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When Facetime Isn’t Enough
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When Facetime Isn’t Enough
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When Facetime Isn’t Enough
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As a freelance journalist who went back to work when my son, Otto, was five weeks old, juggling parenthood and copy deadlines has just been something we’ve made work as a family. My husband and I sterilised the bottles, packed the nappy bag and then had epic diary meetings ensuring we could make it work – who will do the nursery drop off, what will happen if he’s ill and can’t go, who is picking him up, what puree is in the fridge and so on.

We didn’t know any different and it just kind of worked. Fast-forward 18 months and I accepted an amazing job offer doing 6-weeks cover on a magazine – one that I read religiously and love. Five days in a London office seemed daunting with a lengthy commute, and I knew it would mean leaving the house before Otto woke up and getting home when he was already in his sleep sack snoring soundly – leaving only the weekends together. So I – and we as a family – debated the pros and cons. Yes it would be hard on everyone involved but it was an amazing opportunity and only temporary.

‘What started off relatively black and white became a very muddy grey when, about three days in, I felt like I’d lost a limb.’
  I couldn’t and still can’t describe how much I missed seeing Otto, hearing him natter away and getting him out of his cot in the morning. Yes I’m used to working full-time, but I always arrange my days so that I see him either in the morning or before bed, or, ideally, both – increased nursery and a whirling dervish husband making it all possible.

We started off FaceTiming each other every morning and evening and I loved seeing him have his bottle in our bed, splashing around in the bath and playing with his father. In return I showed him the trains on the platform at London Liverpool Street and the red buses flying past as I waited at the bus stop. After about a week into our new routine Otto started to get angry and hit the phone or, worse yet, press the big red circle and hang up on me. And I got it. Yes he could see me but couldn’t get to me or have or ‘cuggles’. My husband confirmed there were often tears afterwards and he would ask for me a lot. He started waking in the night also – a classic sign of being unsettled. So we scrapped that idea, and Otto definitely found it easier. I was the opposite but I knew it was the right thing to do and I came up with a few ways of surviving the weeks without my little sidekick. Here are some things I’ve learnt along the way…

 

  • Get your other half, nanny or nursery worker talking about you and explaining where you are; ‘Mummy’s at work’.

  • Pack a pair of headphones for your commute so you can watch videos and still see them daily, even if only virtually.

  • Make the weekends count. Clear your diary of anything that isn’t vital and spend quality time as a family. My Saturday morning park sessions with Otto have never meant so much.

  • The dynamic at home can become more military than missionary, making sure sh*t gets done, so schedule in a date night or two.

  • Ask for help. You can’t be a working mum, have a full fridge, empty laundry basket and immaculate home all at once if you’re never at home so take the pressure off with a cleaner or a friend or family member helping out. Think of your sanity!

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