Updated: Apr 30
For many new mothers, returning to work after maternity leave can be dreadful, some feel guilty, some feel strange, and some even feel anxious about the whole idea of leaving their child with a stranger. I’m sure if we could all have it our way, we would take as much time off work as we felt necessary, but unfortunately, financial necessities are what often drag us out that door. Returning to work, as much as it is good for the family, the strong and sometimes overwhelming feeling of worry, guilt, or sadness over the temporary separation from our children can become an obstacle, making it difficult for us to cope with this conflict.
As daunting as it is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and in today’s post, I will be sharing different tips on ways to help you cope when it’s time to return to work after having a baby. This particular article will focus on the mother’s experience, as this is very much a big step for the parent as well, but I will also do a follow-up on how to help your baby cope when it’s time to start nursery or childcare.
Take baby steps
If you are worried that your child will be upset with you gone from him/her, why not ask your partner or a trusted friend/relative to stay with your baby for the first couple of days when you return to work. The idea behind this is to ease your mind into knowing that someone else can help take care of your baby in your absence and that (s)he can be fine with it.
Another way to help ease your mind would be to stagger the number of days you return to work, try going back a few days at first, or doing half days, and then gradually build that until you’re back to your normal working hours. Again this exercise is to help mothers gradually become accustomed to being temporarily separated from their little ones, whilst they are at work.
If you’re really worried, why not begin using childcare perhaps a week or so before you return to work. This will give you the opportunity to put your mind at ease when you find that an entire day/half-day has gone by and the nursery/childminder hasn’t had to call you about anything concerning. It’s also a good opportunity to figure out the best routine for both of you so your nursery runs are as stress free as possible.
Do your research on childcare options
Highly sought after nurseries can have long waiting lists, so if you are considering nursery as an option, it’s a really good idea to start looking as soon as possible. Go to places (both online and in person) that a lot of mums hang out at and ask for recommendations or reviews of childcare options you are considering. Also, ask friends/family to share their experiences and tips for the things to be mindful of. When you can, take the opportunity to meet and ask questions with the childcare provider. The more information you can gather, the more confident you will feel in your final decision, which can help put your mind at ease.
Don’t be afraid to talk
Denying your feelings is never a good idea. Motherhood is tough enough as it is; childbirth trauma, postnatal depression, a loss of one’s identity are all examples of all the types of challenges you may face in the early days. Now add on the everyday challenges of parenting, and you can see why suffering in silence can only make things worse for you. It’s always a good idea to work through your feelings with a trusted confidant. Are you worried that your child’s needs will not be met, are you worried that your child will favour someone else, or are you worried that you will be neglecting your child’s development? Talking to someone who has been where you are or understands where you are coming from helps, as it can remind you that there is nothing wrong with you personally, and you are not alone in this struggle.
Look after yourself
Remember to look after yourself as well. The last thing you want catalysing your sense of guilt and worry when you return to work is a tired, malnourished, or a burnt-out body. The new adjustment you’re dealing with is enough as it is, so if there are any unhealthy habits you can avoid, it would be best to put them off for a bit. You have to also be kind to yourself.
The good news is that after a couple of weeks, things do start to get easier. You’ll feel so much more confident that if life were to throw a curveball your way (i.e a job change, increase/decrease in hours), you’ll be able to easily adapt your plans.
Finances may be the primary reason why most mothers choose to go back to work, but there are other benefits to spending time away from children altogether. Your own personal needs as an adult can also be a good enough reason to want to return to work. Also, many mothers describe how they find themselves being better parents when they go back to work, as work can also be a source of happiness for them, which is something they can pour back into their families.
Thank you for reading yet another one of my blog posts, I really appreciate the support. Make sure to follow me on Pinterest and Instagram as well, so we can connect x