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- 29 Oct 16

As I approach the final week of my second maternity leave I have decided to stop crying and look on the bright side. There are loads of reasons that Going Back to Work is going to be a Good Thing. Here they are.

  1. Chairs. Unless something has gone badly wrong since I left and the crazies who prefer to stand at their desks have won out, I will be given a chair. To sit on. For hours and hours each day. My bottom is tingling just thinking about it. The other day I went on a rollercoaster and my favourite part was getting to sit down for 90 seconds.
  1. I’ve started to do Mum Stuff. By which I mean dippy stuff which only people with heads full of nappies and tweety birds would do. Last week after dropping the children at nursery I got into someone else’s car and attempted TO DRIVE IT AWAY! I spent a good 30 seconds jamming my key into the ignition and yanking at the steering wheel before it dawned on me that this car was far too clean to be ours. Luckily it belonged to a nursery dad, who came out to laugh, before pointing me in the direction of the identical black Qashqai across the road. Who leaves their car open anyway? And at the Tube station recently I waved gaily at the driver as the train pulled into the platform, before realising that the children weren’t with me.
  1. Mom Jeans. Where have those been all my life? High waist, loose leg, flattering ankle skim to let in the breeze. What’s not to love? It’s like wearing pillows on your legs. The upshot is I’m getting way too comfy. It’s time I put on some proper trousers. Trousers that mean business. And maybe something that requires ironing, like a blouse. No, hang on, let’s not be rash.
  1. Books. There is loads of stuff I want to read. I have a pile by the bed that’s been there over a year. I have read precisely 2 books since the baby was born 13 months ago (one had very small writing). This is a 200% improvement on my last maternity leave so yay for me. Reading on the Tube is one of the great pleasures of my working day. I read for approximately 2.5 stops before I fall directly to sleep (see Point 5). Obviously books still take quite awhile to get through on this basis.
  1. Tube Sleeping. If you get this right and circumstances are favourable (i.e., you get a seat and no one has got on with a KFC at 8.10am) you can reasonably expect to increase your sleep time by about 40 minutes a day. Across a full working week that is over 3 hours of sleep! I sleep extremely efficiently and wake up just as the train pulls into my station, not a moment sooner. There should be a prize.
  1. Lunch Hours. Imagine it. An hour. To eat your lunch in. Your lunch. Not a cold fish finger, half a jam sandwich and blueberry rice cake. On one rather desperate occasion I confess I finished off an Ella’s pouch.
  1. Hot tea and Lone Wees. A cliché, I know, but oh, so true. The other day I microwaved my Earl Grey 4 times before finally giving up and slinging it down the sink. It was a bit tinny by the end. And the joy of weeing in peace cannot be overstated. Simply allowing the wee to come at its own pace, rather than jetting it out at top speed so that you can dash off to see which one is licking the Viakal and which one has climbed into the oven. And if you think it’s safer having them in there with you where you can see them, it’s not. They get everywhere. In short, I once weed on the baby.
  1. There is an outside chance that someone (anyone) will listen to something you say.
  1. After-work Drinks. What a lovely civilised idea. Obviously you will never ever be able to go because you will be running from the office at 4.59pm (head hung in shame) and running to the Tube (for your sleep) and running to the nursery (for your children). But it will be so nice to be invited!
  1. Nursery. They bloody love it. And so do I. Yesterday I asked what she’d done and she replied, “we lit fires, Mummy! And then we put them out.” You see. Marvellous.
  1. I have committed the mortal mum sin and shown people not close enough to care photographs of my daughter’s poo. In my defence it was an extraordinary poo, shaped like the most perfectly formed duck you ever saw. She noticed it too and we were both as pleased as punch with the poo and ROFL’d about it for ages. But I concede that the sharing was a step too far. So I’m hoping work will provide me with other more elevated discussion topics.
  1. Swimming. Work clashes with swimming. It’s not that I don’t love seeing the baby swim. It’s just taking him that I have trouble with. It’s something to do with the plasters, the drains, the hair, the wet socks… I could go on.
  1. Escape to the Country. They are ALL reruns. When you have seen every Escape to the Country that has ever been made, it is time to go back to work.
  1. Money. Oh, no, scratch that. See Point 10.
  1. The Children. They’re so unreasonable. If they were my boss I’d leave. Last week there was a tantrum that lasted 45 long minutes. Three quarters of an hour. I had to practice hitherto untapped hypno-birthing techniques on the bus just to get through it.

So, there you have it. Every cloud, hey…

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Helen Ugwu

Helen Ugwu is an actress (and office administrator in the City, cos it's the one that pays the bills) and mum to Eve who is 2 and a 5 month old baby boy. She is married to Ben and they all live in North London.

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