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.
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
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
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:
*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.