Next week my friend is returning to work, part-time, after a year of maternity leave. For many women in her position, the prospect of daily adult interaction is a major incentive to get back to the day job. But there can also be the worry that, after months at home with a totally different set of responsibilities, the structures and procedures that dominate the workplace will seem either overwhelming or annoyingly trivial. I asked my friend how she was feeling about it all. Surprisingly, she didn't have much to say about these usual considerations. She had a quite different perspective on the whole situation.
“I'm really looking forward to having all my exercise built into my day, and not having to worry about finding time to do it," she enthused. “What with cycling all the way across town to the nursery, then into work, then back up the hill [a 2-mile-long hill!] to nursery, and all the way home, I'm going to be cycling almost 100 miles a week!” She was visibly joyful.
My friend is a talented rower and used to spend most evenings on the river, as well as going on training runs a few times a week. After a difficult birth she had to take things really easy for about six months, and since then she’s had few opportunities to get out and exercise properly. She managed to hook up her road bike to a contraption that turned it into an exercise bike, so she’s been able to do a bit of cycling in the kitchen (between baby naps) and through that she’s recovered some of her pre-pregnancy fitness. But the opportunity to cycle outside, with a clear purpose (i.e. avoiding being late for work or the nursery pick-up), and not to have to worry about who’s looking after the baby while she does, has made her feel great. The 18-mile daily round trip will be a challenge, despite the nursery staff allowing her to leave her trailer locked up there so that she doesn’t have the added burden of pulling it up the hill post-work.
By the sounds of it, a new challenge is exactly what she’s ready for.