So that’s it, you waited 9 months for your little bundle of joy to arrive, you absorbed yourself in the lovely newborn bubble and then BAM! 6 months to a year has passed and the moment you have been dreading has arrived – returning to work.
The mixture of emotions I am currently feeling is very overwhelming, but I’m told that that is normal. You may feel anxious, you may feel excited, or you may feel a little bit of both. It also doesn’t get easier second time round, if anything its even harder!
Here in the UK we are really quite lucky with our maternity leave entitlement, with most people being able to take a minimum of 6 months. But after that 6 months is up, we have to make the difficult decision of whether to have further time off on less (or zero) money, or return to work. For us, it was the latter option, purely because we just couldn’t afford for me to take any longer off work. And before you ask (because everyone does), yes my husband is a manager for a very well known middle-class supermarket, and no, he doesn’t earn as much as you think he would!! Our outgoings are just too much and we do rely on both wages to live the lifestyle that we enjoy. Anyway…
Daisy has just turned 7 months old and I am in my 3rd week of being back at work. I am extremely lucky that my work are so flexible and I have been able to return part-time, and work my 13 hour shifts around my childcare. Doing so many hours in one shift means 2 shifts a week soon adds up to quite a lot of hours. I will never forget how lucky I am as I know it is not that easy for everyone.
For those of you approaching a return to work, here are some things you need to know to help you to prepare:
- It is not as scary as you think it is – I PROMISE!
- You will definitely be more emotional about the while thing than your child will.
- Be prepared, get everything ready the night before! Children are unpredictable and you never know what my happen in the morning that could delay you – “where’s my shoes”, “I’m hungry”, “No trousers, I want dress!” etc, and that’s just me…
- On that note, plan your routine, plan your route, plan your timings, PLAN PLAN PLAN!
- Find a childcare provider you are completely happy with. We made the mistake of just going with the biggest, poshest nursery in our town and all of us ended up unhappy. We moved our eldest daughter, Lyla, after about 6 weeks and it was the best decision we made.
- Whether you are using professional childcare, or family and friends have been drafted in to help, do not be afraid to leave pages of tips/baby’s routine. I’m pretty sure they will be thankful it, as at the end of the day, you know your baby better than anyone.
- If you have a second baby, and it is financially possible, don’t take your first child out of nursery whilst you are on maternity leave. Not only will you benefit from having one-on-one time with the baby, but the older sibling also gets some special attention on their days away from home.
- You will have a bit of a confidence dip. You haven’t ‘done’ this for so long, and your brain might take some waking up, allow for that. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, this is your chance. I know a common feeling is that of feeling like you have forgotten how to do your job, I know I definitely felt that! But, its like water off a ducks back once you get into it.
- Look after yourself. Make sure you eat, sleep, repeat…As tempting as social media is at 11pm at night, try and use that time to rest (I really need to listen to my own advice on this one as it is currently 11pm as I am writing this, and I am working tomorrow…)
- Where possible, have a back-up plan, a plan B. Not only are you already feeling mum guilt, you then don’t want to feel guilty having to let work down if the inevitable happens and illness occurs. We take it in turns to have to take time off for illness, but for the first couple of times for Daisy, my husband will probably have to take the hit.
- And on that note – DON’T FEEL GUILTY. Okay, so I know that that is a ridiculous thing to say as any mum (or dad) will feel it, but just remind yourself that you are working to give your family a good life, enjoyment, and clothes on their backs. You are doing an amazing job.
And last of all – ENJOY IT! Enjoy being back with your colleagues, enjoy being in a different environment, it may not be what you envisaged as ‘you’ time, but any time away from being a parent is classed as that these days!
If you work from home then these points may differ slightly, what I will say is make sure you give yourself time off like you would if you were leaving the house to go to work. And take advantage of any childcare on offer! You are doing an amazing job.
If you are a stay at home mum? You are an actual superhero. You are doing an amazing job.
Spot the theme? Parenting may not be ‘work’, but it is bloody hard, and however you go about your day? You are amazing.
All the love