I’m currently sat in the bar of Combe Grove Manor Hotel in Bath. It’s as nice as it sounds; comfy-but-quirky, modern rooms; country club with a sauna and steam rooms; tennis courts; outdoor pool; driving range (won’t be using that); awesome, stunning views and it’s own little art exhibition type thing in reception (not my cuppa tea, but the little squishy one loved the pretty colours). And the bar has chandeliers…’nuff said. The Husband is currently watching over the sleeping baby and I am taking my turn in the bar, so needless to say there’s also a large class of chilled Chardonnay in front of me.
And that’s because I am at the start of my half term break after being back at work for two weeks. Two full-time, nursery-based weeks. And it has been lovely. And busy. And not without it’s (teething) problems. I thought that this would be a good point to pause and reflect on how it’s gone and what’s led me to be here in the lovely bar of Combe Grove.
Teething Problem 1: The first major thing that happened was that I realised that I hadn’t completely forgotten how to teach. This was huge. I sort of have this fear at the end of every summer holiday, because after having so long ‘out of the game’ you naturally wonder if your skills are still as sharply refined as they were. Luckily, after only six weeks off, they (usually) are fine. But six months is different; it’s WAY longer. For at least the first three days back, I simply had to focus on teaching and absolutely nothing else just to get back in the swing of things. This inevitably means that things don’t always go perfectly; sometimes it is because you’re ‘picking up from where someone else left off’. Or maybe it’s because there has been a change in the students in the class and you don’t know them yet? Sometimes it may be that you just got the plan wrong because you’re brain is still a bit slow. It is very important to give yourself the time and space to focus on the basics and not to overload your plate. It is good to say ‘no’ to tasks that add faff and cumber to your week(s) whilst you’re trying to re-establish yourself in the basics of what you do. And it is ok to make mistakes and mess up.
Teething Problem 2: Leaving the little squishy one at nursery rips the life out of me. On one day, mainly due to the amount of faff and hectic-ness of the morning drop-off and how ‘new’ I was at all of this, I didn’t get a chance to kiss her goodbye. My day was ruined. I was useless and was very angry with myself all day. My fuse was noticeably shorter and I just wanted 3:20pm to come. I realised that I very much value the time we have together in the mornings and that I must take care with it. I shouldn’t rush it just because it’s easier to get her sorted at nursery. So now, I have made a pact with the little squishy one and my husband that we start saying goodbye when we turn off the main road into the driveway of the nursery. That way, I’m not rushed and we will always have dedicated time to say the ‘goodbye’ and the ‘have a nice day’ and the ‘I love you’. My daughter actually loves nursery though; this has definitely made it easier to return to work. She smiles when she sees the staff; she has so much fun; she eats amazingly well and already has a boyfriend (this girl wastes no time!). I’m not sure if it is anything to do with the age she has started nursery or just her chilled out personality that she’s developing, but she hasn’t had the catastrophic melt down that I thought she would.
Teething Problem 3: Work/Life balance is difficult when you’re a full time professional: no doubt about it. One evening, I had to stay late at work to prep for some interviews that were taking place and I had an appointment in town at 5:30pm which meant I pretty much had to go straight from school to my appointment. This ultimately meant I didn’t see my daughter for a whole evening. This is just one evening, and it was horrid. I can only imagine how awful it would become if I lose touch and start to stay late more than once per fortnight. Whilst it will be hard on occasion, I have been fairly good at leaving school promptly and spending what time I do have free, with my family. Long may this self-discipline continue.
Teething Problem 4: Tiredness. I am very tired. Tired from work. Tired from playing with the little squishy one. Tired from working late after she’s gone to bed. Tired from all the other stuff I cram into the tiny gaps in time between everything else. We are very lucky that our daughter is an amazing sleeper; she’s been sleeping 10+ hours a night pretty much since 9 weeks (she’s now about 24 weeks old) and we know that life could be very different if she didn’t. At home she sleeps in her own room (and has done since 9 weeks!) and we get good sleep by any new parents’ standards. But even when I do get the chance to sleep, my mind is racing; I sometimes think about work during the night. I sometimes dream about my daughter (which often wakes me in a frenzy because I worry about where she is or whether she’s in our bed for some strange reason and she’s suffocating under the duvet). Sometimes I just wake up…seemingly for no reason at all. So I’m very tired. Maybe that’s the reason why this spa hotel booking was such a necessity? Having the excuse to relax and chill out in the bar with chandeliers and awesome views or to get a spa treatment – or both, is exactly what I needed. Maybe it’s ok to indulge yourself once in a while? Maybe it’s ok to reward yourself? Maybe it’s ok to prioritise yourself once in a while to keep yourself ‘normal’ and feeling like you?
Teething Problem 5: Actual teeth. Not my teeth – her teeth. Two little white peg things in her bottom gum that seem as though they cause a monumental amount of pain. She’s been ok with them generally by all accounts, but she’s definitely had ‘painful moments’ where she does a genuine bottom-lip-quivering sad face and grizzles. I tried using that gel stuff, but how in the name of Jesus you’re supposed to get that on their tiny gums whilst they’re crying and wriggling around, I don’t know! She has things to chew on and suck and the occasional dollop of gel for good measure, but I think she’s just going to have to ‘go with it’ and ‘tough it out’ because I’m all out of suggestions. It struck me that the timing was pretty crap – first one appears just as I’m returning to work. Brill. But, I guess it’s just another one of those things to deal with in my ‘working mum’ life. It is all part of the life I now lead and all I can do is help her as much as I can, give her all the mummy love I can, try with any creative solution the internet has and get on with it. Because that is life.
The rest of my week shall be spent in Combe Grove and in Wales with my amazing husband and daughter. We’re going to a couple of weddings of our awesome friends and lots of fun will be had. Right now, there are lots of things on the work plate that need doing, but the work will be fine to wait until next week. Right now, this week of life is for living.