In the third and final instalment of our “What’s the story Rebel Prams Mum?” series, Rebel PT Prams in the Park mum, Lyndsey Macphee shares her work/life/baby journey with us!
Work-life before having a baby.
“I trained as a nurse immediately after I left school by doing a 4 year honours degree (there was a 3 year diploma/degree option but as you’ll learn I tend to take the scenic route). From even before I qualified and started full time work I had a clear career goal that I wanted to work toward an extended clinical nursing role rather than the management focused ”ward sister” route that has been so traditional (folk moaning about their rotas just somehow didn’t seem very gratifying). In order to achieve this, after I qualified in 2008 I applied to different bodies for funding to undertake postgraduate study. I started studying at postgraduate level almost immediately at the same time as working.
By the time summer 2013 rolled around I had to decide whether to complete my MSc by writing a REALLY long (20,000 words!) dissertation on a (surely boring) topic of my choice. By this time, educationally fatigued and sick of living at my breakfast bar hunched over a laptop, I decided to exit the course with a diploma in higher education and the option to return within the next 5 years to complete my MSc should I wish- I thought to myself NO chance of me coming back to this-EVER! Around this time I applied for and was offered my first promotion- but there was a catch… Somewhere within the small print: “the successful applicant will be willing to undertake a university level non medical prescribing and administration of chemotherapy course” happy that the courses didn’t start for another year and really wanting the job I gratefully accepted it.
Work-life after having a baby.
I have always thought I would want to be a mum and hoped that if I could get a promoted (better paid) job before I had children it would afford me the luxury of part time work at a decent wage. My hope was that any study that I needed to do would all be done and dusted before I had any children. However, back in the summer of 2016 (Bryan Adams might write a song about it one day), while I was blissfully on maternity leave and was most likely to be found in sunny Hazlehead park squatting and power jacking at Prams in the Park, I got a text about a job opportunity. They were looking for a PART TIME (*party popper emoji*) Advanced Nurse Practitioner in one of the busiest (and friendly) departments in the local hospital. My career goals never changed after having Laurie so I applied. In the interview (the stress of what to wear was unreal- I’d been living in my active wear all year!) everything was going really well I was smiling and nodding, the interview panel were smiling and nodding and THEN my prospective new boss said these dreaded words: “You most likely won’t know about this since you’ve been on maternity leave but the national working group have decided that all advanced nurse practitioners need to have a full MSc ”!! I think, in that moment, I can’t be sure, but I palmed my own head!
After loads of chat about the fact they would pay for me to re-enrol in the course and allow loads of paid study leave I was shaking their hands accepting my dream job but also crying inside that I’d have to do yet more studying with a toddler shouting about Peppa Pig on TV every few minutes. Oh yeah, did I mention that 2 years before this we moved into a bungalow with psychedelic carpets and rooms upstairs that were too small for my husband to stand up in? Just as well he likes a project because that one is now his and his alone…
What does an average week look like for us?
I started work at my new department a week after Laurie’s 1st birthday. If I’m being entirely honest I emotionally could have gone back when she was about 9 months as I was really happy with the childcare arrangements made between the hospital nursery and grandma but I don’t plan on taking much maternity leave in my life so thought I would make the most of it. I work 24 hours a week in ten hour shifts. 2 shifts one week and 3 shifts the next. I work every Thursday and Friday during the day while Laurie is at nursery and the other shifts are a surprise but between dad, grandparents and 4 uncles someone is always available to help out. I absolutely love my job. Although the work/life/study balance is more of a see-saw at the moment, from October when my studies are complete I can see my life will have the perfect balance (perfect for me that is). Not going back to work was never an option for me I have put too much time, effort, sweat and tears (literally) into my career to halt it now. As much as I moan about all these courses I am very fortunate to have never had to put a penny toward any of it.
But, when do you go to bootcamp Lyndsey?!
With so much on my plate something has to give and that is ok. Last year I was signing up to every 10k near Aberdeen and trying to smash out as many PB’s as possible. This year I am happy to get to one bootcamp a week and not have to buy bigger jeans. I think like all parents I struggle with guilt issues. I constantly ask myself if I am working and/or studying too much. Should I be so ambitious because I’m a mum now and Laurie should come first? Should I be spending more time at home baking and making homemade toys? I never come up with an answer but I struggle with these thoughts to a much lesser extent than I know some of my peers do. For perspective, I also like to remind myself that my own mum worked part-time throughout my childhood and I have often thought that it must have had a positive impact on my work ethic. I never once missed my mum while she was at work and in fact I loved sneaking on to golf courses at the 10th hole with my dad to “caddy” on light summer nights or going to watch his amateur football team in Oldmeldrum on a freezing cold Saturday morning (we were oblivious to things like turtle tots and soft play 25 years ago and he still is now). These times are my favourite memories of being with my dad in his younger days. Hopefully Laurie is as blissfully happy as I was watching her dad rip her house apart from the garden while her mum is at work.
I treasure days off with Laurie now more than I ever did on maternity leave. It was a lovely sunny day yesterday and my only day this month where we had nothing planned at all. We had a long lie and then spent all day in the garden washing windows, weeding, pretending to be lions and looking at beasties- it was bliss. I also love when I come home after a long day she is in her PJ’s and I get to spend the last 10 mins of her day with her before bed having a cuddle and reading stories.
Give us a #toptip for work/life.
I have been asked what my top tips for juggling everything are. Planing, planning and a bit more planning. We have a shared family calendar app where we enter all Laurie’s activities, my shifts, any nights out etc. I now sit down for an hour every week and plan all the family activities and meals round my shifts i.e. stir fry on a working day versus spanish chicken in the slow cooker on my day off. You can share shopping lists and meal plans which means the first one home can start tea and supermarket trips can be shared.
Lastly, what would I say to someone who was thinking of studying whilst being a working mum? “Don’t be daft”. I’m joking of course but if you are going to make such a huge commitment I would urge you to make sure it is 100% what you want to do and remind yourself why you are doing it.” #RebelLife