First “day” back at work after maternity!

Mum's 1st "day" back at work after maternity leave - what it was like, how I felt, what happened!

There is light

So today I was back at work. I’m only doing a certain number of days this month and re-entering slowly.

It was all going so well. I got the lovely crowded tube in the morning; it felt great to get back into the old swing of things despite the mass of people and heat on the tube. Stopped off for a coffee, stopped to look at the shops, the trees, the people, acknowledged the absence of small children, screams, whines, sounds, pushing of a buggy like it’s an extra appendage.
Braving the tube: Mum's 1st "day" back at work after maternity leave - what it was like, how I felt, what happened!

Busy tube, morning commute

Walked into the office. People rubbing their eyes in disbelief – “you’re back?!” – well, not quite like that, they were a bit surprised to see me though (despite various emails about when I was coming back). Chatting. Catching up. Enjoying the conversation.
Logging onto the computers – checking and deleting masses of emails that are now out of date and irrelevant. Setting up my diary. Doing all those fiddly things that don’t really seem that important but need to be done and will save you time later.
Planning and longing for my lunch – thinking about going somewhere with comfortable seats and eating a nice tasty lunch, without distraction, demands or uncertainty about whether a child will wake up from their nap, start to get tired and grumpy, etc.
Re-mapping my brain – reading – thinking – trying to connect back up the links, memories, knowledge in my mind where these had somewhat decayed or stagnated over the maternity leave.
How NOT to have a 1st day back at work after maternity leave - what it was like, how I felt, what happened!

Stickers from the hospital

Anyway, It so happened that I’d set up a doctor’s appointment for the toddler because he’d come down with a puffy and red eye. This had started the evening before but looked worse the next morning (my 1st day back). The childcare provider was going to take him to the appointment. I thought everything would be fine as he’s had some redness and problems with his eyes before and i’ve taken him to the doctors (and an eye test). But no, THIS TIME, this time is different. The GP talks to me on the phone. They say that the toddler needs to go to A&E (emergency room) to be checked by the paediatric specialist because she does not want to take any risks with his eye. She said it was more precautionary. So I pack up. Tell my colleagues this news. Feel like it looks like an excuse and maybe i’m not able to leave the kids or something. Rush back to the tube grabbing a sad egg mayonnaise sandwich on the way. Eat sandwich on tube.
Get home, take child out to the hospital (which takes ages to get to). Wait for nurse triage. Wait for doctor. Wait for antibiotic medication and eye drops. Make our way home.
My first day back at work! Wheeee..eee.eee
(psychotherapists might have a field day about this – the attachment – the separation – me rushing back to give pure physical care and some kind of teleological act of caregiving e.g. giving medication, eye drops, sigh)


The toddler’s visit to the optometrist: infant & child eye health

Infant eye health: when should your toddler or child have their eyes tested?So the other day we went to the eye doctor

I was slightly concerned by one the toddler’s eyes (aged 2 years 4.5 months). He kept rubbing it a lot and sometimes one eye looked a bit different to the other. Hard to explain exactly what it was but probably a mild case of me being overly concerned. Anyway… eye tests for under 16 year olds are free on the NHS and I thought it would be good to assess and get a general idea of his eye health and visual development.

As it turned out, both of his eyes are fine. I was unsure about how he would react to the testing; at our last dentist appointment, for example, he refused to open his mouth, although this was over 6 months ago and he’s changed since. We talked about the eye doctor with him a few times in the days before we visited and explained what would happen and that we were just going to check his eyes, just like we check his ears (the term we use when we take his temperature) and to make sure his eyes were OK. Hopefully by likening the new experience to his previous and known experiences this would make the new optometrist experience feel less alien and a normal thing to do.

Infant eye health: when should your toddler or child have their eyes tested?

We got a sticker!

Fortunately the optometrist was very friendly and the session was quite child orientated and we were able to get some good testing done. There were no problems or signs of infection. Next eye check in 1 year!


Here’s what the NHS has to say about children’s eye health and eye tests:

Children may not realise they have a vision problem, so without routine tests there is a risk that any problems could go undiagnosed …

…Eye problems are often much easier to treat if detected while a child’s vision is still developing (usually up to about seven or eight years of age).

When do children have their eyes tested?

  • Within 72 hours of birth 
  • Between six and eight weeks old
  • Around one year old or between two and two-and-a-half years old – as part of the child’s health review
  • Around four or five years old – some children may have an eye test when they start school


It’s also recommended that children have regular eye tests at least once every two years. These tests can be done at a high street opticians and are free for all children under 16 years old (and those under 19 years old in full-time education).

For further information on children’s eyes and eye health see this page here from the NHS



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