Diary of a mum returning to work – Time


Lucy Mason assumed that once her youngest daughter started school she’d hit the ground running with her career. But eight weeks on, she wonders what she’s done with all that time.


It’s been exactly eight weeks since my youngest daughter started full time school.

At first it was great. I was elated, dizzy even, with the amount of time I had to myself. I’ve spent nearly nine years looking after babies/young kids while at the same time managing everything else – cooking, cleaning, working, washing, running everyone around and all the bits in between.

Like thousands of other mums and dads of pre-school children, I was brilliant at squeezing everything in, and packing as much as I could into my day and evening. Over the years I’ve learned to multi-task, prioritise, and – in some cases – simply got very good at ignoring what needed to be done. Or so I thought.

So now eight weeks have passed (seven if you take out half term). That’s 35 schooldays, with around six hours each day, making 210 HOURS of time to myself, without a little person talking to me, poking me, following me around and generally needing my attention.

But what have I done with all this glorious ‘me’ time? I honestly can’t tell you. Obviously the house, cleaning, cooking and a reasonable amount of work have been kept ticking over, but they’ve not had any more attention than before September.

Long before my last child started school, I made lists in my head of all the things that I could do if only I had more time myself, including:

  1. Paint/decorate the downstairs rooms.
  2. Build a website for my work.
  3. Brush up on skills to find more work – eg try and get to grips with social media.
  4. Spring clean the house.
  5. Make a healthy, home-cooked meal for my family to come home to every day (still make a last-minute dash to Tesco Express on the way to school pick-up).
  6. Get better at keeping up-to-date with accounts.
  7. Do more exercise – eg I could go running in the daytime (but don’t).
  8. Find lovely things for the house in the local charity shops (my husband doesn’t know about this one).
  9. Get all Christmas-related stuff done before December to avoid last year’s last minute panic.

So far I’ve achieved none of these. What on earth am I doing with all this time? I need to take action or my days are going to slip by and I’ll turn into one of those women who just watches other people through the window because she doesn’t have a life of her own.

It’s not like I don’t have lots to do – the opposite, I have loads. I just need to get my arse in gear and do it. But how?

Maybe that’s the problem. I’ve been stacking up everything I want to do for so long that, now the time has come to do it, I don’t know where to start.

Or possibly it’s an identity thing – nine years is a long time to constantly have kids under your feet (you get less for murder etc), so it’s going to take time to make an adjustment. Whatever it is I need to find a way of pulling my finger out and getting on with things.

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