5 Tips on Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

5 Tips on Returning to Work after Maternity Leave Over Heaven's Hill Parenting Blog

B and I are both working parents. I love my job. B is “so, so” on his but he’s damn good at what he does. But it sucks. Whether, you work part time, full time, work from home with 1 kid, 2 kids or 6, it’s hard. The balance is torturous to try and get right. Parenting is difficult no matter what way you do it, whether you work or stay at home. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect balance, so we try to make the best of it. Returning to work after maternity leave was difficult. Here are my tips on returning to work to help make the transition smoother.

Our Story: The Working Parent

When you choose to work, time seems to disappear, chores seem to build up, guilt creeps in, and your heart aches for missing your baby. You wonder can you actually manage working and being a parent?

Yes, you can.

After A was born there was no doubt in our minds whether I would go back to work or not. I just would, that was it. I’m an information professional in the oldest working Maternity Hospital in Europe and I love it. I’ve grown and learnt so much in my almost ten years working there. My job role expanded and I now also credit myself as a Graphic Designer and Editor. I’ve been blessed to have been given these opportunities. And to love my job is a gift.

A was 5 months old when Cardinal I went back to my desk. She was tiny. So, so, so tiny.

Baby Moments

She had just started her acrobatic attempts at rolling over. Her favorite word was “daddadadadada” and she had a giggle that was ridiculously infectious. I was terrified of missing out on all of those precious moments and those wondrous “firsts”. What parent wouldn’t be?

This was something I simply had to contend with as a working parent. B was already doing it having had only two weeks off when A was first born.

The day began to grow closer and closer to when I would go back. I started to count down the weeks which turned into days and suddenly it was the night before. I was numb. How did 26 weeks disappear so quickly? She was only born the other day!

We had big decisions to make before I made that dreaded first trip back into work. Who would care for A? How would we manage the logistics of it all? What could we afford? Who would do pick ups and drop offs?

Decision made

A was sent to a childminder – for a whopping nine hour day. Add in commute time and that takes A away from quality time with Momma and Papa Bear for ten hours a day, five days a week.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Over heavens hill tips for returning to work after maternity leave

Needs must. The silver lining Momma for us, was that A was with her Great Aunt for that time and not in a creche.This was the best solution that suited us and our family and admittedly we jumped at the chance of knowing that A would be cared for by a family member who we loved and respected.

The Wonders of Great Aunts

We wholesale nba jerseys took liberties and knew that we could call, text and check up on A at any time and B was only ten minutes down the road if there was an emergency. We would get photos and updates and know every minute detail of her day. I’m not sure how we haven’t driven Great Aunt around the bend with our constant questions but she has taken it all in her stride.

Great Aunt obliged us with our million and one requests and our “please do this and do that” – you know, the small, annoying and somewhat pedantic things first time parents seem to obsess about. A is a serious creature of habit so we were beyond happy to know that her tiny little five month old schedule would carry on without Momma and Papa Bear.

My level of trust in Great Aunt was huge and that made the transition to returning to work a whole lot easier. My first day back disappeared in a blur and I was home with A and B in no time. Day two was when reality hit. I was in this for the long haul. Great Aunt was in this for the long haul. Will A know that I’m her Mom? Yep, post pregnancy hormones struck hard. I thought my role as mother would get diminished as a working parent and A would call Great Aunt “Mom” – something Great Aunt has frequently reassured me about “they always know who their Mammy is.” And she’s right. But you still worry and the first time A called me Aunty my heart sank. Nowadays, I laugh it off but that took a while.

The Daily Grind

B does the pick ups and drops offs and I know there have been tears – nine times out of ten they were his but only in the beginning. Saying goodbye to such a small bundle, which you love with your entire being, is difficult – even if it is for only nine hours. When I say goodbye, A is happily in the car with her Daddy and the psychological difference of that is fairly significant for me. I admire him because I really don’t think I’d have managed the drop offs with as much grace and dignity as he did. There’s an odd pain that sits in the very pit of your chest in those first few months, when the hands and toes are still so small. There’s a worry that never seems to fully leave.

Between facing rush hour traffic, dropping off a now toddler, which isn’t always as easy as just walking up to the door – there may be early morning tantrums, falls, and other glitches I’m sure B brushes off because he takes it in his stride – B then has to plough head first into a busy day. I simply catch the bus and have a 40 minute commute where I read, write or listen to music. Don’t I have the life! But I have sat on that bus and cried. Tears slowly washed down my face. Those first few weeks and months were filled with dread and anxiety but it got easier.

Getting into the Swing of Things

It takes time.

Life settles down to a point where you half know what you’re doing with a baby and suddenly you’re thrown a curve ball and you’re faced with a whole new set of rules and regimes.

Two years on and I now enjoy going to work and I know that A is happy and safe with Great Aunt. Yes, she can be grumpy in the morning, just like me (no one likes being pulled out of their bed at 6:30am… I don’t literally pull her out of bed!) and I’m sure she has moments when she’s temperamental and just wants to be at home but she’s definitely happy with Great Aunt and she rules her home as well as ours! A is fortunate to be able to build relationships with our extended family. A knows more about the cousins, aunts and Great Nanna than I do! She has a much better social life than us and she’s doted on.

Over heavens hill parenting blog tips for returning to work after maternity leave
On that first day Art back, you don’t really feel like yourself and you definitely feel like something is missing. But it gets easier. (pixabay.com)

The Transition – 5 Tips to Make it Easier

There’s no easy way to make the transition of returning to work simpler. The daily routine was my biggest affliction at the time but this is how I made those first weeks and months that little bit easier. Over time, you get better at the daily grind. Two years later, I still tweak my regime because every day is never going to be the same and life will surely throw those amazing curve balls right in your face on a Monday morning.

1 – Find a Care Provider You Trust

Someone you trust with your life because your little bundle literally is your life. There’s nothing worse than worrying about every possibility that may or may not happen to your child.  Choosing a relative, friend or neighbour, like all childcare, comes with pros and cons. And you have to consider everything.

Tips on Returning to Work After Maternity Leave Over Heaven's Hill Parenting Blog
It was so hard saying goodbye to this face in the morning, our beautiful A.

Choosing a creche can be difficult. Between location, cost, hours, resources and simply finding people you get a good vibe off of. There is so much to consider.

In all cases, watch your Heaven’s child for tell tale signs that they’re not happy and if necessary talk to your care provider and re-evaluate. Everything in life is trial and error. If the first option doesn’t work out, source another. It’s time consuming, it’s stressful, but it is necessary.

OK, you’re still going to worry no matter who cares for your child, but the more confident you are in their ability, the easier it is to walk into that office and give your job the full attention it deserves.

2 – Be Organised

I’ve always been an “everything has its place” type of person so this one came naturally to me but I can’t stress enough how important it is to be organised. I get a slight sense of satisfaction when I know Recovery I have everything ready for the following day. It’s in wholesale mlb jerseys the morning when you’re racing against the clock to get everybody into the car that you see the benefits.

Being organised saves time and creates less stress.

That’s not to say the mornings may not be stressful, but being organised will help.

  • Make a list – in the early days you may not know what baby needs for the day, so make a list until it becomes natural for you to include everything. And don’t beat yourself up if you forget something.
  • Every weekday morning, I feel like we’re off on holiday, we have that many bags with us to be thrown into the car. But those bags are all packed and ready to go the night before. Milk, breakfast, lunch, snacks, spare clothes, shoes and the kitchen sink – everything packed and ready so there’s no panic or rush to find something in the morning when time is limited.
    Over Heaven's Hill Parenting Blog tips for returning to work after maternity leave

    A’s bag is practically a weekend bag. I have her prepared for near enough every eventuality. I’ve gotten over the innocuous feeling of failure when through exhaustion I’ve forgotten to add something into her bag – funnily enough she wholesale nfl jerseys still survives! Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself.

  • I prep a weeks worth of outfits for A at the weekend and have them ready with underwear, socks and shoes the night before.
  • We write up a menu of dinners for the week on a Sunday night so we know exactly what we’re making for dinner when we come in the door in the evening.
  • I also make extras and freeze these dinners for during the week (Shepards pie is the best!)
  • B and I make lunches for ourselves every evening when A goes to bed (OK some nights we forget or get lazy – those days we’re hungry!)
  • I’ll admit, I lie in bed at 6:15am mentally going through my wardrobe deciding what to wear. Knowing the night before will make it a lot easier when I get my head into this one!
  • I always mention to A the night before that we’re going to Great Aunts in the morning and Mammy and Daddy are going to work. I don’t know if this actually helps but on mornings I don’t say this to her there tends to be an altercation and some placating with promises of Squishy Pops or cookies! Because she doesn’t have the full concept of days and weeks yet, it seems to go the distance helping her understand where we are in the week and more willing to get up and ready in the morning for our usual routine.

3 – Be Positive

I suffered mild depression after A was born and was admittedly worried about the effect returning to work would have on my state of mind. To work, however, was my decision and I trusted myself to remember that. I wanted to work. I had decided to balance that working life with parenthood so I pulled my socks up and was determined to stay positive.

Working mother guilt is a crap affliction and I’ve suffered it but picked myself out of it because I know I’m doing what’s right at this moment for our family.

Remain positive. What you’re doing is good. Yes, there may be days when you see the glass half empty instead of full. But remember, at work you can drink a hot cup of coffee and have a full adult conversation!

4 – Utilise Your Time

Over Heaven's Hill Parenting Blog tips on returning to work after maternity leave
Delegate. B is cheap mlb jerseys fantastic with housework and daily routines but I tend to take charge. Sometimes I need to let go and know I cant do everything on my list so I share the load with him.
  • Delegate. You can’t do everything yourself. Remember that. Ask for help.
  • Make extras. Double on portions and freeze meals for during the week.
  • Use your lunch breaks to run errands.
  • Plan the night before.
  • Do a quick clear up in the kitchen and living spaces every night – everything in its place – order calms the mind.
  • Learn to say no – I’m slowly getting good at this one. You’ve only so much time in your day and your family come first. Don’t be afraid to reject an invitation. And don’t jump at the chance to offer your help with something.

Get someone else to do it:

  • Get a cleaner
  • Shop online
  • Send your ironing out
  • Get a handyman to do the little odd jobs that you don’t have time for

5 – Find Quality Time

No matter how much or little time you have with your family before or after work, build up quality time with them. That doesn’t necessarily mean playing with them on the floor or rummaging through tins of Play Doh. Remember, they are probably as tired as you having spent a day at childcare playing games and Gelesen learning.

B reads books with A every night for about 20 minutes before bedtime. He’s been doing this since she was about three months old. It’s a bedtime ritual they both love. wholesale jerseys Not only has it meant they have bonded tightly but A’s language skills gleaned from an early age.

Quality time is doing the things you all love doing together. Find those moments and love and appreciate them. Especially, put away the phone! I am a self confessed phone addict. I mean come on, the world literally at my fingertips? In fact I actually class “Internetting” as one of my hobbies. But not around A. The phone is well and truly put away so there are no distractions and I focus on her and family time.

Find Quality Time with your partner also. As exhausted as you may be in the evenings, don’t neglect your relationship. Late dinners in the kitchen after baby goes to sleep (of course with the baby monitor beside you because we can never really let go. Can we?) or a bowl of popcorn, blanket and that movie you had both promised to see in the cinema before bump arrived. These things make a difference and keep you connected.

B and I both still hate being away from A, but needs must. I was lucky enough to be able to organise a four day week recently with my boss and that one day has made an incredible difference to all of us, Great Aunt included. A will be in preschool soon which I know will bring forth its own set of challenges and logistics but I’ve noticed the last few years, as with every other working parent out there, we manage it. We find a way and we do it.

How do you do it?

Share your tips in the comments on how to make those first few weeks of returning to work that little bit easier.

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38 Comments

  1. This is such a great post! I have to go through this in September. I will have had 10 months off with my little boy and it still doesn’t feel long enough. I love your tips, organisation etc I’ll definitely use these. Like you- I’ll not be doing pick up and drop off. I don’t think I could do it! X

    1. Oh it’ll be tough after having so much wonderful time with your little boy but it genuinely gets easier. Make life as easy as possible on yourself so you can give your little one the best quality time

  2. Great post! I feel soo lucky that we’re in a position for me to stay at home. Granted we’re not financially perfect but we work things enough to make sure our family are comfortable. Loads of great tips here, I know a few mums and dads currently on leave, I’ll be sure to direct them to this post 😃

  3. Oh, this is such a tough time for a parent. The little one fairs much better, in most cases. But we have to torture and punish ourselves, don’t we? It’s not wrong to want or need to go back to work, loving your job (or at least liking it) and finding a great care-giver help so much. I ended up with good and bad care-givers, they both ended up making me feel guilty. When they were not giving my kids as much attention as they should the guilt set in and finding a new sitter become paramount. When they were good, it made me feel guilty too, they were able to give my son an at home life that I couldn’t. In the end, all worked out, but I certainly beat myself up about it the entire time!

    1. Absolutely. We’re lucky to have my husbands aunt care for A but I still feel guilty. There are times when I feel I’m missing out on so much of her life and that I’m not a mom. Horrible feeling but I enjoy working. The balance is difficult.

  4. This is a super post, really inspiring and helpful for mamas that feel that pain and guilt. I’ve not been in that situation but I can image how tough it is to juggle! #dreamteam

  5. Oh hun that must have been so difficult going back to work when she was so tiny! I am going back in October and already dreading it. You are right though, finding trustworthy childcare is everything and it does get easier. #dreamteam

  6. As someone who is considering going back to work at some point in the near future, this post has been very enlightening and has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    #bigpinklink

  7. WOW. It’s like I linked up at exactly the right moment so that I could read this post, it’s so, so, so relevant to me right now. I returned to work 3 weeks ago and I am really struggling. My position has changed quite dramatically and I am not getting ANY sleep, it’s so hard. I didn’t expect it to be this hard, and I want to quit, which is completely NOT ME. I am always on the go, and always determined to do everything and do my best. But I think I went back to early (6 months), I think I should have gone back once my son was sleeping through the night. This post is really helpful, I think staying positive and quality time are the most important points on this list, thank you for sharing! #bigpinklink

    1. Oh I’m so glad I posted this today, wasn’t too sure what to link up. It really is a very hard time going back to work. Its plain horrible and I know exactly what you’re going through. all I can see is it does get better. I know you probably keep hearing that and it really doesn’t feel like it will at the moment. I don’t think there’s any perfect time to go back to work to be honest. But be strong mama! You’re doing great! Can you ask anyone for help when you’re off work so you can catch up on some much needed rest. Oh and power nap on your lunch break! I did that, genuinely!

  8. Finding a caregiver you can 100% trust s absolutely important! It is hard to find a balance and the balance changes as the children grow older too. I don’t think I would have been able to work if not for my family’s support as well. Good tips! #bigpinklink

  9. I completely agree that finding childcare with people you completely trust is so important. For us it was make or break, if we hadn’t have found somewhere so brilliant then I doubt I would be where I am today. Lots of interesting tips. Thank you for sharing with the #DreamTeam x

  10. It’s hard going to back to work, but think of the hot drinks and your lunch break; you will be able to eat lunch in peace!

    I’m currently job hunting after being made redundant so it’s like mat leave all over again! will have to go through it all again soon x

    1. You’re right, there really aren’t enough hours in the day. And there never will be. It’s a constant juggling act and usually something falls down somewhere along the way. It’s a matter of picking ourselves up again and finding a new or better routine.

  11. I had the support of my in-laws. They not only took care of me but the whole family including my baby. Even with all their support, it was a tough time getting back to blogging. When I restarted my work, I missed my baby but knew she was having a great time with her grandparents. I cant thank them enough.

    1. Finding the balance can be very difficult, especially in those early days. Support is so important. Looking back on it, I needed more help than I asked for. Next time I wont be so shy and stubborn to ask for help. Thanks for reading and commenting

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