4 weeks back at work and this is what I have learned:
1. It has been an absolute joy being able to go to the loo whenever I feel like I need to go, and with the door closed. I’m sure I have done some kidney damage by holding it in for hours at a time for the last 13 months.
2. I have not sat down in one spot for so many hours in such a long time. I was in the car in traffic on Tuesday morning for over three hours and today I sat hunched over a computer updating PowerPoint slides for eight hours. My arse is killing me.
3. I’ve been quite surprised that colleagues are full of compliments about how svelte I look. This is probably because the last time they saw me I resembled a beached whale.
4. Not much has changed in the grand picture. Funhouse Dawn still works cheerily at the panini counter in the canteen and Scary Rob still saunters around the building delivering parcels. But there does seem to be a wave of colleagues leaving the business and I can’t quite work out why.
5. My heart starts to feel heavy around four o’clock when suddenly the panic sets in and you fear that you won’t get to leave the office in time and you might get stuck in traffic and then your precious babe will be left sitting on the steps of the nursery, waiting. The Queen was in Richmond this week and because of the traffic I sat in my car about 2 miles from Maggie’s childminder for 50 minutes. I was practically shaking by the time I picked her up.
6. My entire outlook on life and work and the work-life balance has changed. While I expecting Maggie I applied for a post within Coke working at the Olympics. I couldn’t see how I could ever give up the opportunity to work at the Games; after all, I’d been talking and dreaming about the Olympics ever since my Da brought home a Misha bear from the 1980 Games in Moscow and promised me he would take me some day. We never did make it, but this time I thought I could take him. The job involved a 4-week secondment from normal work with two weeks’ training and two weeks at the Games. I would be based at Eton Dorney, home of the rowing and canoeing events, and would spend 12 hours a day, 6 days a week working at the venue, stocking fridges full of Coca-Cola and Powerade. At night we would all gather at the Team Hotel for a debrief and a beer. It sounded so wonderful and fantastic and frivolous and fun 13 months ago when I applied. Now it just sounded frivolous. One week back at work and I pulled out and felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The work-life balance definitely tips in favour of life.
7. Lunchtimes have definitely improved. I savour my Pret-a-Manger falafel wrap with tahini sauce and wash it down with a hot decaf cappuccino or a wee cup of tea. No more left-over gravy mash and cold discarded broccoli florets for me.
8. Mornings are MANIC! On Monday Maggie woke up at 5.15am and we still struggled to get out the door at 7.45am. On Tuesday I left the house to go to my first very important meeting with my new customer and my car wouldn’t start. I thought ‘To Hell, I’ll abandon it’ and phoned a taxi. But because the battery had drained the car wouldn’t lock. I had to cancel the taxi and miss the meeting. On Wednesday I left to go to a meeting and realised that Maggie had been playing with my car keys that morning and they were now in her pram at the childminders 1.5miles away. I always have the sinking feeling, “Didn’t I forget something…?” – and I usually have. On Thursday I forgot my security pass and had to go through the rigmarole at the security desk where I had to convince them that I was an employee, making me late for a meeting – again. On Friday I was able to work from home – hoorah! – but got up early to prep for a call from my customer which was due at 8.30am so couldn’t help Johnny with the morning routine. The call didn’t come until 6pm. Aaagh!
9. I had a complete blow-out at a work ‘do’ on my first week back and I remembered how much fun work can be and how great my colleagues are. I absolutely took full advantage of the free drinks, free taxi, free food and free hotel room. I think the free bottle of Veuve Clicquot was probably a bad idea though.
10. I regret going back to work full-time. Weekends just aren’t enough.