I’ve always loved Christmas. For 364 days of the year I am full of cynicism, but I put all that aside for one day of the year, and embrace the time with family, complete with squabbles over who gets the most custard on their pudding. This year, the Christmas season has been made even more wonderful because of extra time with missy. I have found myself grieving for my maternity leave, which ended nearly five months ago. I also felt a little robbed of my last two weeks of mat. leave, as childcare orientation meant less Mumma time.

The time with miss has been wonderful. It really has. But it’s not without its challenges. Little miss independence needs to be watched constantly, as she attempts to climb down steps that are too big and follows the big kids without any inkling that she might not be capable of doing what they do. I love her for her confidence and her independence.

Two weeks with family also means a little bit more reliance on Mumma and Dadda, and I have watched little miss go from confident strides on her own to hanging onto my leg, and begging to be carried. Along with that comes tantrums, and a testing of Mumma’s patience. It has led me to a realisation I didn’t expect. I’m a better parent when I’m working.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my girl. I really do. But when it’s constant, 24/7, my patience is exhausted more quickly, I don’t truly appreciate the neediness that crops up as she clings to me, and I find it hard to keep up with the unending energy of a one-year-old. When I’m at work, I treasure those demands for being held, I run after her with laughter bubbling out of me, I go out of my way to make each and every moment we have special.

I have so much respect for stay-at-home parents. But it’s not for me. And I think knowing that, and realising that is a good thing. So, today is the last day of my holiday, and while I feel sad I am going back to work, and am going out of my way to make today a fun day of parks, babycinos and endless Mumma attention, I am also looking forward to getting back into routine. A place where weekends are treasures we make the most of, patience is infinite, and clinging to the leg leads to a long, long cuddle with my girl.

Next: Returning to work