You might be excited or terrified. Anxious and paranoid.
You probably feel you’ve changed both physically and emotionally, you wonder if you’re still going to be able to fit into those pencil skirts and tailored shirts you used to wear to work.
Perhaps your post baby pouch is also still quite visible and this may have knocked your confidence a notch or two. As the days draw nearer to going back to work, you’ll experience all kinds of mixed emotions, but you’re not alone…
When I went back to work after my first baby, I was a little petrified actually. I had left my old job to have my baby but that wasn’t the only reason I left, I think it was about time I moved on so when I went back to work, it was to a totally different environment. New colleagues, new work place and new everything. I had no idea what to expect and the fact that my main companion for the last 7 months was a baby didn’t really help…unless my new colleagues spoke baby.
My anxiety was totally unnecessary though as I think this actually worked well in my favour. No one knew I had just had a baby, I was just like every other person so no one fussed over me like a mother hen. There wasn’t any of those…oh how’s your baby looks, or how are you feeling? Are you missing your baby? etc. I know people at work only mean well when they ask these questions but I think after welcoming you back into the fold and asking how baby is the first time, everyone should just go back to minding their work. If they want to know how you’re feeling…they should ask after the close of work.
You’re already anxious about leaving your baby for the whole day for the first time, which would make it difficult to concentrate at work, what you don’t need is a constant reminder that you aren’t with your baby and if your baby is doing OK without you.
The most difficult day for me was the first day and I’m sure this is the case for most mums. I called my minder like 20 times within the first two hours and I only stopped because she told me off and told me I was making her agitated. As I didn’t want an agitated person looking after my baby…..I grew a pair and reduced the calls to once every hour. I even snuck into the rest room to call at one point…..gosh! Talk about pain in the arse.
Of course my son was fine…did he miss his mummy? Absolutely, but he was also in good hands and was doing very well indeed without me. I was the one who was freaking out at my ed end; it’s hard not to if you’ve spent every second with your baby before going back to work.
I wrote this post because of my sister-in-law who just returned to work on Monday. She’s doing really well now but on day 1, she was really anxious and worried sick especially since she couldn’t reach her mother in law who was looking after her baby. I spoke to her a few times during the day and tried to reassure her but I’m sure everything I was saying was going over her head. As I’ll be going back to work soon too myself (hopefully)…I thought I’d compile a little list of things to do to alleviate my worries (and any other mums) when I resume work.
Hopefully, I’ll handle things more maturely this time ;-)
I think this is the most important decision you’re going to make now that you’re a working mum. Get this wrong and you are in for a nightmare, get it right, and you’ll be the envy of all your friends…not to mention, it would make your life easier.
In the UK, there are several childcare options and each one has its Pro’s and Cons. It’s up to you which one you feel will work for you.
There’s baby sitters, these are not very common here. Baby Sitters come and look after your baby/ies whenever they are required and do not usually live with you. This arrangement is ideal if you don’t fancy intrusion but want your baby cared for within familiar settings i.e. your own home.
Childminders usually tend to provide their services in their own accommodation. They are usually Ofsted registered too and are monitored regularly to ensure they are working within the strict guidelines set for them. I think the current ratio per childminder is three children? So this would be ideal if you want your child to be looked after in a home setting but don’t want a stranger in your home everyday. Your baby will also have the option of interacting with other kids and this in itself can present challenges. It could be positive because your baby learns interaction and social skills early on or negative if your baby starts copying bad stuff from the other kids. Either way, childminders are very popular amongst working mums in the UK and this was my first childcare option when I went back to work. It really worked for me although it worked out quite expensive. I didn’t mind though because my childminder was great and my son loved her!
Au Pair‘s are another option. In addition to looking after your kids, they also usually help with housework. You would probably need to contact an agency to find one but these are readily accessible over the internet. There is a catch with Au Pair’s though. You must have a spare room in your home to accommodate them. They are also very strict with their contract specifications so you might want to make sure you’re clear about your needs and how flexible you might need them to be. They aren’t usually Ofsted registered as most are from developing countries and might not have proper training on childcare. The help with housework could be a life saver though; as all working mums know….keeping on top of that with baby and work is a tall order. A friend of mine swears that her Au Pair was the best at laying beds…she cleaned the house so well that she felt like she was in a five-star hotel!
Nurseries are usually the most expensive of all the options. It’s also the most regulated. Most mums pick the nursery because they feel safer as this is a more professional setting. There’s more children and more minders so again, your baby will interact and develop social skills quickly. Most nurseries in London accept babies as young as 3 months but this might not necessarily be a great idea as baby might still be too young to be exposed to all the germs that are inevitable in such a communal setting. I know nursery staff are trained extensively on handling babies but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with leaving my 3 month old baby at the nursery unless I didn’t have a choice.
You need time to prepare yourself for going back to work. Sort things out before the D- day. Research all the childcare options available to you, chose one and make sure you have a settling in period with your chosen childcare giver before you go back, I reckon at least a week to establish routines and for your minder to get a feel for your baby. This would also be a perfect time to talk about your concerns and address them Before you start work.
If you haven’t done so already, you need to try on your old work clothes just to check if they still fit. If you’re like me, then they won’t, so you’ll need a clear out to establish what you can or can’t wear anymore. Your local charity shop would sure be grateful!
Take this opportunity to give yourself a treat. Go shopping for new clothes that flatter your figure now. You might not be able to wear your figure hugging tops anymore but that shouldn’t stop you from still looking your best and being confident in your body.
-Stay In Touch
It’s always worth staying in touch with your work colleagues. If you can pop in about twice during your leave (telling them before hand of course), that would be great. Otherwise, just calling in to talk to your colleagues will keep you in the loop with things so you won’t feel so out of it when you get back.
-Plan and Practice your Routine
You’ve got everything well planned in your head. When you’ll wake up and bathe the baby, and what time you’ll be out the door on D day, but nothing goes according to plan in the world of babies let me tell you.
You need a test run of this plan before you actually resume work. A few days before, why not try out your proposed routine and see if it actually works out like you planned? Chances are it probably won’t but the good news is, now you know what to tweak to make it work. On the real day, you’ll know what to do and will be more prepared to face the day rather than panicking and arriving late on your first day back.
- Calm Down
It’s a fact that no matter what you do, you’ll still worry…especially on your first day. Just remind yourself that your child is in good hands and you’ll see them in a few hours. You can put in place a system of feedback with your minder where they keep you informed as the day goes on (so you don’t feel you’re nagging) maybe through pictures or text messages…at least to keep you re assured.