8 Tips For Returning To Work After Having A Baby
For many mothers, going back to work after having babies can be daunting.
Adjusting to the ‘busyness’ of life at home with a new family can seem hard enough without the added complication of returning to work thrown in, but believing that it can be done and developing some routines will go a long way in helping you manage the change.
Included in our top tips is some honest advice from some of our working mums:
- Be kind to yourself
Returning to work can seem overwhelming and it’s not easy to find a balance between work and family. But it’s really important to be patient, kind and forgiving to yourself in order to set a strong platform for managing all the demands on your time and energy. It’s not possible to ‘do it all’, so try not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself and rather invest in the things that are actually meaningful.
Make time for things you enjoy like exercise and socialising even if it is just a brief 10-minute walk around the suburb or a quick coffee catch-up with a friend because ‘you’ time is really important. Nurture and treat yourself every now and then because not only do you need it – you deserve it.
Kelly says: ‘Being a working mum is a real challenge and a juggle and devoting myself to my family, work and friends is an ongoing marathon.
‘For me being a mum can be a constant guilt trip. However, I have realised and accepted that I can’t be everything to my children and nor do I want to be. While I am one of the most important people in their lives, in order to live up to that level of responsibility, I realise I need to feel balanced and look after myself. This includes finding ‘me‘ time and not getting stressed about the small stuff. My base line on some days can be as simple as having the clothes washed and in a pile, the kids having something in their bellies and them going to bed with a smile on their faces. That’s a winning day.’
- Know exactly what ‘going back to work’ involves
Meet with your boss and find out what their expectations are. What will your hours be? Will it be easy to change them if needed? How flexible are your employers if you need to take time off unexpectedly? Can you work from home if there are deadlines to be met? Be clear on your expectations too, so that there are no surprises on either side. Remember you are not alone, there are many working mums who understand just how you are feeling.
Sally says: ‘It is a strange feeling being with your baby 24/7 for a whole year and then leaving them for 10 hours a day. Honestly, it’s a pretty gut-wrenching feeling. Motherhood is filled with so many emotions – and guilt plays a major part. Am I making the right decision for my family? Am I neglecting my baby by going to work?
‘Then you also feel overwhelmed with the idea of having to work and take care of your baby/family. You will feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.
‘But, when you start work, you realise that your baby is still happy and you can still get work and home life jobs completed. It’s actually doable. You then start to really appreciate family time more.’
- Develop your support team
There’s much truth in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, so don’t be shy to call for help from trusted friends and family. Support from other mothers’ groups, online chat forums and community networks can also be of tremendous help and can often lead to a wider social circle. It’s also a good idea to discuss your domestic arrangements ahead of your return to work and establish who will be responsible for the different tasks at home, so that the transition is as smooth as possible.
Paul says: ‘One of the simple ways I help my wife is by taking our baby on my walk every morning, which allows my wife that one extra hour in bed. Of course I help in many more ways, but this simple act is something she really appreciates.’
- Let go of the guilt
Feeling guilty about being away from your family is normal, but it’s counterproductive. Keep reminding yourself that it’s OK to be back at work and try not to dwell on any negative or judgmental comments.
Heather says: ‘As hard as it is to return to work and leave my little one behind, I feel that since being back at work, I am a better mum, wife and person In general. I feel like I have my identity back as a person as well as a mum. The ‘mum guilt’ you feel sometimes makes it hard to remember to look after yourself and do what’s right for you so you can be a better mum, but it is important to do so and working is what makes me better.”
- Establish routines
Routines will help you and your family cope with the transition. Routines help them to know what to expect and help them to settle to the ‘new normal’.
Write down a meal plan for the week and then do your shopping based on that so you know what you’re cooking each night and you know you have everything. Invest in a slow cooker!
Prepare the night before for yourself for work, for bubs, for lunches and for dinner
Take at least half an hour every night to sit down and relax, watch TV or read a book before getting into bed and starting the day again
- Do some practice runs
A couple of weeks before you return to work, it’s useful to do a couple of dry-runs of your routine. This will help you see whether your planned routine comes together and whether you need to make any adjustments or improvements.
- Prepare your child for the transition
Some children may experience separation anxiety which can be upsetting for you and your child. Reading books about childcare and talking to your child about the new routine will help pave the way for the transition plus it’s helpful to familiarise your child (and yourself) with his or her new environment before you actually go back to work. Going through an orientation with your childcare centre will also help the transition.
- Choose your childcare carefully
Kelly says: ‘I am a massive advocate that it takes a village to raise a child. It absolutely vital to me that I make the best decision I can about who my children surround themselves with and that includes the service I choose every day to trust with looking after my children. The Educators play such a critical part of my family’s life.’
Your choice of childcare is a huge factor in making a successful transition back to work. If you are confident about the quality of care that the centre offers and have the peace-of-mind that your child will be looked after with love, care, attention and concern, it’ll be easier for you to be away.
Do your research carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, your family is precious cargo and you want to know with absolute certainty that you’ve made the right decision – so take your time, visit some centres, get referrals and be confident in your decision.
Early Learning & Kinder centres are among the most highly sought-after in Australia, offering high-quality, nurturing and inclusive childcare and early education in modern, well-equipped environments staffed by skilled and caring educators. The centres are designed to create a homely feel which helps families make the transition to childcare, so if you’re planning on going back to work, you may want to find out more about enrolments at Early Learning & Kinder and find a centre closest to you by browsing through our website.