This week I started a new job - the first time I’ve worked full-time for about ten years. So yeah, culture shock. The main way I have prepared for this life-changing event has been through developing a colour-coded childcare spreadsheet which impresses even my most anally-retentive leanings. Possibly The Childcare System frightens me more each time I look at it and, what with more INSET days than I thought it was possible to cram into a term, it seems likely that it will test the goodwill of our families to the limit. But week one and there have been no sickness bugs. [punches air] Although two weeks into term and everyone is doing a nice job of developing hacking coughs.
So, going back to work then. Obviously ten years on and my old working wardrobe has seen better days, so I have eked out this week trying to smart-casualise my interview suit (it’s a thing), while doing some participation observation of what everyone else is wearing (more funky, yet smarter, gear than me). The night before my first day I was, predictably, a nervous wreck, a situation which I countered with some hardcore school uniform labelling - a job during which it is impossible not to get obsessed with how variable the quality of labels are these days. And of course asking myself, yet again, why I never invested in a permanent marker. The journey to work, planned out to within an inch of its life, turned into a farce. A journey that should take 40 minutes took 2 hours. So professionalism. I now realise that my first day travel arrangements fall into the category of doomed. My first ever day at the job I did before children was victim to a freak storm with all trains from the South into London cancelled. You couldn’t make this stuff up. I spent most of the day inexplicably stuck in Fareham, which is neither near my house, not - obviously - London. Perhaps I should endeavour never to change jobs again.
But when I finally arrived at work, considerably more flustered than I’d hoped, my boss was nothing but lovely about it. And when she showed me my office (my OWN office!! Headspace, luxury of the highest order), with loads of light and yellow roses, she fast became the best boss ever. Did I mention the sign on my door?? For the first time in years, I felt like a grown-up, not just someone who is failing at the social minefield of the playground, and sending the kids to about 30 less activities than they deserve. Of course, at first I barely understood a word of what was going on, so badly was I drowning in information, but by day 4 I felt like I was surfacing from the black hole of moving to a new computer, and actually starting to produce work that wasn’t completely leftfield. There has actually been time to plan and finish tasks! This bit has been a revelation - part-time, I was constantly in guilt mode that I wasn’t pulling my weight compared to colleagues who were in every day, and desperately working into the early hours trying to compensate. It has in fact been that rare and treasured thing of a good first week, helped no end by my colleagues, who, without exception, have all been interesting, welcoming, and had a healthy dose of self-depreciation. And going out to lunch, every day! What, really, is not to like in this situation??
All of which made me feel slightly guilty about how happy I felt coming home on Friday, as it’s obviously been a big change for everyone. Every minute of the week is now structured. I get up earlier and cack-handedly blitz the domestic stuff I would usually have done after the school run, drop everyone off at the bus-stop and school, before driving into work (an unanticipated bonus has been the extra dose of Radio 4 I get in my day). And then we have The System to rule the after-school period, after which Charlie picks them all up and deals with baths, sandwich boxes and supper. It’s this end of the day that I appreciate I’ve had the good deal on so far. No more the after-school gumpiness – when I get home my children are all fed, and full of hugs and a zillion things to tell me. Long may it last, for this bit is amazing. And then we launch into another hour or so of manic activity before bedtime. God, that Friday night beer was good this week!
I had thought that this weekend would be all lie-ins and chilling. But it turns out that you just need to squeeze in more of the stuff you’d normally do during the week. Dur! And I have not even begun to think about what a hovel our house is looking like, or how neglected my friends and family are. One step at a time …
This week I am very lucky to the Newbie Showcase on PoCoLo, which the lovely Rachel at Umeandthekids is so ably hosting while Vicky's off enjoying the sun. So please do join in with all the wonderful bloggers over there this week: