The day you return to work after Maternity Leave can fill you with dread, regardless of how much you love your job. Towards the end of your Maternity Leave, you may find yourself nervously counting down to that day as you try to cherish the uninterrupted time you have left with your baby. Being well prepared is one of the best ways to ease your anxiety and switch your mentality more towards an “I’ve got this” state of mind.
Consider your motivators
When thinking about returning to work, your maternal brain may protest and think “I can’t possibly leave my baby”. This is when you need to think about the reasons you’re returning to work, even make a list so you can refer to it later. Your reasons for returning to work may be purely financial or more personal. Whatever your reasons are, think about them in a positive manner. For example: “We need my income to pay the mortgage and bills, so by going to work I’m giving my family their home.” or “I have worked very hard on my career and I have many other goals to accomplish, I want to make my children proud as they see me succeed.”
Consider your hours
Before your baby, you may have been the person who always stayed late or took on extra work. Be realistic about what you are comfortable committing to now. Communicate with your employer and voice any concerns you may have about returning to work. Often, you and your employer may be able to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial, such as flexible working hours or working from home occasionally.
Get comfortable with your chosen childcare
Whether your baby will be minded in a creche, by a minder or by a family member, make sure you have everything ironed out long before you return to work. If enrolling in a creche make sure your child is familiar with the staff and the facility before their first full day to avoid any stressful meltdowns on the big first day.
Having your baby looked after by family is a reassuring choice for many working parents. However, make sure to discuss boundaries before you start. Older generations can have different beliefs about childcare which may clash with your own parenting style. Have plenty of open discussions about how you like to do things. Your baby, your rules. If your family will not respect your wishes then you may want to consider alternative childcare options.
Ease yourself in
Arrange for your first day back to be any day except a Monday, give yourself a short week to start off. This will ease you into the work environment slowly, while also easing your baby into the new routine.
Buy new work clothes
Utilise “fake it ‘til you make it” by buying yourself some new work clothes that make you feel professional and put together. This will do wonders for your confidence and help to shift your mind away from Maternity Leave mode (which probably consisted of loungewear all day and a messy bun).
Focus on what you’ll enjoy in the workday
Working mothers report a whole host of benefits they get from being in the workforce. These benefits can be small day-to-day things like drinking a hot cup of coffee or going to the toilet alone, as well as bigger things like increased self-confidence that comes from professional successes and mental health boosts from interacting with different people all day.
Make special plans with your baby
Nothing gets you through the work week like having fun weekend plans to look forward to. Plan some fun quality time, whether you stay home or go out somewhere. You’ll both appreciate the time even more after having time away during the week.
Remember you are your baby’s number one
It can be difficult to leave your baby with others and there may be times when you feel like you’re out of the loop. Always remember that your baby loves you more than anyone in the world and nobody could ever take your place in their heart. They’ll always save their warmest hugs and biggest smiles just for you!