The Career Break: Half time report

If you have been keeping up to speed in what has been happening in Learner Mama land then you will know I am on a career break. It officially started on 15th July 2013 which now means I have reached the halfway point.

Where did that 6 months go??!! I just thought I would share how I am getting on. For me it was a big decision to take a career break. I have worked since I left college with the exception of my 3 periods of maternity leave which totalled 27 months over a more than 5 year period.

Before I took the career break I knew something had to give. I was working full time and commuting almost 3 hours a day and hardly seeing my kids Monday to Friday. By the weekend I was tired and had five million chores to catch up on so quality family time was limited.

The start of my career break was superb. I kicked off all gung ho to spend loads of quality time with the kids as they were off on school holidays. Suddenly a heat wave hit. I couldn’t believe my luck – although to be fair I felt I deserved it. Of my three maternity leave periods any summer time months off were unseasonably wet and pretty much miserable – particularly my first back in 2007.

There were trips to the beach, the paddling pool was out for weeks and I’m not sure I spent much time in the house. The only fly in the ointment was my little boy who decided to commence a fear of the back garden so spent a bit of time coaxing him out and often at times giving up and leaving him play inside but felt bad that he was on his own – that said he is happy in his own company so I don’t think he noticed and eventually he braved the outdoors.

Splash in the paddling pool
Splash in the paddling pool

August we had a glorious two weeks in Tenerife. We had made sure to save up money while we still had two wages and made sure to enjoy it. Not sure when we will get a holiday like it again but fingers crossed!

September was a little manic as not only was it back to school but back to school with a second child on the school run as my little man started “big school” for the first time. Settling in hours for his class involved me doing two morning school runs – 9am and 10am and then two school pick ups so I spent alot of September up and down to the school. Weather was still nice so we got out after school as much as we could but it was amazing how we could start to see the evenings start to close in.

Before I knew it we were celebrating my daughter’s 2nd birthday in October and preparing for Halloween. The kids got a week off school for mid term and we managed two nights in the Carrickdale hotel about an hour away on the border with the North.

November I began my hibernation – I always feel like that in winter – dark evenings, cold weather and going out is only for necessity. That said we decided to do a house extension that we had hemmed and hawed about for a while and that kicked off on 7th November. It was a race against getting the builders out for my 13th December Christmas tree putting up target.

A new room emerges
A new room emerges

True to their word they were out on time and we got the house arranged for Christmas. Ok, the floors needed to be sanded and varnished and the walls painted as we now have that attractive plaster look but that could wait. The bulk of the build was done and there was some indulgence to be had over the festive season. We had a lovely Christmas and New Year.

First week back to routine was tough – particularly as I decided that was the time to sand and varnish all the floors and we had to clear all furniture from our downstairs and with only a small section of tiled area in the kitchen our couch, sideboard, dining table and chairs all had to be piled in there. We moved out for 2 nights. Between not being able to access our kitchen and the fumes from the varnish it was a good move. We are now back on track and after a great start to this week with my first national newspaper publication I am off to find a painter to complete the renovation.

I have loads of other “projects” to keep me busy thereafter – I want to clear out the kids clothes, clear out my own clothes, organise my online photos, print some photos and arrange some actual real pictures on the wall! The list goes on. It’s the things that you never get a chance to get around to when working full time. I am hoping to dip into a few of them over the coming weeks and months.

Of course I want to keep developing Learner Mama. The first six months on my career break have taken the blog from pretty much only being read by myself and my husband to having a much wider audience and looking at my stats an international audience which is great and I want to keep posting and growing and developing.

I had always said the real test of my enjoyment of life as a stay at home mammy would be when the dark nights and cold weather hit. It was all very well swanning around Costa del Donabate as if on a permanent holiday but doing school runs in the freezing rain and gale force winds that would certainly test my resolve. Yet here I am at the mid way mark and I have never been happier.

Of course there are things I miss. The money for one! It has been a big thing for us to go from two relatively good incomes to only one, but with a bit of careful budgeting and being much more careful with the money we do have it has been fine. There are moments I also miss that buzz of being around the office and chatting with colleagues and picking up the challenges that work brings but I try to ensure I meet up with some of my friends who are on maternity leave / 4 day weeks etc, keep blogging away to keep my brain active and enjoy the time with my kids that I will never get back again

I have to give 3 months notice of my intentions at the end of the career break which means I have to make a decision by mid April about going back or requesting further time. A lot can happen in the next 3 months but I have no doubt they will fly by as fast as the first 6 months did. I have an inkling of what I might be doing – will let you know once I have made my decision!

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