My Autumn

Ahh, autumn. I do like autumn. I like the sense of change that’s in the air. After my mini breakdown last week, I’ve done a lot of thinking and talking and reasoning and more thinking… And I’ve come to the decision to leave my job looking after other people’s children and concentrate on caring more for my own. It feels like the right time.

I had already cut down my hours to three mornings per week, but my workplace had changed since the summer, and not for the better. The atmosphere was somewhat toxic and, I think, contributing to my anxiety. So, after a good deal of discussion with Dave, I decided that I need to focus on the children, our marriage and me. Maybe in that order. Maybe not.

Financially it won’t make a huge difference – working with young children isn’t a job you do for the fantastic wages. But it will mean some belt-tightening will need to take place to make sure we don’t get in a mess.

The difference I’m hoping  it will make is that I will be more present and engaged. More time to make our home clean and tidy – something it rarely ever is. I’m not daft, I have two kids and I know that it will never be pristine, but to have it at the sort of standard where I can say “yeah, come round for a cuppa!” would be nice, instead of the palpitations that ensue in its current state when someone says they’ll pop round with little warning .

All those assemblies, Christmas and end-of-term plays, parent workshops and more at school? No problem! No more having to sub in a grandparent because Mommy and Daddy are working and can’t make it.  Meetings about Tink won’t result in me begging for time off – very much frowned upon when I was only working in school term time anyway. I can be anywhere, any place, any time. And those courses I keep getting invited to do? Sign me up!  I’ll be able to go to support groups and coffee mornings and get to know more of the local ‘autism parent’ community. I might not feel quite so alone. I can meet up with friends – I’ve had several offers since people found out how much I’ve been struggling, which is lovely.

I’m really looking forward to spending better quality time with Tink in the afternoons for a few more weeks, until she starts spending all day at Nursery. We don’t have long before picking H up from school, but at the moment we seem to spend it winding down from our respective mornings, Tink playing on her tablet, me catching up on news/Facebook /emails. I want to enjoy being with her more before I lose her into the education system full time.

I might even find a hobby. Maybe get out and about with my camera and see if I can hone find my photography skills. Maybe I’ll get into some sort of exercise. I certainly need to, for my physical and my mental health. Maybe I’ll start cooking fabulous meals that Tink will never eat! I might even have more time for writing!

There are benefits for others too; my parents can be properly retired, instead of ‘retired childminders’; they’ll be able to go off on a whim instead of being dictated to by our working patterns. Dave will, hopefully, have a wife who isn’t as stressed about trying to do it all, all of the time. He might even get out of cooking duties some evenings if he’s lucky! And, of course, the children will have a mother who is available. Happy. Ready to tackle homework and reading, as well as doing more fun stuff at the weekends instead of running round chasing my tail.

Of course, there is another side to the coin. I’m trying not to think of them as ‘negatives’ though. I’ve never not worked before, apart from my maternity leaves. But then I had teeny babies to look after, so it’s not as if I was sitting around on my arse eating biscuits all day. Much. I was made redundant about 11 years ago, and went into an awful job I left after five weeks, but even then I signed up with temp agencies straight away. It might take some adjusting to get used to not working but not feeling lazy too.

Then there’s the financial aspect. We are in a very fortunate position that, if I have done my sums correctly, we should be okay to cover the outgoings and have enough left to feed ourselves, heat the house, put diesel in the car and so on. As long as we’re careful and budget more tightly than we do now. Which is not at all. But events such as birthdays and Christmas will take a bit more thought and saving than previously.

And what about the boredom? What if I don’t enjoy my own company as much as I think I do? What if I miss the daily adult conversation with work colleagues? I’ve made some wonderful friends at this last job, and I really hope we’ll stay in touch. Tink’s speech is improving all the time, but a proper conversation is still a long way off! The answer to those questions, I guess, is to work again – whether it be paid or even voluntary. But I’ll cross that bridge if and when I come to it. For now, I’m going to enjoy it. Bring on my autumn!

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