve ever wanted.
But what happens when Mammy has to go back to paid work? Suddenly she has to divide her time between her precious child and her place of work. Of course she would rather be with her baby/kids all of the time but needs must. The outfits have been picked out, contracts signed and start date set in stone. You dream about the weekends and the precious moments you will share with your baby in the evenings. It will be fine.
There is just one problem though... the ever so slight issue of sleep. You are not getting a whole lot of it. The bags under your eyes would have to be checked in with Ryanair, you slur your words on a daily basis, and you could cry if there was too much milk in your tea. You are shattered beyond words.
You wonder how on earth you will possibly manage a day of work on such a small amount of rest. You have deadlines, targets and responsibilities. There is a line of people behind you who would love your position. You have every reason to prove yourself. But how will you manage? You have nightmares where you answer your work phone with “good morning, how can you help me?”. Others involve a lengthy lunch-time nap under your work desk. You are stressed about being away from your baby, devastated that maternity leave has come to an end, but mostly terrified that you will be too sleep deprived to function in your working environment.
I know how that feels. My baby is not a “sleeper”. Every night my sleep is broken by anything from 5-10 night wakings. It is exhausting but I have adapted and this is normality for us. Three weeks ago I returned to work and I had all of the above fears. It felt virtually impossible that I would be able to do a full day at work without falling asleep at my desk, not to mention all of the packing and organising involved in just getting out of the house on time in the morning. The baby had to be dropped off at the childminders, bags needed to be packed, I had to dress myself and my little one, food of some description had to be consumed, and all of this before 7am. Then there was traffic, deadlines, and bad weather to contend with. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. Turns out it was all worse in my head. Three weeks in and I’m exhausted but I’m managing. It’s amazing what we can actually accomplish with a bit of organisation and a lot of support from our loves ones.
Here are my top tips for surviving in work when you are severely sleep deprived.
- Coffee. All the coffee. It’s bad for you but it will keep you awake. Enjoy it.
- Batch cooking. I try to make one or two dinners at the weekend when I have my partner around. He takes care of the baby while I make a curry, casserole or stew. I then freeze it and it means that dinner is ready to go on some of those crazy busy work nights. This leaves me with more time to spend with my son before he goes to bed.
- Get off the computer. Ironic really as I write this on my laptop right? Seriously though, social media is addictive and generally keeps you awake and your brain stimulated for longer than you need it to be. I try to stay off the laptop as much as I can during the week and actually go to bed at a reasonable time.
- Read. It is far more relaxing. Give yourself permission to retire to bed early with a good book. It’s a lovely way to wind down after a long and tiring day. It’s also some much needed me-time.
- Get some fresh air on your lunch break. Have you gotten in to the habit of eating your lunch at your desk while working? Remember that a break is there for a reason. Get out of the office, even for a ten minute walk. Fresh air does wonders for your mental health and general well-being. You will return to work feeling refreshed and more alert. This in turn will make the afternoon more bearable.
- Don’t over-stretch yourself. Over-time, working late, extra responsibilities - really consider how they will impact your precious time with your baby and with your bed. Think of the sleep.
- Take turns to have a lie-in at the weekend or on your days off. Even if it’s just an extra hour or so, you will feel the benefits and it will uplift you.
- Ask for help. Just remember that you cannot do it all. Family members, friends and partners are usually more than happy to lend a helping hand. Don’t be a martyr.
- Eat and drink. This is so very important. Drink water throughout the day. Staying hydrated has an important role to play in helping you stay awake, alert and upbeat. A healthy breakfast and lunch will do the same.
- Have a plan. This will help you remember 1-9. Write a list - it helps.