Please Look After This Pudding – Off to the Childminder

It’s Puddings first day settling in with her new childminder today. I spent a long time looking at childcare for her. As a parent it’s so difficult to hand over your precious little baby to some one else. To trust that they will provide the same standard of care that you do. In truth my new childminder will probably give Pud more time and attention than I do. She won’t be flying all over the place, trying to sort the house out and get the food shop done!

The lady that will be caring for Pud seems to share my child-raising values. I think that’s what really clinched the deal for me. Not just the hundreds of qualifications or the beautiful set up in her home. She’s a sensible, practical person like myself. Not overly mumsy or fussy. I know she will care for Pud in a way that is similar to my own mothering style. She won’t wrap her in cotton wool or make her into a pampered princess. Most of all she doesn’t make me feel like I am a ‘bad’ mum for going back to work.

Making the decision to go back to work full-time will have a huge impact on all of us. For me personally it is giving me back my drive and passion. I believe it will make me a better mother. Having an outlet for my myself will enable me to enjoy the children more. Rather than feeling, as I often do, that I am a slave to their every need, with no time for myself. Is that selfish? Possibly. But as much as I love them, my children do not define who I am as a woman.

Don’t get me wrong, handing Pud to the childminder this morning was tough. Not for Pudding, but for me. As I drove away I couldn’t help but feel that this was the end of a chapter in my life and Puddings’. No longer will we be girls together all week while Pie is at school. She will be out on her own adventures, learning new things from another person who isn’t me. Undoubtedly I will miss those first steps that I have been waiting for these last few weeks. I probably won’t hear her first proper word. It makes me sad. But I also know that in the long term this will be good for her. She will get to socialise with other kids and learn to trust other people.

I know I have picked the right person to look after my little Pudding. When I go back to collect her in a couple of hours she will I am sure have had a lovely time. In the meantime I am going to try to swallow that mummy guilt. Drink a hot coffee and enjoy a deep bath (without the addition of plastic toys…) We will enjoy our last full week together and then get ready to embark on a new big adventure. We might not be hand in hand all the time but at least we will be walking in the same direction.

Nurse or Mum is it time to choose between the two?

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I find myself in serious contemplation of my career. A career I have worked hard for, but that now appears inflexible and a destructive influence on my family. How many times can I leave my four-year old in tears, carefully remove his arms from my waist and whisper ‘Sorry darling, Mummy has to go to work’. To shut the door and still hear his sobs of ‘don’t go again Mum…’

The problem is that no matter what people say nursing does not lend itself to a family friendly life. The shifts are long and unpredictable. The work itself is both mentally and physically draining. I personally can’t walk out of the hospital door without thinking about my patients and their families. Being a nurse for many is a vocation. It’s not just a job, or a profession. The training is hard, the job is harder. You have to love what you do, or you just wouldn’t keep doing it. Always chronically understaffed and overworked, the patients come first. Other people’s families constantly put above your own.

The level of responsibility I and my fellow nurses have is huge. No longer are we the profession so often portrayed in old films. You know the ones where we meekly follow the Doctors round and do their bidding. That went out the window with our hats and aprons many years ago. Nurses are now more autonomous, more skilled and more educated than they ever have been. In my opinion this is fantastic but it comes at a price. That price is stress. A stress that grows almost unseen, but bubbles over into family life.

Here we have a profession that is predominantly made up of women, that doesn’t lend itself in any way to family life. Lets face it flexible working isn’t an option. I can just imagine my managers face if I said I wanted to come in at 10am some days or finish at 5pm. I would have to pick her up off the floor she would be laughing so hard! Patients need 24 hour care, nurses have to provide this.

Obviously I can’t work from home that is a ridiculous notion. Where would I put all the equipment? Besides I can’t see the ward round stopping by my house to make a plan of care or the x-ray team trundling up my drive… So flexi-homeworking not an option. Of course we are a minority in that our family has two nurses that work inflexible long shifts, which only compounds the problems. Some one is always tired, someone is always at work and both of us are inevitably stressed!

Is this my choice? Well kind of but not really. I often think that if I really had a choice I wouldn’t go to work. But then I remember that I like having my own money and I like having something that is mine and not the children’s. It’s not a selfish thing to want to have some time where I am a nurse and not ‘Mum’. I think in many ways it makes me a better Mum when I return to the children. Or it would if I wasn’t so shattered after work! But the children hate it. I hand my children over to my husband like I handover my patients to my colleagues at the end of my shift.

No one I speak to has the answer. It feels as though the day is coming when I will need to make a decision. I either am a nurse or I am a mother. I raise my children, but lose everything I have worked to achieve. There doesn’t appear to be a happy medium for me. Its my career or my kids. There is no competition in my eyes. If somethings got to give I know what it will be. That doesn’t make it ok and it doesn’t make it any easier.

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Equality for Women: Is it all about the money?

I was invited this week to talk on BBC radio about equal pay for women. It was an interesting experience hearing myself on the radio. It also made me think. Until the question was raised by Nick Robinson about the difference in mine and my husbands pay I had never really thought about it. You see Mr Pud and I work in the same field so it’s easy to make a comparison between our wages. Obviously I don’t make as much as he does as I work part-time following the birth of our two children. It doesn’t worry me that he makes more than I do. After all he shoulders the majority of the bills and its ‘our’ money. But it did get me thinking.

Having our children was a joint decision. As was me reducing my hours at work to take on my new mothering role. However, I never really contemplated the effect going part-time would have on my career. It’s not just my monthly income. Being part-time means I am often overlooked for extra opportunities, such as training or extending my role into management. Almost like I am not considered a valuable member of the team. Not worth investing in because I am too involved in raising my kids. I can see that this is why my husbands role has far outstripped my own. The opportunities he has had would never be offered to a part-time employee. Don’t get me wrong he has worked so hard and deserves to be where he is. But what now for me?

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I love my children, they are my world. But it does feel as though they are now the only world I am allowed to have. Labelled a part-timer and a mother. A label that on closer inspection is holding my career back. Perhaps I am to blame. In all honesty I don’t want to have to be out of the house longer than my contracted hours. Equally so I don’t want to stagnate in my role. Or to lose my passion and drive in a career that I have worked so hard to achieve.

For me it’s not about the gender pay gap. Of course my husband earns more than me, he works more hours than I do. But this feeling of being a lesser member of the team because of my reduced hours is damaging. I can feel my lack of confidence growing at work. The anxiety I have begun to feel about my job has made me reconsider my decision to work at all. Some days it feels that despite my best efforts I am failing. Failing at my career, failing as a mother and failing myself. I always dreamed that I would achieve great things. That one day I would be Chief Nurse in a forward thinking innovative NHS. I can’t even imagine that now.

“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do or achieve. Do what you want to do and be who you want to be. Just en

It is not just the gender pay gap that is holding women back. How can we reach true equality for women when we cannot support part-time employees in the work place? I know myself that working part-time does not mean that a woman lacks passion or ambition. The biggest hurdle for gender equality is providing equal opportunities. Offering career pathways that include flexible training around reduced hours. Realising that part-time doesn’t mean less dedication.   Equality is not all about the money, it’s about feeling equally valued in the workplace.

To My Baby on My Return to Work

Dearest Pudding,

I have something to tell you. I can’t say it out loud because I can’t bare to hear it spoken. I know I have whispered it into your ear at night. My darling Mummy has to go back to work this week.

I won’t be here when you wake. I won’t be there to respond to your cooing. To wrap you in my arms and kiss you. Too peep round the corner and say ‘morning’ in that way that makes you smile. I will miss that first ‘eeeeEEE’ of excitement at a new day. There will be no snuggles on the bed while we both have a drink.

In fact my sweetheart you won’t see me all day. I won’t be back before bed time. You won’t get to splash me in the bath. Or dance around the kitchen to some amazing 80s pop. There will be no last bedtime cuddle before we put Ewan on. No last minute whispers of a I love you before you close your eyes.

I am sorry Mummy’s girl. But I have to go. Just know that I will miss you. That I will think of you far more often than you think of me. I will picture your smile and hear your laugh. Of course I shall bore my colleagues with pictures of you. Unfortunately there are other babies who need me too. Smaller and sicker, more fragile than you. I know it’s not easy for Mummy to be gone all day. But Daddy and Pie will be here to play.

I will be back tonight, although you won’t see me. You won’t hear me creep into your room and kiss you goodnight. Just remember I love you, my beautiful girl. You and your brother are my entire world.

Love Mummy

Diary of an imperfect mum

The Great Childcare Juggle

Today I took the kids out to catch up with a few work colleagues, the one real positive to being a nurse and having children is that with a workforce predominantly comprising of women there are always a group of you off on maternity leave at the same time. Obviously this causes some severe issues for management when we go off in droves from the same ward, especially in specialist areas where skill mix is usually an ongoing battle. Although we all feel for managers in their day to day struggles (!) we enjoy nothing better than moaning about work issues when we all get together for a coffee! Unfortunately for the majority of us the time comes when we have to return to work and the reality of juggling impossible shift patterns with childcare starts to hit home.

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Most hospitals no longer provide on site creches or nurseries – another cut back to NHS funding I presume. This leaves all the shift workers, not only nurses, in a difficult position. A few years back when the government in their infinite wisdom and thoughtfulness pushed NHS trusts into the idea that continuity of care improved the patient experience hospitals up and down the country moved to what we call in the profession long days and long nights, ie the 12 hour shift, or in non-professional terms all f’ing day or night. Many people find this model is an improvement; as for the majority this means working 3 shifts a week, but for those of us looking for childcare it is at best a nightmare and at worse friggin impossible.

As the babies crawl around and my crazy 4 year old dashes off and rounds up his peers in an almost Lord of the Flies type gang, talk turns to who is going back to work, who has cut their hours and the never ending discussion of why we can’t works set shifts. This is the other major issues with organising child care as a nurse, apart from finding someone or somewhere that will take your child from 6.30am – 9pm, your shifts change from week to week so you don’t always need the same days covered; and weekends? Well you can just go and forget about that. Every nurse I have ever known has always asked for a set rota when she returns to work but I can’t recall any manager agreeing to this – they quote the usual line of requiring flexibility within the service. Surely if everyone was asking for set days then doing the rota would be made easier as they would know exactly who was working which days?! Lets not even get started on the JOY that that is the Christmas rota… Next time someone says we need a 24/7 NHS I am going to stick a bauble in their nose for every Christmas I have worked! And childcare, now that really would be a Christmas miracle (mind you so would having the whole of Christmas off….)

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Therefore most nurses are left to juggle childcare between family, partners and a couple of set days at nursery or with a childminder – but what happens when like us you don’t have family just down the road? Oh and to make matters worse you are both expected to work changing shift patterns of long days, nights and weekends? Well I can tell you that it is logistical madness and most months result in me rocking in a corner and muttering to myself. Favours are called in, shifts are swapped, sleep is usually severely lacking as one of us works days and one works nights, we often pass each other like ships in the night. Our use of childcare is usually so that one of us can grab a few hours kip before a shift. Now that our eldest child attends preschool it’s even worse, yes we get those precious 15 hours free every week but the times for school are even less helpful than private child care and for the first time ever we have to contend with school holidays! I dread the end of my maternity leave this time, juggling one child was a miracle, juggling two? I can’t even begin to imagine it….

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Papa Pudding

So Mum left me again this week, apparently she had to go work and look after someone else’s baby for 12 hours. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed – I mean why would she choose to do that?! Anyway I was left with the boys, it was a Papa Pudding day…

Dad and Pudding
I have to say I was quite impressed with how the day began, Daddy was up and ready with milk as soon as I made a murmur. This is a huge improvement, Mum usually leaves me to coo and gurgle for 10 minutes! Even better with no Mummy in bed I got to snuggle into her pillow and once I had finished my bottle, I was so comfy I fell fast asleep. Next thing I knew Pie was curled up next to me watching Kung Fu Panda whilst Dad dived in the shower.

Next up was getting dressed, for some reason Dad thought letting Pie choose my clothes was a good idea… Hmm well we started off with just a tshirt and one red sock, glad to see Dad suggest we might need some more items! However; I couldn’t believe it when they finally agreed on a pair of tights and a tshirt. How is that an outfit?! What would my adoring public say? Let alone my own mother?? Still with me apparently dressed they moved on to tackling my slightly mad hair – it really is out of control at the moment. Dad managed to find a video on YouTube so he attempted to tame my mop with a hair clip, I have to say he did an ok job, even though it kind of cemented the trollesk thing I have going on!

Finally we got out of the house – Dad even managed to get my bag packed with all my stuff. We headed into town me bouncing along in my pram, I did try to explain its a pram not a racing car but it fell on deaf ears as he and Pie were harping on about Star Wars again. I was pretty chuffed when we stopped for lunch, apparently Daddy days mean those big yellow arches. Pie was super excited, and I couldn’t wait to chomp on a fry and slurp some milkshake – but what’s this? No way, all I am getting is some slightly cold formula, you have to be joking….

After lunch we popped into see Mummy, she was pretty busy but I got a quick cuddle, she said she missed me but I was too busy being mad at her to smile. Besides I was tired it had been a busy day, when we got home I just couldn’t drift off so I spent the majority of the afternoon screaming at Daddy! I perked up at bath time and I enjoyed tea in the garden, all in all a successful day with Dad, I guess Mum going back to work will be ok…

Love Pudding xx

Mum’s I Meet

In my four short years of motherhood I have spent a lot of time attending groups, coffee mornings and soft plays, I have seen all sorts of Mums, each one navigating there own way through the parenting jungle. It would appear that a Mum can fall into 6 categories – which one are you?!

Frazzled Mum

Ah this is the Mum with a slightly harrassed look on her face, usually juggling a small baby on her knee, whilst attempting to stop her threenager from lobbing his lunch all over the floor. She looks down right tired and is clearly in need of a pamper day, a hair brush and some new clothes. This poor lady has probably not looked in the mirror for two days and has no idea that she currently has baby sick down her back. Don’t judge her, we all have days like this, especially when we up the ante from one baby to two!

FreeStyling Natural Mum


Now this Mum is the one that you see in all the baby magazines, she has her hair loose and flowing over her shoulders, wearing a beautiful maxi dress. Her ability to calmly control all of her 7 children leaves you staring in wonderment, which turns to amazement when she informs you that she grows all her own vegetables and raises chickens. A firm believer in co-sleeping and breastfeeding she  really is the epitany of the Earth Mother, you kind of want to hate her and her perfectness but then she offers you some homemade pie!

Geek Mum


Everyone kind of needs a geeky-mum, you know the ones that have read every article about every baby related thing on the planet. They are a font of knowledge for baby buys, baby wearing, weaning, colic and postnatal blues. These are the mum’s that run groups and know how to get you into the best play group, nursery or school. Sometimes their know-it-allness can really get your back up but you realise that they don’t mean to be so annoying they just want to help!

Fashionista Mum


You will never know how these Mum’s do it – they rock up to soft play or playgroup looking like something off of Mum vogue. They are the only Mums’ who can pull off the top knot and joggers without looking like something out of Little Britain, don’t be fooled into emulating them. It’s like trying to copy the flawless model in a magazine. Their kids are always clean and impeccably dressed too, and they don’t carry a mammoth sized changing bag, they have a stylish Michael Kors draped over their arm and Prada sunglasses on their head. You could easily be fooled into thinking that this Mum is the embodiment of the ‘cool’ girls in your secondary school – but actually when you start chatting you realise like the rest of us she is just a Mum (all be it a slightly more refined model).



We would all love to be this Mum, she gets to school on time every morning with her child in the correct uniform, home made super healthy lunch and the required art project tucked under her arm. Her children have slept through the night since they were 8 weeks old and eat broccoli willingly. Some how this Mum finds the energy to attend every baby class, hold coffee mornings and help out in the playground at lunchtime – seriously SuperMum we applaud you!



You will see this Mum whizzing down the road in her beautiful suit and high heels with her face fully made up, dropping her little darling at nursery before dashing off to the office. She expresses milk in her lunch hour and is always home for bedtime. When she finally gets some time off she is the one crawling through the soft play area or chasing her kids round the farm. Don’t be fooled into thinking this Mum isn’t in need of a friend just because she looks busy, we all need a buddy to help us through!

Mothering is a tough job and we all need a little support from other Mum’s to help us through the highs and lows, a good network of friends can see you through the most difficult times. It’s tough, but get yourself out there and meet your own Mummy Tribe, we recommend one from each category 🙂

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