9-5 Outside the City Walls

Kensington Park - Jenny Rollo

For the first time in a long time, I am not in a hurry. I no longer sweat when I arrive on the Tube platform, having power walked from my flat.  I no longer set my watch seven minutes ahead so that I am never late, and I no longer demolish people with my eyes as I walk down the street, daring them to get in my way.

All in all, I have become a stroller. I even look up now. I notice things and observe. Having spent so long running down the Tube escalator on the left, I now leisurely stand on the right. If I hear a train approaching I no longer run and push people out of the way. I remain calm and where I am and simply get the next train.

I am now comfortably eight weeks into my career break. Well, not really a break in the conventional form as I am doing project work for my next company. But seeing as I will not be entering an office on a daily basis until sometime next April, this is definitely some kind of break. Getting up each morning to sunshine rather than darkness is by far the biggest luxury I have ever had. The winter blues which used to hit so hard are now actually a welcome seasonal benefit, as the days are much shorter to fill up. Also, it’s the Christmas season, which means that nearly every night I am out with old friends and old colleagues making what was an unbearable month last year the festive and fun month it is supposed to be.

So what am I saying? Am I saying that after two months I have finally unwound? Well...no. In all seriousness, I think it’s going to take longer than two months to completely decompress. But I am also fairly positive that by next April I am going to be gagging to get back into the office. The banter, the jokes, the routine of it all, and let’s not forget the sheer thrill of closing a deal. I used to talk all day, every day for a living. Now I talk to my dog and the fellow dog walkers who also work from home and have become my new 'work' friends.

I also have to contend with a whole new breed: the yummy mummies and their nannies. Let me tell you that some of these women make the City boys I used to deal with on daily basis look like child’s play. Not only are they dressed impeccably, always looking classy and stylish, but you can never quite pinpoint what label they are wearing - always a sign of a true professional. They are also balancing their Cafe Nero skinny lattes with a fluent French-speaking child and a miniature schnauzer and they never spill a drop. Their 9-5 is very different from what mine used to be, but I can tell you right now, their work ethic and schedules are no less formidable.

So while I am truly enjoying not being rushed off my feet, I am also confident that when I do re-enter the work world next April, I will do so knowing it's by far the easier route. When you are working 60 hour weeks, you can justify a lot of bad behaviour and poor grooming. However, when you are a yummy mummy living in a certain post code you don’t get too many 'off' days or drunken Thursday nights out with your 'work' mates, and there is certainly no career break.