No matter how much you enjoy your job, returning to work after maternity leave is hard (no point in sugar coating it!). Even if you feel ready, it’s hard leaving your little one who you’ve spent an amazing few months with at the crèche or child-minder.
The idea of leaving your little one behind as well as fitting an even busier morning and evening routine around your working day, and still finding time to spend with your partner and as a family might sound impossible but don’t worry it’s very achievable! Millions of mams do it daily and so can you! Just hang in there until you settle in and you’ll soon have a great home/work life balance.
Here are some tips that will make it all easier:
Remember – It’ll all be OK
While it’s difficult at the beginning, try your best to think positively. Once you are back in the swing of things and have a routine sorted, you will find yourself actually enjoying the time to read a magazine at lunch time or have an adult conversation. And your little one will adjust easier and faster than you, so let the guilt go!
It’s also ok to call and check in! If you are struggling and worried or having a bad day, the reassurance that your little one is doing great can make all the difference.
Don’t go back on a Monday
If you feel ready to jump in at the deep end by all means go for it. But if not, go back on Tuesday or even a Wednesday. A shorter work week will be a nice way to ease back into the working world.
There’s no best day, it all depends on other factors including the area of work that you’re in, the childcare etc. but it’s worth thinking about in advance to help ease the transition on those first few days.
Start as you mean to continue
Start your new workday routine from your first day back. There’ll be lots of people offering you help that first week to help make it easier (friends & family) but the offers will disappear after that first week and it’ll be even harder to set a routine then.
Have a plan B for créche-itis
There’s a possibility that your little one will fall ill during their first weeks in crèche. It’s just because they’ve probably had little or no exposure to germs and bugs in their short lives to date, and suddenly they’re licking toys that another child has just been sucking, they’re hugging and kissing their new besties, grabbing dummies out of other babies’ mouths and sharing slobbered-on beakers. And that’s all before runny noses!
This is when all those much appreciated offers of help come in. If your little one gets sick, there’s someone there to help (and you get to avoid asking your boss for time off to stay at home with a sick baby within your first few days back). But if you have to ask for some time, do, and don’t worry about it. You’re a parent now and your boss should understand.
Batch cooking and freezing will become your new best friend. By batch cooking some dinners and freezing them, you’ll be able to spend more time with your little one when you get home instead of rushing around like a headless chicken trying to organise dinner after a long tiring day of work. It’ll help your busy working mum diet be much more substantial than the old reliable tea & toast.
Other organisational hacks (to have more time to spend with your little one) include ordering your grocery shopping online and start purchasing as much non-iron clothing as possible. You domestic working mum goddess!
Don’t make yourself feel guilty now that you aren’t spending all day, every day with your little one. The stress of not getting enough quality time can be overwhelming for mums but just remember that for your little one, quality time together is as simple as bath time, stories, chat and cuddles before bed.
While not essential, new clothes for going back to work will make you feel better on that first day and maybe even boost your confidence.
While you’ll probably be in floods of tears leaving your little one, try your best to focus on the positives. It’s never as bad as it seems (or as bad as you’ve built it up to be in your head). When the day comes around you may even find yourself a bit giddy as you look forward to catching up with friends and colleagues while having that first cup of not-cold tea or coffee. And most importantly, showing pictures of your little one off to all those asking about them.