Maternity Leave: Do You Suffer From Guilt After Returning To Work??

by Sheri

This post may contain referral links, which means I may receive a small credit, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. All opinions remain my own.

What Is It Really Like To Go Back To Work After Maternity Leave?

As you may know, I am a first-time mom who has been on maternity leave for the past year.

Lucky for me, I live in an amazing country which allows for moms or dads to go on parental leave for up to two years.

Different variables and conditions apply when making your choice. We decided on the one-year maternity leave option.

Therefore I am heading back to work in about three and a half weeks. YIKES! This whole working mom thing, and being a mom in general is still so new.  It doesn’t help much that I suffer from anxiety and OCD.

I am become extremely anxious when I think about returning to work and the guilt I will feel when leaving my little one. Lots of mixed emotions.


Maternity leave is amazing, but for many new moms, it quickly comes to an end. When you're preparing to go back to work after having a baby, there are some really helpful things you can do to make the transition easier. Going back to work after baby may not be easy, but you can absolutely make it work! With the help of these seven simple tips. #motherhood #newmom #maternityleave #backtowork #selfcare #pregnancy #baby #child #mom


It feels like finally, I am getting the hang of mommyhood, yet about to leave it all behind to head back to work. Not worried about having to get up early – had enough practice over the year. Neither am I worried about whether he will be safe and happy. We have that covered.

Dressing up in nice clothes and heels? – hardly imaginable but not wearing jogging pants or smelling like baby milk would be a nice change.

The feeling of leaving my little precious boy whom I have been with every single moment of every day since he entered this world is heart-wrenching. I am hoping that these feelings will subside as I ease back into work mode.

I wonder how other mothers do when returning to work after only a month or two.  A friend of mine who lives in North Carolina went back to work after 8 weeks. Unimaginable for me.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Returning to work after maternity leave and dealing with the guilt, working mom, mom and baby, toddler moms, work after maternity leave

Is it easier when you have been at home for a short amount of time? Or is it a better option to ease into work after maternity leave when you know your child is walking, talking, and has a good feeding routine going?

Will the guilt fade after a while, or do you end up managing it all?

The guilt mostly sets in when I think of all I will be missing out on. Do you feel the same?

These questions have been buzzing through my head all day long for the past week.

Hopefully, his independent and adaptable nature will help smooth the transition.


On The Other Hand, I Feel A Sense Of Excitement Returning To Work

Yes, this may sound contradictory to everything I have just said.

Again – lots of mixed emotions. My thoughts and feelings are here, there, everywhere! However, my return to work after maternity leave brings me to a new job at the same place of work.  So I will be learning and doing different things, but luckily I won’t have to go through the process of getting to know new colleagues, learning names, and figuring out where things are.

Excitement because I am returning to work, in a new role that will offer plenty of opportunities to learn about an area of the institution I had not previously worked in.

Challenges are fantastic as they keep me motivated to do better and be better. Somewhere inside me, I crave the sense of self-worth I get from working. The thrill of solving work-related problems, getting the job done.


Still Able To Be Me

Back to work after maternity leave, a mom and son, working mom, mom life, balancing work and home life

It is important for me to be classified as not “just a mom” but as a well-rounded person.

I hope not to be judged for wanting to go to back to work when I don’t have to. Loving my job doesn’t make me less of a mom right? Don’t get me wrong – I would give up anything and everything for my son – so are these feelings right or wrong?

One thing I am happy about is that I return to work mid-week my first week back. It will be a one-half day and two full days of work as opposed to a full week. Less of a shock for me.

The separation will be harder for me than for him. I can only hope I am not an absolute wreck.

I will need to do a follow-up on this post to let you know how it all worked out as I am sure it will.

Having children can be a big change for your personality and temperament. This life change can make you feel like a different person., which of course you now are. As a mom, you can remain true to yourself. 

Parts of you will change over the years, but your core identity doesn’t need to have a complete overhaul.

Here is a quote I love:

I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.Tina Fey

*Updated – After being back at work for 18 months, I can now share with you the tips to help you ease balance work and hope life, as well as coping skills to help you in the transition from being away from your little one when you return to work.


7 Simple Tips To Help You Get Back To Work After Maternity Leave


1. Find Trustworthy Childcare

This is on top of my life because we found great daycare. Without a great daycare, I would not have been able to focus at work.  You do not need to wait until your baby is born to start doing this.  If you have a family member to look after your baby, you are lucky.  Most of us don’t have the luxury. This is the most essential thing you can do for both you and your little one when returning to work after maternity leave.


2. Make Breastfeeding Plans

Breastfeeding didn’t work for me, so this was not an issue. However, if you are considering breastfeeding after returning to work from maternity leave, speak to your supervisor or HR. Try to find a space at work where you can breastfeed in private and without interruption. Invest in a good breast pump and nursing pads.

3. Don’t Start On A Monday

I returned to work on a Wednesday. It was great as it was not too overwhelming for me and my little one. The first few days are the hardest, so try to ease into it slowly. If you can afford it, consider returning for part-time hours rather than full-time. Initially, I had planned to return for 40-hrs a week after a year of working. In fact, I had changed my working hours to full-time right before Christmas last year. In January, when my little one began Kindergarten, I realized we would have too little time together in the evening if I was to return to full-time. I love working 30 hours a week. It suits our schedule perfectly, and I love my job. I recommend it, if it suits your budget. 


4. Leave Work At Work

My work habits have changed a little since having my little one. I used to take work home respond to emails, and do work at night so I could cross items off my to-do list. Now, working part-time and in a different department, I focus on work at work, and all my attention is on my little one at home.  Life is good. 


5. Weekly Meal Planning

Ok, so I did this for about a week then let it go. I just prefer to make food on the way I am going to eat it. Food is a huge issue for working moms. Do you want to spend time in the evening cooking, or do you want to play with your child?

My hubby loves to cook and I am a baker.  This is why we didn’t stick to a cooking plan. If  neither of your loves to cook, or are too tired to do so in the evening, cook in bulk on the weekend and freeze it. Or you cook one night, the next night your partner does it. Whichever way saves you time is the right way to go.


6. Sleep IS Your Friend

You must have heard it a million times already. Moms need their sleep too. If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it is essential to look into tips to help you change that.  A lot of mothers really underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep. Sleep is just as important to good health as diet and exercise.

If you’re constantly tired, your whole family will feel it.


7. Let Go Of Mom Guilt

Let go of it. Hundreds of thousands of working moms manage to balance work and home life, so don’t worry too much.

I have lists of things to do both at home and at work, and complete them according to what has priority. Your life may revolve around your baby and that’s OK. Make sure you get some little “me” time everyday. Parenting is hard, whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom.

There is no need to compare yourself to others, or judge anyone’s parenting choices.


What Are Your Secrets For A Successful Return To Work After Maternity Leave?

Remember, our children’s independence is a reminder of how much we had to give and all that we have accomplished.

What did you do to ease back into work after maternity leave? Did you find it very difficult or easier than what you originally thought? Are you on maternity leave now and trying to make the decision on returning to work or being a stay-at-home mom? If any of you stay-at-home dads are reading this – please chime in!

Share with me your experiences, advice, tips and suggestions in the comments section below.

I would love to hear your ideas, someone might need them.


Purposeful Habits xoxo Sheri


Maternity leave is amazing, but for many new moms, it quickly comes to an end. When you're preparing to go back to work after having a baby, there are some really helpful things you can do to make the transition easier. Going back to work after baby may not be easy, but you can absolutely make it work! With the help of these seven simple tips. #motherhood #newmom #maternityleave #backtowork #selfcare #pregnancy #baby #child #mom


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Susan September 17, 2017 - 17:41

I went back to work after 9 weeks, you’re right it is tough and scary but honestly after the first couple of hours you might even find that you’re not thinking about home life (even if its just for a minute or two) It takes some adjustments but separation can be good and create a stronger bond. My husband is a SAHD and she gets so excited and happy when I get home (I think I’m her favorite :P)
Best of luck!

Kyla Matton Osborne September 5, 2017 - 01:25

I know when I was working eons ago, it was hard to go back even after taking a few weeks of vacation. It must be really tough to return after taking a longer leave to be with your little one. I know some moms go back part time near the end of their leave. They return sooner, but it makes the transition a little easier for them and their families.

thismomblogs August 21, 2017 - 17:37

I absolutely cannot imagine what it would be like to have one year off after having a baby! That is amazing! I went back to work after 7 weeks and it was very difficult, but I too was excited to get back to the grind. I was excited to have some adult time and see my friends, but also didn’t want to leave my son or miss anything that might happen. I can’t bare the thought of someone else witnessing a first! Luckily, so far, I have only went back to work full time, so I only work 3 or 4 days a week. That has been a huge relief for me, as going back to work full time would be difficult not only for me to handle but for us to afford, as we would then have to put our son in some kind of daycare. I sincerely hope that your transition to work was a positive one!

natsavallejo August 21, 2017 - 06:40

Thanks for sharing this! I am positive that you will be able to do this because you are supermom! Keep going. I’m a stay at home mom and go crazy half the time I’m home with my son. 😉

Toni August 21, 2017 - 04:04

I never went back to work after having my first child seven years ago, i always intended to but that’s not the life fate had in store for me!

Hats off to you working mama’s! It must be tough

Kinshoo August 20, 2017 - 21:43

Oh It’s really difficult to leave that small human who used to be with you 24*7.. but Yes there is another side.. FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE!!
So plz maje right choices about the baby’s day care and enjoy your time at home with the lil one.

jennw076 August 20, 2017 - 20:24

I can so relate to this! I dealt with an unbelievable amount of guilt after I went back to work. I only lasted 4 months back to work before I quit to stay home full time. It’s always a struggle no matter what choice we make as mothers. The mom guilt is so real! Thanks for writing on such an important topic we all face!

5 Amazing Ways Becoming a Parent Will Change You November 6, 2016 - 06:40

[…] guilt from returning to work after maternity leave? Let it […]

Teresa Kunberger October 9, 2016 - 14:47

I have my son in 2 1/2 weeks and thank god my mother let me stay with here for awhile. I dont have a job right now so no maternity leave for me.

Elizabeth Gilbert September 22, 2016 - 14:37

I am lucky and have always worked from home, but sometimes I feel guilty when my daughter wants my attention and I’m working. Sometimes I wish I could’ve worked out of the house so we aren’t used to always being around each other. It makes separation anxiety 50 times harder.

Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes September 22, 2016 - 07:17

I’m lucky that I’m self employed and get to work from home, which helps. Hope things get better for you.

CourtneyLynne September 21, 2016 - 23:19

AHhhhh I can only imagine! Hope things get better and no you shouldn’t feel any guilt at all!

lakisha September 21, 2016 - 18:43

Maternity leave for up to two years is fantastic. I do not have any children yet and I’ve always told myself I need to become self-employed because 6-weeks leave will not be enough time off for me. I hope transitioning goes well for all you Mommies!

Healthwealthbridge by Dr.Amrita Basu September 21, 2016 - 14:56

It’s just horrible that we don’t get flexibility in jobs .All women should be able to find work from home opportunities.
It’s going to be tough for both of you. God guides

Valerie Ratliff September 21, 2016 - 12:12

It’s so hard either way. You want to do a good job. It’s nice to stay home if you can afford it.

Juliet September 21, 2016 - 10:56

This gives such a great perspective as to what it’s like for mothers! I really enjoyed reading your story. I remember how difficult it was for my mom to return to work after having my brother – this sheds a really good light on that feeling.

Cynthia Nicoletti September 19, 2016 - 16:34

I took off sometime from going back to work. I worked for 2 weeks and I couldn’t do it. I wanted to be home with my baby so much it was affecting my work. I left my job to become a full time mom and have never regretted it..

MyYellowApron September 19, 2016 - 14:02

I only got 2 months of maternity leave and then I used some vacation time and went back to work after 4 months of giving birth. It was insanely hard to leave my baby at home. But in a way, I was also more relaxed after spending time and work and working out and then coming back home. I gave back in two fold.

Fatima September 19, 2016 - 12:39

I was so heartbroken after my first child was born and I had to go back to work. I remember not being able to focus on projects. My colleagues all noticed and I eventually decided it would be best to leave work and stay home with my little one. Today I work for myself because I needed a piece of mind and something to do while the boys slept. As if being a mom wasn’t hard enough 😉

Blair Villanueva September 19, 2016 - 10:08

Oh Sheri, lucky for you that you can avail one-year maternity leave!

Here in the Philippines we only have up to 2 months of maternity leave (which is unpaid leave) and its kind of sucks. My coworkers would share to me that they felt so guilty leaving their babies at home with nannies, coz they need to work. Sometimes they would skip work, and ended up working at home just to attend their babies. I felt sad, but proud of them. They are super Moms!

Amber September 19, 2016 - 08:26

This would be tough. I am thankful that I am able to stay home with my kids.

Catrina September 19, 2016 - 07:47

You’ll be OK! Just give it some time and it will get easier. I had the hardest time when I went back to work. But I’ve realized now (18 months later) that not only does it give me a break from my daughter and allow me to interact with other adults, but it gives me the energy and distance I need to appreciate my time with my kids more.

twotinyhands July 22, 2016 - 17:08

oh no! I have no real advice for you as I’ve opted for the stay at home mum route. We debated it for months though and it just made financial sense to stay at home. I wish you loads of luck x Thanks for linking up to #Abrandnewday

Amudhakumar July 20, 2016 - 08:40

I got the opportunity to take paternity leave. However, I left my daughter on 7th day her birth. It was really pain full. Buy I too have a job to take care.

joleisa July 16, 2016 - 13:39

Your post brings back so many memories to me. The first time I left my son he was about three months old and I just went for a walk. I felt like half of me was missing! Yet I felt odd, walking out without him. I couldnt walk for long but all the time I was worried about him! When I got back home, he was still having his nap! The mommy years are filled with such worry, especially when they’re young! You do get used to it though. Thanks for sharing your story and all the best.

Kiwi July 15, 2016 - 02:09

I hear convos about women feeling guilt all the time. Why? Women have to do all this work to have a baby and prepare you deserve the break from your job. Honestly I am so happy I have a career working from home with my blogging/freelance life because i couldnt imagine guilt tripping myself about leaving work to be a better mother.I will never have that issue…America need to change it anyways 6 weeks isnt enough.

Shelly @ Behind Blue Eyes July 14, 2016 - 23:03

When I was pregnant, I had just started a new job about 2.5 months before my daughter was born. I was not entitled to FMLA so I was only able to take 3 weeks off for maternity leave. I could not afford to go 6 weeks without getting paid, especially having a new born in the picture. I regret every minute of going back to work so soon. My body wasn’t healed for one and that was not enough bonding time with my daughter. Luckily my mom came and stayed with me for 3 weeks to look after my daughter before she could start daycare at 6 weeks.

Ashleigh Walls July 13, 2016 - 19:21

I left my job when I found out I was pregnant. I know that my best friend didn’t like the transition and felt a lot of guilt for leaving her daughter.

Paula July 13, 2016 - 02:00

I’m glad you’ve shared your thoughts about maternity leave. I only took about 4 months after my son was born; and I did not go back to the same job I left, but rather started as a contractor at a new place. I didn’t really like putting my son in a day care center, but I picked a place that we loved and I had a sense of peace about it, knowing that the teachers very much love the students.

Dawn McAlexander July 12, 2016 - 23:20

I wouldn’t feel guilty in the least about going back to work. The child needs to be taken care of, and that requires you working. You are just doing what needs to be done. No guilt at all, I say.

rosepetalsinthesea July 12, 2016 - 22:01

Even though I’ve been working at home for 14 years, I always felt a little guilty getting back to work. However, it made financially sense since children aren’t cheap. 🙂 – HilLesha

alexandria July 12, 2016 - 21:59

i cant imagine how hard that would be. i am lucky enough to be able to stay home, but i am going to be teaching dance classes come Fall, and im so nervous. my daughter is 5 now, but it’s going to be a big adjustment for all of us.

Jill Conyers (@jillconyers) July 12, 2016 - 20:07

My maternity leave was almost 5 years. Twice. You have to do what is best for you and your family and the only one that knows what that is is you. No quilt.

CourtneyLynne July 12, 2016 - 19:17

awwwww…. As nervous as you are to leave your little one, it must be exciting to get back to work! Hope the transition goes smoothly

Heather July 12, 2016 - 17:13

I had always planned to go back to work after my oldest was born, but I decided not to. It was a crazy few years, but I was happy with my decision.

Cathy Mini July 12, 2016 - 17:02

I totally give credit to moms who go back to work. I know the guilt could probably be bad. You have to do what’s best for you and your family though.

Ana De Jesus July 12, 2016 - 16:46

Aw well done on getting back to work, you shouldn’t feel guilty you will still be an amazing mum. Plus you will have plenty of stories to tell and you will be a superhero working and juggling kids at the same time.

tahneerose July 12, 2016 - 11:59

When I first had my daughter I went back to work a week after she was born and felt awful. I felt like i was a bad mom for leaving her. But we needed the income at the time. I just learned she was soo loved by her daddy and even more by me each time I got home! Ha if that makes sense!

Becca Wilson July 12, 2016 - 11:08

I have worked outside the home and inside the home while my kids are here with me. I can tell you when I first went back to work I had a little bit of guilt. I took two months off when my last child was born. It starts to feel better after a while especially if your child is going somewhere during the day where they are around other children. You are in a sense helping to build their social life without you. My little ones are very dependent on me since I have worked at home now for 1.5 years. I wish that I had somewhere they could go just for a few hours that I could afford so that they could have other interactions.

tp keane July 12, 2016 - 09:53

my guilt is all self-induced. The kids are grand with their father, or grandparents, but when they were very young, I still couldn’t leave them.

Denea July 12, 2016 - 09:32

Truth: I was so ready to go back to work. I was miserable staying at home. I loved both of my kids but it takes a special type of person to enjoy being home!

littlemisscant July 12, 2016 - 09:04

Umm, I guess you could say I never really ended my maternity leave! I just switched from going out to work to working here at the house.I opened up a dayhome so I could be with my own little ones and honestly I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I do feel guilty some times leaving the kids but I know I need to for my sanity. LOL!!

Amanda Love July 12, 2016 - 03:34

Leaving the house for groceries is already tough, what more if you have to spend more time outside everyday! It’s not going to be easy but you’re going to get used to it in time. I’m sure a lot of parents feel the same way. It’s heartbreaking to leave your baby at home, but it’s something that we must do.

Terri Steffes July 11, 2016 - 21:45

Although it’s been over 30 years, I remember going back to work earlier than anticipated. My daughter was adjusting to life so well, plus she loved meeting people and so I ended up going back about 4 weeks early. I had a part time job as the director of a preschool, so Ashley could go with me, which made the transition a lot easier!

reesa July 11, 2016 - 21:05

I ended up staying home because after 6 weeks I was just NOT ready to leave my son. I really give big credit to moms who go back to work after their baby. What can you do though, unfortunately that is life!

tiarasandtantrums July 11, 2016 - 20:58

Thankfully we were able to be okay with my decision to stay home after my son was born. The original plan was to return to work, but my son was born with some disabilities that didn’t allow that ad my job would not let me take a longer leave or work form home, so I had to quit.

GlamKaren July 11, 2016 - 17:18

You can do it! I’m sure it will be super challenging, but take it day by day. Step by step…

thestationerygeekette July 11, 2016 - 11:28

In the UK you get 1 year Maternity leave. I however have had the luxury of almost two years as my partner works just enough for us to get by.
I went back to work 2 weeks ago, 2 days a week in a new job, new place. My only worry was whether my daughter would be ok in nursery, I had been putting her in there for 2 weeks previous to get her use to the staff there. Luckily she loves it.

I decided to look for part time work because selfishly I don’t think I could cope with working full time spending time without my daughter. Working full time doesn’t make you less of a parent, just more of a Superhero. I know she’d be fine if I worked full time but would I? I feel like I need her more than she needs me, she’s my best friend. I know I will eventually go back to work full time but I’m hoping to put it off until she is 4 and going to school.
I know it sounds daft and pathetic but I really would miss her company.

One thing that will be good for you is the new role, it will be a great distraction in those weeks where you adjust:)

Sheri July 11, 2016 - 16:46

Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! It is so hard to imagine going back but your words ” Working full time doesn’t make you less of a parent, just more of a Superhero.” are so encouraging and I am so glad that you stated this here. It gives me so much hope and encouragement which I really need right now. I don’t think you sound daft and pathetic at all – I think it is great that she is your best friend and that you would miss her. That is exactly how it should be. I feel the same about my darling boy too.

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