COLUMN: Back to work - and a new reality - after maternity leave

1 Aug 2016.....Sheffield by The Seaside which runs until August 30 at the Peace Gardens. Picture Scott Merrylees
1 Aug 2016.....Sheffield by The Seaside which runs until August 30 at the Peace Gardens. Picture Scott Merrylees

I’m not quite sure how it’s only six months since my daughter was born.

It seems barely a few weeks since I was being raced to the Jessop Wing, making farmyard-esque noises, as she tried to make a very fast exit onto the seat of our Ford Focus.

But here we are, and the newborn who previously did little aside from guzzle milk and sleep is now capable not just of rampaging around the house, but also throwing toy missiles, eating anything in her path, and rugby-tackling her older brother.

Her being six months old also means the end of maternity leave, and a return to the world of work. In many ways I’m glad to be back, as working is undoubtedly less physically demanding than being at home. In the office, nobody vomits on me, nobody smears me in mushed-up avocado, and nobody tries to claw my eyes out with curiously-sharp tiny nails. Well, not ordinarily, anyway (don’t get any ideas, colleagues).

Also, when I’m at work, my life isn’t presided over by a three-year-old dictator firing commands. “Don’t sing, Mummy.” “Hurry up, Mummy.” “We’re going to the park now, Mummy.” If adults want something, they tend to couch their demands in social niceties and be prepared to negotiate. Whereas toddlers get straight to the point, don’t back down, and rarely accept any suggested alternatives.

But while I enjoy the obvious benefits of being back at work – such as using my sleep-deprived brain, the blissful peace of the solo commute and nobody stealing food from my plate at lunchtime – I miss my children. Which is why Sheffield city centre is such a fantastic place to work.

If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have people looking after your children who can bring them into town, then the city centre is a huge playground waiting to be explored, even if there’s only an hour or two to spare. Sheffield By The Seaside is a great option when you’ve been in the office all day and haven’t got the time after work to go to the “real” seaside. And it’s quite a stress buster to join in with the live dance routines after a busy day’s work.

Elephant-spotting with the Herd of Sheffield is another great way to squeeze family time into a busy day. And I have to admit, I get almost as excited about finding the elephants as my three-year-old does.

These attractions are the sort of things it’s easy to take for granted. But Sheffield really does have so much going for it that other major cities don’t. And I, for one, am determined to spend the little slivers of time that I have, during what remains of the summer, enjoying everything the city centre has to offer.