Our little guy turned two recently and it was a hoot and a half. I still can’t quite get my head around how quickly he seems to be growing, but every day is awesome. Two years ago I was on Maternity Leave, which for those in the UK who qualify (read: have been working with a company with a maternity policy long enough), means you get a bit of time at almost your full wages, and then a bit of time on Statutory Maternity Pay, which is a bit crap. After about six months, you get nothing. I know that there are some countries (WTF America?!) that don’t have any form of Maternity pay and that must suck. For some women, staying home and spending time with this littles just isn’t an option, but for me, it was. I was lucky enough to stay home with my guy for seven months, and even Daddy got a month at home with us.
After that I decided to go back to work. I realised I wasn’t happy in my pre-Mama role, so I got a job that I loved, and worked three days a week. The decision was partially financial, and partially driven by the fact that I didn’t want to lose my sense of self. I felt that it was important for Milo to socialise and spend time with other kiddos, and almost two years in, and he’s doing just great. I came to a bit of a crossroads recently, and had a lot of options available; one of which was to return to work full time, and in pretty much my dream job. It all sounds great. Milo could spend another day at nursery, which he loves, and another day with his Grandfolk, who love him. Perfect.
All the guilt. It’s the prize that comes with having a tiny human. Parent guilt is quite unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and when it comes to guilt, I know my onions. If he goes to nursery, he won’t be spending enough time with me and won’t be a happy, attached child. If he stays at home, he won’t learn to get on with other children. If I work, I’m selfishly neglecting my kid. If I don’t work, I’m not contributing to the family and my skills are stagnating. Every decision seems wrong sometimes. To try and fix my dilemma I looked to Sweden. According to A LOT of sources, including Unicef, Swedish kids are the happiest in the world. It’s super common for Swedish parents to both work full time, and childcare is regulated and subsidised by the government. Swedish families do more in the time that they spend together, screen time is limited, they eat together. These are all things that we do with Milo. He has high quality childcare provision and we make to the most of the time that we spend together.
There’s still guilt, and I think that will be there, nagging away for a while yet. But tomorrow I will take Milo to his morning swimming lesson, dry my hair, take him to Nursery and then zoom off for my day of filming and editing. After my day is done, I’ll collect Milo, meet Daddy as he walks from the station, and we’ll have a meal that I’ve already cooked, and we’ll talk about our days. And at the weekend? The sky’s the limit.