Following on from her previous post 'Keep Calm and Career On', RQ accepted the game-changing opportunity in November 2013, including flexible working arrangements. But like the buses she now catches as part of her daily commute, the opportunities came all at once. After months of closed doors and dead ends, RQ was invited to several job interviews in the space of two weeks. This flurry of activity coincided with settling on a house purchase, renovating, moving, and surviving a spate of illness that took down the family one by one, making December 2013 one hectic month. But after many trials and (quite a few) errors, RQ and family have finally found their feet.
RQ said: "I've always wondered how workforce mums managed to hold a family together and a job down at the same time. Now I'm finding out. It's not easy, but it's far more manageable with some sort of routine in place.
"It was our old routine that got us through all the adjustments of moving house - sticking to meal times, nap times, bed times and all the little things in between. And to be honest, those things haven't changed, which has made the transition surprisingly smooth.
"But I have to admit, my new 'work' routine does have its challenges. I'm talking, of course, about commuting. In just a couple of months, I've have had (more than) my fair share of commuter 'moments'. You know the ones: when you're walking along in the street and see a big black bull* emerge from the darkness, crazed, dazed and charging towards you and you have no choice but to duck for cover behind a small Vauxhall parked on the curb?
"Then there are the pushers, shovers, nudgers, toe stompers, berker-bag bashers, loud talkers, snorers, seat hogs, pole leaners**, shoulder-shelfers***, music blasters, silent wind-breakers, garlic-breathers, nose-pickers, and let's-av-a-chatters. Oh, and how could I forget the flasher. Yes, I was recently flashed and accosted (which I duly reported).
"But you know what - even when coupled with a nerve-racking new-job learning curve, these relatively minor stresses (apart from the bull and flasher) don't even come close to the daily intensity of being a SAHM to two beautiful but backbreaking toddlers.
"I'm privileged and proud to have done it for three years. But in the process of reconnecting with the 'woman' who is their mother, I have - ironically - discovered more of myself to share with them."
RQ added that none of her colleagues have stolen her food, spat it out onto her plate, or attempted in any way to rub boogers into her hair. Instead, she eats a full lunch and enjoys at least one full cup of coffee a day.
"The biggest challenge of being a workforce mum, so far, is trying to find more hours in the day. Clothes still need washing, dinner needs cooking, house needs cleaning, kids need entertaining, blogs need writing (or not, as has been the case), children's books need illustrating. Anyone who's been doing this longer than me knows what I'm talking about.
"I AM convinced more hours in the day do exist somewhere out there, but until I find them it all comes down to one thing to get us through each day. Routine. To be honest, I don't know what we'd do without it."
*Bull turned out to be a heifer that escaped from the local abattoirs and was reportedly returned, slaughtered, and hung to cure which, being a vegetarian-turned-vegan, made me cry a lot.
**People who lean against an entire hand rail to stabilise themselves so NO-ONE else has anything to hold on to
***The people who, while you're seated, use your shoulder as a bum rest or a shelf for resting one's handbag. (Or am I just the lucky one?)