Occupation: Full-time Mum

The P45 has landed. It’s official. I’m no longer on maternity leave. I’m a full-time twin mum.

I’ve now been at home (or in hospital) looking after the boys for a year now. So my change in employment status doesn’t really mean any great change in my day to day life. Except it does. It hit me at the weekend when I filled in a jury duty form and I had to choose my occupation. There was no option for full time mum. I was simply designated unemployed. Unemployed?! I’ve never felt more fully employed in every aspect of my life!!! I just don’t get a pay cheque. This really annoyed me. Cue letter-based rant to government.

It’s a bit of a scary place to be for someone who has had a job since they were 14. Really. I can’t remember anytime since then, that I didn’t have a paying job. Through school, I had a part-time job in a grocery shop that was within spitting distance of our front door and then I moved to a job in a chemists shop in the centre of town.

I had lots of different jobs whilst at university, the worst being a summer job in a commercial laundry for the local hospital. Sorting out soiled linen at 7am is not fun. Yuck. Thankfully I graduated pretty quickly to folding clean towels! The absolute best was the job I landed whilst in 2nd year at Edinburgh University. I worked every summer as an activity coordinator for foreign students attending the language school. Lots of good memories. Pointing out haggis (!) in the fields as we drove though the Highlands, me doing the tour guide thing at the front of the coach. Tours around historic Edinburgh pubs and not least being taught to salsa at 1am by a contingent of Spanish fishmongers!

For the last ten years, I have worked in Human Resources in the Financial Services Industry, building a career and working with people who will remain firm friends. It took me a long time to find my niche. A long time to find something that I enjoyed. But I truly did enjoy the last four years. The work was challenging. I was well out of my comfort zone. But I learned so much. Probably the biggest lesson for me was the realisation that I need to be challenged, I need to feel a bit of pressure in order to really thrive and actively enjoy my job. I just wish I’d realised that sooner.

I had a bit of a hasty exit from work. If you’ve read any of my twin pregnancy posts you’ll know the story. In a nutshell, I only found out I was expecting twins at 21 weeks and almost immediately we found out they were very ill and required in-utero laser surgery in London. Two days later, I had an operation on my placenta and I was signed off work for the remainder of my pregnancy. The boys arrived 10 weeks early and spent 5 and 13 weeks in hospital. A year on, my maternity leave is over and I’ve made the decision not to return to work.

It’s not been a decision that Mr C and I have taken lightly. We’re halving our family income. After building a lifestyle and buying a house on the strength of two salaries, it’s no small feat to work out how to get by with a 50% cut. But we’ll manage. A lot of our pre-baby expenses have just vanished! We sold my car as we simply didn’t fit in it s s replaced it with a pram of approximately equal value!! Evenings out are few and far between and after one attempt at a spa break with two babies in toe, it’s unlikely that we’ll do that again any time soon. We can live without these things for a year or two. This is not a forever scenario.

I want to spend as much time as possible with my baby boys. We had a really hard start to first time parenthood with a long stretch in hospital and now I really want to savour this time when they need me and want me to be close. The days fly by so quickly and I don’t want to miss any of it. Thankfully, the economics of this decision make complete sense. The cost of nursery places for two babies is extortionate and it means that financially I’d be bringing home very little if I did go back to work at the minute.

But it is a big change. There have been days when I’ve wondered if I can do it. If I can spend another day cleaning up after numerous vomits and re-starting what seems like an endless cycle of laundry. Days when I’m tired and cranky after very little sleep but still faced with all the tasks that need done every day. The basics of dressing, bottles, spoon-feeds, nappy changes and baths for two babies are enough to fill the day. Especially when it can take two hours or more to settle them to sleep. But everything else still needs done. Clothes need washed, shopping needs done, food needs to be prepared. It’s an unrelenting cycle.

But then when I’m sitting down by the fire, reading books with my babies cuddled in and watching my little boys learn to play with each other, I know how special this time is. When we head out in the afternoon for a frosty walk and I watch their big eyes, taking in everything as we walk along, wide –eyed with anticipation – it’s these times that I know that I’m doing the right thing.

I do have moments though when I worry about what’s next. What I’ll do when the boys go to school. About the reality of trying to break back into the world of work after a complete break for a few years. But for now, I know that this is the right decision. I’ll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. So for now it’s occupation full time mum.

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