Back to Work

Or rather, back to my job. It’s not as if I haven’t been working the past 12 weeks. Today is the last day of my maternity leave and I am feeling very sad. On monday our family of three will adjust to a new normal and sadly I will be forced to adjust to seeing less of my little girl.

On the one hand I am looking forward to going back. I miss my coworkers and will appreciate the adult interaction. I am interested to hear how some of my clients are doing and of course I am looking forward to seeing the kiddos on my caseload. However, I have done the math and I know that the time I see Gracie will be very limited. I am thankful to work for an agency that is supportive of working moms and I will be able to work from home a day each week. I also know that Gracie will be very well taken care of while I am gone and she will be close by.

If I could go back and do the last 12 weeks again, I think I would tell myself to relax (but what new mom wouldn’t go back and say that to herself?). When Gracie was a month old I went to the office Christmas party and at that point I was so ready to go back to work…taking care of a newborn is exhausting! Now, though, everything is so much fun and she is so much more expressive and learning new things. Just this morning she rolled from her tummy to her back.

I’ve been been forced to slow down and take things a day at a time, an hour at a time. I have had the luxury of getting to spend so much one on one time with my daughter for which I am so grateful. A small part of me wishes I would have done more, but really all that matters is that I took care of Gracie and the time I spent with her. I think if I could go back and do anything differently I probably would have spent less of her wake times doing stuff. Now, it was stuff that needed to get done…like putting her laundry away, but still.

I think one thing that will change for the better at work is that I will be more focused. Not that I wasted my time before, but I just know that I will be wanting to get things done so I can get home to the people that really matter. As much as I love my work kiddos I don’t want to see more of them than I do my very own child. I think I will have better boundaries with my time and when I am with clients I am going to be focused on why I am there, get that done, and just leave. I am not going to listen to the same stories over and over and I will not let them suck me into the drama of their lives.

Also, this snow had better be done because one thing I really looked forward to about leave was not driving in treacherous winter weather.

Blog Fodder

I still have hope that maybe eventually I can get this blogging thing down and blog more than once every 2 months. We’ve been in our new (to us) house for just over two months and I am hoping that actually having blog fodder besides my job will help out with more frequent posts. And I finally have a computer that has a battery life again, so I don’t have to stay chained to an outlet. Hello, blogging from bed.

Speaking of work and blog fodder, I have been on call this week. Most of the time when I am on call the phone barely rings. Apparently my luck is running out. On tuesday I was at the hospital for almost 3 hours with a psychiatrically challenged child. Last night I got a call that was SO not an emergency. This lady didn’t fill out her daycare paperwork and get it turned in on time and was desperately begging me to have her case manager call her. Sorry, but we aren’t miracle workers and we don’t have a time machine. If you didn’t turn the paperwork in on time, it’s not my problem and I can’t help you.

Pass the Xanax

Work has been insane lately. I’ve worked well past what I am supposed to this week and have even brought my laptop home with me for the weekend. This is the first time I have ever brought my laptop home. That is an indicator of just how overwhelmed I am feeling at work.

I am finding that I have a limit. I cannot do it all and do it well in 40 hours a week. Or, I at least cannot do things like I have been doing them and get it all done in 40 hours a week. I know I haven’t been the best at time management the last few months, but up until now it didn’t matter. Back when I started, I had had hours to spare and felt guilty for leaving early. Now, I understand that I need to take advantage of that because I am paying for it now. I am coming in early¬†and staying late and I am still behind. Just when I think I am getting caught up, someone has a mental break and I am behind the 8 ball once again.

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So, would someone please pass me the xanax coffee so I can enjoy my weekend?

Keeping Work Out of the Weekend

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Ah, Thursday night, you are my friend. Once you arrive I know that the weekend is right around the corner. In my short career as a social worker I have found weekends are not as enjoyable when you emotionally (or literally) bring your work home with you.

This week in particular has been particularly stressful. Every night I lay awake in bed and think about all the things I need to do the next day. Since I don’t sleep well, I get up late, go to work late, get more behind and feel guilty for how behind I am. It’s a vicious cycle.

However, in my short tenure I have found a way to keep work at bay on the weekends. First off, I never ever bring my laptop home with me. Ever. Second, I rarely schedule any appointments on Friday. If I do, they are in the morning or it is with my “easy” clients. There are some clients I only see on Friday because I know when I get home I will probably want need a drink or two. I generally use Fridays to catch up on getting my notes in and that helps clear my mind before I check out for the weekend. Another thing I do is I try not to schedule anything too early on Monday mornings. I just need some time to get settled back into the work week and having a relaxed Monday morning helps that happen. Sometimes things are so crazy I could have a whole Monday free and it wouldn’t matter though.

I don’t know if this system will always work and maybe I’ll end up tweaking it down the line. Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out a system to debrief my mind everyday and not just Friday. But for now, I am very happen that the weekend stays the weekend.

Out of My Element

One of the kids on my caseload has some serious medical issues. As his caseworker I do absolutely everything I can to advocate not only for him, but his foster parents, to receive absolutely every service they need. In the last week it has become clear that he needs a feeding tube so I have been working to set up home nursing services.

In the process of making this referral for services it has been very clear to me that I am in a very foreign world to me. I really have no idea what information is relevant and irrelevant. I don’t even know how to ask for the service I actually am requesting. The chief nurse isn’t helping my plight and has been rather snippy with me.

This is just me getting on my soapbox and reminding people to be kind to those around you, especially when you work in a field that requires great expertise and is like a foreign language to most of the population. Just because you know a great deal about a subject does not give you the right to be snippy and condescending.

One Month in the Trenches

I almost made it a whole month without writing, you’d think I just started my job or something. On Friday February 24th I found I out I passed my exams and was officially licensed. The worker who had been carrying my cases promptly dumped all of her appointments on me even though I had no access to our online database and therefore no way to enter my notes for all of these appointments.

The very next day I got the flu, and bad. I didn’t go to work on Monday and probably shouldn’t have gone Tuesday but I had in-homes that had to be done before February was over. I dragged my sick butt to work and drove my sick self to Peoria that afternoon. And thus began the 12 hour days and late nights.

The good news is I survived my first month and this past week was downright boring. I saw all of my people, I talked to all my service providers and I entered all of my notes. And that was on Monday. This isn’t to say I’m the best worker ever or anything, just that the first month was much different than I thought it would be.

The Inevitable

I think it just comes with the territory. Papers. Stacks and stacks of papers. Every new caseworker gets a stack up to their knees of papers that need to be sorted and filed. Just so they don’t start out feeling like they have a handle on anything. If that isn’t a good time, i don’t know what is.

I came in Monday thinking it would be a slow, boring day. That was my first mistake. I didn’t even get to start filing that ginormous stack of papers. I finally got around to that stack today. However nothing has yet to make it into an actual file. Oh joy.

Nevertheless I am enjoying myself and feel like I am getting a better handle on my job. I met some kiddos for the first time yesterday and they warmed up to me so quick and we had lots of fun playing games. I can’t wait to get those kids home. I’m struck by how much responsibility is placed on me and I’m honored to get to work with these kids.