Returning to work after twins

By Fiona Cain

Since Tracey asked me to write a piece on returning to work, I have struggled to think what I could write about. You see I have returned to work before, back in May 2009, after the birth of my daughter. If I was writing about returning to work then, I would be telling you about applying for a nursery place four months before she was born, only to be told after she had arrived that they were unlikely to have a place for her for 14 months.

At that point I was looking to return to work in 6 – 9 months’ time and I am still waiting to hear back from that nursery 3 years on….. I could also tell you about the frantic panic that ensued and ended up with us having 3 nursery places to choose from. I would also have something to say about how I had to convince my work that I really could contribute to the firm by only working 9am to 5pm 3 days a week and not at least 4 days including a Friday as they wished. This was a job that had regularly seen me in the office late at night! It would also include something about how hard some parents find the settling in period at nursery and struggling to leave their child for the first time or when they are sick.

This time round it was different; I knew what being a working mum involved. Working 3 days a week was tried and tested. I was use to filling my Thursday and Fridays with activities for my daughter and finding Thursday the most tiring day of the week as I changed from mental pace of work to the physical pace of looking after a child.

One big change this time round was employing a nanny. Having 3 children, at that stage all under 3, we decided shortly after the boys were born that nursery was not going to be suitable for our children. Although my daughter had loved her time at nursery and in different circumstances, I would probably have put any singleton through nursery without a second thought, it was not appropriate for us now for a number of reasons. Of course, the cost was a significant factor but it was also the hassle factor. One of the most stressful times of my day had been getting my daughter out of the door and to nursery in good time to find the parking spot outside nursery and for me to get to work. The thought of having to get three children into the car and then unloaded and into nursery, which would until the twins started walking also involve the buggy, was likely to add at least another 30 minutes to my morning on a good day in addition to the extra time required to get them up and dressed (and me looking presentable for work), time I never had to spare anyway.

We therefore decided to embark on finding a nanny. Having made that decision, I then had the frustrating wait before placing our advert. I would have liked to recruit well in advance and before I committed to returning to work but it is the norm to do so only 2-3 months in advance. This was in part because I had decided not to use a nannying agency so to avoid their hefty fees. Unlike virtually all other employees, nannies talk about their pay in net terms i.e. the amount they take home when it comes to agreeing their salary. Therefore whilst paying the nanny might appear affordable at first glance, the extras of income tax and national insurance contributions on top do add up and can come as a shock to some.

We have been very lucky, we have found a fantastic nanny, who I have been happy to leave my children with from day 1. I leave everyone in the morning in the comfort of home, tucking into breakfast and happy. I then get to enjoy the mental challenges that my work offers me (honestly I do and if I didn’t, I really would have questioned whether I should have returned to work with three young children at home). But the best bit of my working day is of course coming home, watching each of them as that smile hits their faces as they realise I am back and sitting on the floor, having three children climb onto me and jostle for the best  position for a cuddle! Well, that and sitting down for 15 minutes to eat my lunch and read Hello in peace.