Nora Conroy lives in Mountmellick (Ireland) where she works as a teacher.
She is married to Jessy and together they have two gorgeous children, Noah and Pippa.
Nora recently sat down with Every Mother Knows to tell us her story.
How old was your first child when you returned to work?
My daughter Pippa was almost 1 when I returned to work. I was very lucky that my school summer holidays (June to August) commenced straight after my maternity leave ended. I returned to work at the end of August 2011 and Pippa turned 1 on the 2nd of September.
Which type of childcare did you arrange?
I chose the local creche "Sonas" for Pippa's childcare. I work and teach locally so I know the staff there and knew I could return to work stress free and that Pippa would have the best care. My mum was/is fantastic and she minded Pippa every Friday and continues to. My mother in law is also fantastic and helps out whenever she can and drops Pippa to after-school.
What was your main motivation to return to work?
Motivation to return to work??!! If I was in a position not to return to work and take the extra unpaid leave I wouldn't have returned! However it was great to get back and see all my students and colleagues and have tea break and lunch time all to myself!
What was your biggest challenge in returning to work?
Biggest challenge was definitely juggling my time/energy (or lack of it!!) between work, Pippa, housework, cooking, cleaning..... the list is endless! Goodbye social life.
Pippa wasn't sleeping the entire night through until she turned 2! It was extremely hard going into work without having had a proper night’s sleep. It was exhausting especially if she was sick. When she had chicken pox and couldn’t attend creche. I had to see if my mum or my mother in law could mind Pippa. My husband wasn’t available - he had returned to college since he was made redundant 2 years earlier. I found it all extremely difficult at times.
What is one piece of advice you could offer to other mothers who are planning to return to work?
One piece of advice I would give mothers returning to work is this: prepare. Do everything the night before - clothes, lunches, organising etc. This saves a lot of time in the morning especially if you have a rough night. Also, if you choose a creche for your baby, make sure you have a backup plan. If your baby is sick and too unwell to attend the creche, you will need alternative childcare arrangements e.g. family/neighbour.
I understand your husband currently works in The Netherlands and you live in Ireland with the two children. How is that for you?
It can be quite lonely and stressful at times. Juggling everything on my own with two children is not always easy. I’m lucky that my mum and mother in law live nearby and they are always there to help if needed.
My husband was offered a fantastic job in Amsterdam and I fully supported his move.
This job is a great opportunity for his career and I’m confident it will pay off in the long run. We have just bought a new house in our dream location so all his hard work has definitively paid off until now.
I also know this is a temporary situation so I look at the bigger picture and... Yes, there is an end in sight!
With that in mind, we try to see each other as often as possible, nearly every other weekend. I look on the bright side and realise that quality beats quantity. My husband and I might not spend much time together these days but we make our time together special. He is very thoughtful and surprised me with flowers on Valentine’s day this year. He never misses an opportunity to show me and the children all his love and affection. Amongst the other things, I’m passionate about photography and travelling so I’m lucky that I can still pursue these, especially when I get to travel over to Amsterdam to see him.
So, you see, there are also some benefits in being in a long distance relationship (laughs)!