Here in this guest post, mum to two boys, Nicola offers some great advice about coping with the return to work after maternity leave.
Over to Nicola ….
Returning to work after maternity leave is such a daunting thought, especially when it’s your first baby. Even though it’s been two and a half years since I returned to work after my first baby, I can still remember the feelings of apprehension, guilt and a tiny bit of excitement at what was to come.
Overwhelmingly though, I was dreading re-immersing myself in the workplace. I had no idea how I was going to function as a normal working member of society after twelve months off work with my baby, mainly sat at home, feeding, burping and watching him sleep. I felt like the baby brain I’d been experiencing for the past year would never disappear, and I’d make myself look foolish or worse, incompetent when I returned to my role as branch manager of a busy retail outlet.
Despite all my fears, the return to work for me was smooth and I even fell back in love with my job, When it came time to take another twelve months off last year, I was actually a little bit apprehensive about it. Luckily, I’ve had another wonderful twelve months of work and this time, I don’t feel quite as much dread at the prospect of returning to work full time. But, what can YOU do to survive the return to work after maternity leave? Read on…
One of the most daunting things about returning to work is leaving your child with another person for 30 hours+ a week. What if they are inconsolable, what if they don’t eat or drink or what if they resent you for it for the rest of your life? That is why finding the perfect place to look after your child is vitally important, whether that’s a family member, a nursery, childminder or a mixture of all three. We have a childminder for our first born who we know and love and luckily has space for our second born when I return to work soon. Knowing that he will be safe and well looked after is a huge load off my mind and will stop me fretting.
Having to get up and out at 6 am every morning to do nursery runs and the commute to work can be a shock to the system after twelve months of being able to have lazy mornings in bed with the baby – it certainly was first time around for me. Because our firstborn now has his 30 funded hours at childcare, we all have to be up, dressed and out of the door by 7.15am, three days a week – which is the exact routine we will have when I get back to work. Having this routine in the run-up to your return to work means less of a shock for you and less of a shock to your baby who may get stressed at the prospect of all the rushing around in the mornings!
The one thing I’ve learnt since being a Mum is you have to be as organised as possible to make everything run smoothly. This means bags packed the night before, lunches prepared and ready to grab, all the tidying done in the evenings (with everybody chipping in!) so you’re not distracted by the mess in the mornings and all clothes laid out for the week on a Sunday night. Decide well in advance who will be doing childcare pickups, fill your car full of petrol (nothing worse than realising you need petrol when you’re already running late) and get into the habit of meal planning and using the slow cooker.
And if you are still dreading it a little bit…remember all the good things that come out of returning to work:
One of the most satisfying things about returning to work is having adult conversations that are not interrupted every five minutes by baby crying or a toddler needing to know why the moon is shaped like a crescent. You can chat about all sorts of things that babies and toddlers simply don’t care for…Strictly Come Dancing, idle local gossip or even just the weather.
When you first return to work after an extended period of time off, your brain can still feel a bit mushy, after all, you’ve just spent the last twelve months changing nappies, singing nursery rhymes and watching endless amounts of CBeebies. However, after a few days, the old noggin reignites and it’s amazing to finally get back to using it to challenge yourself in your job role. On my first day, I had to jump on the tills and start serving the growing queue and although my fingers trembled with fear, once I’d logged myself on, it was as if I had never been away.
When you’re on maternity leave, you are simply Mama, Mum, Mummy- a housewife and an entity who simply lives to deliver love, food and water to their offspring. Returning to work renews your identity as you. I suddenly remembered I am Nicola, not just a Mummy, but a young professional woman who is amazing at her job and who has so much to offer to her workplace and I thrived on this!
We all know SMP isn’t the greatest amount of money in the world, it certainly helps us to survive, but there’s very little cash for treats and holidays. Returning to work will obviously deprive you of that precious time with your babies, but with it comes the bonus of more money so that when you do get to your days off, you have plenty of funds to do whatever your heart desires with your little cherubs.
Returning to work after maternity leave may feel like it’s the end of the world, but honestly, it’s never quite as bad as your anxiety will have you believe it will be. Being a working Mum is a tough gig and it will take a bit of time to find your own routine, but with a bit of organisation, a positive mindset and the support of those around, you’ll get there and it’ll be well worth the tears shed over your fear of returning to work. Best of luck!
Nicola is a full time working Mummy to two boys, Dexter and Felix. She lives in West Lancashire with her husband and when she’s not blogging, enjoys travel, days out with the boys, binge watching Netflix and the occasional glass of wine. You can find her blog at https://mummytodex.com