Just as you’re getting used to being home with your baby and your work life feels like a distant memory, you realize that your maternity leave is coming to an end.
Baby sleeps well some nights, but there are certainly nights where you’re still up until 2 or 3am sitting at the side of your little one’s bed, hoping that any minute they might just doze back off. The thought of waking up at 6am, putting on workwear and racing off to work after being up all night feels like something out of a nightmare. And then there’s the guilt, should I be spending so much time away from my little one?
No matter how long and hard you’ve thought about your decision to return to work, and how sure you are that it’s the right choice, you need to be prepared for mixed emotions. One minute you might feel like you’ve absolutely made the right choice and the next minute you’re sitting at your desk in tears wondering how you could possibly leave your baby in someone else’s care. Reality is however that often mums need to return to work sooner than they would have preferred these days, with the cost of living so high and the need to meet repayments to support the family unit.
Rest assured however that you will know what is best for you and your family when it comes to returning to work or staying at home with your child. When the time comes to return to work, be proud of the fact that you are doing all that you can to help support your family, and making hard earned dollars so that your child can benefit in the years to come. Rest assured that you’re also an amazing role model to your children, as well as your friends and family who are amazed at how you work all day and then come home and continue to work. You spend all day in the office, then cook the family meal, change your child’s nappies, spend hours of playing and entertaining and then bathing your baby and yourself before dozing off to sleep to repeat the same tomorrow.
Although you’ll inevitably encounter a few bumps along the way, these few tips will make heading back to work a little less stressful:
● Prepare everything you need the night before – It’s always easier to get things done at night rather than early in the morning. The rush in the morning always seems so much worse after you have already had a bad night’s sleep. Add in a 5:30 feeding session, a 6am nappy change and you will appreciate any spare second you can find. Lay out your workwear the night before, shower at night if you can, and prep your lunch so it’s all ready to go.
● Wear clothes that fit and flatter your new body – Trying to squeeze back into pre-baby clothes might be exactly what you want to do. However there’s a need for practicality here, especially as it takes the body a decent amount of time to return to ‘pre-baby’ shape. It took nine months for your body to get to where it is, so be patient while it finds its way back. Treat yourself to a few new pieces that flatter your new shape and that you’re comfortable wearing to work and for everyday wear. Workwear needn’t be uncomfortable, there are plenty of options for flowy tops and elasticated waistbands that’ll go easy on your figure.
● Make your workspace comfortable – Whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable at work. Do it. It might be a photo of your little one perched on your pin board. It might mean a footrest beneath your desk to rest those tired legs. Perhaps you need a private room at work so that you feel comfortable to continue feeding. Your workplace will no doubt be happy to have you back and do their best to accommodate the needs of the newest mum in the office.
Returning to work after maternity leave can certainly bring about a boil up of emotions, however often it can also be a welcome relief from the long and hard days at home. It can be a great way to feel as though you have more of your old life back. Feeling like you’re trapped is often something that new mums experience. So being able to socialize, and have a little bit of time to yourself on a lunch break at work can be really grounding and rewarding. Enjoy the transition back into the workforce, after all of your hard work of late, you might even find heading back to the office a breeze!
If you’ve transitioned back to work after maternity leave, share your advice for other mums below.