My husband said to me as he left for work this morning that he was looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow morning. I laughed, obviously.. I thought he was joking! We have an 18month old, and whilst he is a really good sleeper, I don’t class 7am as a lie-in by any stretch! However, thinking about it further I realised what was really meant by that comment was that 7am is better than 6am; 7am with a toddler in our bed watching Peter Rabbit (or, if we really have to, Teletubbies) is better than 7am standing on a cold station platform; and breakfast all together a little later in the morning is better than coffee at a desk in front of a computer screen. So, whilst our expectations have shifted dramatically it’s still the weekend, and a weekend morning (whatever time it starts) is more enjoyable than the mid-week dash to nursery!
I know you’re thinking this happens every week, why does she seem so happy to have reached the end of this week? Well, this week has been a little different. This week is the first week since Isaac arrived that both my husband and I have been to work all week; 5 days for Chris, 4 days for me. This is our new routine. Until now one of us has been at home – first me whilst I was on maternity leave and then Chris whilst he took some time out to look after Isaac and try something new by setting up his own business. When I went back to work in January it was tough, looking back on it now, I think it was harder than I even recognised at the time. But it was absolutely made easier by the fact that Chris was at home. He was working but he was there. On Mondays (my day at home) he was there to watch Isaac whilst I had a shower, I could leave Isaac at home napping whilst I did the weekly shop, he could sneak a couple of hours with us both on some Mondays to do something fun and he could eat dinner with us every Monday. It was then boys days on Tuesdays and Fridays and we supplemented Isaac being at home with 2 days a week at nursery. Until 3 weeks ago, I could work as late as I needed, go in on my days off if I chose to, go to the gym in the evenings, see friends or go to client events without the feeling that I was planning some kind of military operation. The default position was Chris was at home. I recognise that this made my transition back into work at the start of this year so much easier for Isaac and me.
Now, as Chris has started a new job, we have a new ‘normal’ and it involves a lot of team work and organisation. After two 4 day weeks for Chris this was the first week where we truly tested our plan. And whilst we are both extremely tired, and Isaac is not the happiest he’s ever been, we have got to the end of the week. We both got to work every day, Isaac got to nursery, he got picked up on time and the house is still standing (note, I didn’t say tidy!).
Things have changed and we are adjusting to our new normal but this week has proved that it is do-able. And with both of us at work, there is already a shift in our expectations of each other. I don’t expect Chris to have done all the jobs around the house when I get home (which I was terrible at when he was working at home) and tidying the house, doing the washing, cooking dinner are all shared responsibilities now, and whoever gets a chance (or has the energy) first, does them. We both still have the opportunity to work late or stay in London to see friends on certain evenings of the week and the other will be responsible on those days for getting home for Isaac.
Things have changed a lot. Isaac has noticed and is letting us know he knows. Crying at nursery drop-off (which he has never done), and being either very clingy when he’s at home or, in Chris’s case, completely the opposite and shouting “no” at him. This is the hardest bit. I know we will all get used to it soon but it’s proving to be tough.
In the meantime, whilst we are getting our heads and hearts around the emotional side of the new plan, we are continuing to learn little tricks that make our lives easier on a practical level. One major perk of having two salaries again is that we have our cleaner back (which I love) and we have gone back to online shopping (which I do once a week and Chris unpacks..) Life admin happens on the train on the way into and home from work and catch-ups take place whilst we cook dinner and before we fall silent in front of the latest season of Grey’s. And whilst I can just about still get away with not ironing Isaac’s clothes (the creases are so much smaller on small clothes..) I hold one piece of advice from another mum close to my heart – you don’t need to iron. Absolutely right.