Little one starting school? What to do with all that new me-time

by Natalie
Mums Off Duty

Are you a mama with a little one starting school? Are you feeling all kinds of ways about it, like me?

It’s a big moment for all parents. Your baby is heading off into the world. Okay, that sounds a little dramatic but you know what I mean. All we can do is cross our fingers that we’ve done a good enough job of preparing them. We’ve done our best. We can’t do more than that.

If you’re a stay-at-home-mum, this milestone is likely to be even more poignant, as you’re suddenly faced with an eerily quiet house (unless you’ve already filled that silence nicely with a new baby!).

So much me-time! What now?

So this is it. In the words (sort of) of Martine McCutcheon, this is your moment. Your time. The time you’ve been thinking about/talking about/longing for/dreading, probably in roughly equal measures. You’re going to have six whole hours a day to yourself. Six! Me-time in abundance (housework and general life-admin aside). What do you do now?

As school takes over looking after your child’s needs during the day, you now have a more dedicated chunk of time to focus on you. Take this time to clear your head and reboot.

During that process, think carefully about what you really need and want from your life at this point. It will probably feel odd thinking about you for a change but honestly, you’ve earned this so please make sure that you commit to putting yourself firmly back on your list of priorities.

Back to work

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Do finances dictate that you need to get back into the workforce as soon as possible? Do you want to return to your  pre-motherhood career, or is this a good opportunity to venture off in a new direction?

Have confidence in yourself that you are still competent and capable to succeed in the world of work. Through motherhood, you’ve probably actually honed vital skills, such as project and time management, not to mention negotiating skills! Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there.

Flexible working is, surely, the dream of most parents. There’s a real push happening at the moment towards more flexible working, and although I think it will take some time to get there, we are headed in the right direction at least.

If the momentum of the current #workthatworks and #flexappeal campaigns continue, there will hopefully be an increasing number of flexible job opportunities arising for us mums, to fit around the school day and holidays. Fingers crossed.

Learn some new stuff

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If finances are not quite so pressing, and you can afford some breathing space, are there courses you could take to prepare you for getting back into work? Have you realised that you have a real passion for something and you’d like to pursue it as a career, but don’t have the necessary qualifications?

Check out available courses at your local education and training centres, or the wealth of courses available online, to get your skills bang up to date. I’d recommend making sure the courses are accredited so you have something to show for your efforts. This will give you a much needed confidence boost when going for those first job offers.

Back on the subject of flexible working (that Holy Grail), there are even specific courses available for mums looking for a new flexible career. The fantastic Digital Mums, for example, train mums to be freelance social media managers.

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed about starting your own business? Now could be the perfect opportunity. Get researching and prepare to make that dream come true.

What’s your passion?

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If you’re lucky enough to be free from the constraints of making money, then the world really is your oyster. Enjoy your new-found me-time, follow those passions and do whatever your heart desires!

Charity work can be extremely rewarding, especially if you find a cause close to your heart. I’ve been lucky enough to meet the amazing staff at Garden House Hospice Care in Letchworth, and I know just how grateful they are to their brilliant volunteers who give up a little bit of their time each month to support the fundraising team’s efforts.

Do you have a particular hobby that you’d like to pursue? Find a local class where you can meet people with similar interests.

Design your best life

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Sending them off to school is an emotional time. I certainly won’t be wearing mascara when I drop my son off for his first day.

It’s a whole new chapter in their lives, and you should congratulate yourself on a job well done. Remember that it is also a whole new chapter in yours. Take this opportunity and grab it with both hands.

“Design your best life.” I was introduced to this phrase by the fabulous entrepreneur Jessica Huie MBE. It reminds me that you are in control of your own life, and you have the potential to make the best possible life for you and your family.

There are constraining factors, of course, such as money and health but, ultimately, it is up to you to make the very best of who you are and what you’ve got.

Enjoy this me-time. You deserve it.

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