Returning to work post-baby …
Going back to work post baby is a big deal. Even though you might not have changed, your life has.
Some of us need to go back for the job and some need to go back for the money. Not everyone can afford a live-in nanny to help them manage going back to work. No matter when you are planning to return to work after having a child, here are some ways to make it a little easier on yourself.
Negotiating with work
Sometimes you are not in a position to negotiate but try and work with the business to find an ideal situation in regard to hours, days, time in the office etc. Even if you want to go back full time see you if you can start slowly, like 3 days a week for the first week and work your way back up to what you want to do. Try to also get at least one day at home. This will enable you some head space and some laundry time.
To successfully negotiate what you want, you need to have stayed in contact with one or two key people. If possible, ensure you have strong relationships with your boss and someone in HR, as they can advocate for you within the business. Do not be surprised that things will have changed no matter how long you have had off. Expect new staff, new roles etc and you might have to muscle your way back in. The more people you are in contact with, the more information you will have to work your way back in.
There is a high chance there will be issues. In today’s day and age there are still ways around the law and your employment rights. Various businesses say their family friendly but not many places are genuinely and instead it ends up being a lot of compromise. They may want to change your contract, your role, your responsibilities, your salary, your allowances, your team. This will be hard. Sometimes this is not personal but many organisations are run by men who might have a different view on what mothers can actually do. Some organisations do women returning to work very well but many do not, and everyone hears some horror stories. So be prepared to have to deal with opinions and different agendas when returning to work.
At some point you will probably need some childcare. Leaving your child is going to be hard enough but leaving them with strangers is a different thing. Go visit the childcare. Tour a few and you will know what is best for your child. They all vary in hours, cost and their level of communication with you. Choose what is best, at this time, for you and your child. You can always change or move onto somewhere else if you change jobs or days over the years.
There are also a lot of options outside traditional childcare settings for you. Consider your options. Ask around. Nannies are great. Some can even help around the home. Interview them and again you will know the right one when you meet them. There are a lot of agencies that can help with this process otherwise ask around on local mummy Facebook groups for the latest news and views.
Children are very resilient, and they are more up for change than we are sometimes. They will adapt to childcare. It will take a good fortnight of the new childcare routine but they will be up and running before you know it. Many children love the social aspect of childcare so this also might be good for them.
On a practical front there is a lot you can do help yourself when you go back to work, some ideas include:
- Cleaner – get yourself a cleaner. If you can’t afford weekly then fortnightly will take a huge amount of pressure of you. Even getting help with the bathroom will help free up your time at home to be present when you are physically there.
- Meal planning and preparation – plan your meals for the week. This will reduce your takeaway spending but also ensure you are eating as healthy as possible. Anything you can heat and serve at the end of a long work day will be more time effective than organising something else. Many mums also suggest to get as much delivered as possible, like groceries and fruit and vegetables.
- Repack bags when you get home – ensure you repack everyone’s bag ready to go before the morning. This will make the morning dash a lot smoother if everyone can grab what they need and go.
- Put out everyone’s clothes before bed the night before. This will save arguments and discussion in the morning. This will also enable your little person to learn to dress themselves longer term.
- Pumping/Bottles. However you plan to continue feeding the baby get prepared. If pumping ensure your kit is ready to take to work and any liquid gold you make is safely stored and transported. If using bottles get enough always ready to cover yourself so you are not sterilising bottles morning and night.
Lower your expectations
This might sound like any easy one but it’s always good to keep some perspective. Do not expect yourself to be able to do everything and everything perfectly. There is a high chance you will need to adjust your expectations at home and with your child. Social media and the media generally paints a very stereotypical view of the world and motherhood. Do not get tied up in all of this and it is not the real world.
Weigh up time versus cost for yourself and work out if you really need to be doing it. For example, cooking a cake vs buying one for a birthday party. It might have to be take away some nights. The work presentation might not have all the fanciest graphics but it has the key information. You will need to make these types of decisions every day so choose wisely what you use your time for.
Ask for help. And pay for help.
There will be times when you need extra help. Ask for help as most times people are more than happy to help but just need to be told what to do. Don’t treat those who help like staff, again you will need to lower your expectations. Have a list of people you can call upon in case of an emergency. These will change over the years and that’s ok as your life will change too.
Date night. Life is busy between work and children and it is important to connect with your partner instead of always just talking about what needs to be done to keep going day to day. Book a date night once a month. Organise a babysitter – pay for one or ask someone to help out. Even two hours away from home eating a meal or seeing a movie will be beneficial to you and your partner.
Don’t think there won’t be mum guilt. Everyone has it no matter what you choose to do. You will make the best choices for you and your family at the time. Things can change if they are not right but always believe in yourself and your long term visions and dreams.
At times your head will be in two places – work and home. Outside this there won’t be much time to do too much else for awhile and that is ok. And sometimes something will be missed or not completed perfectly at either home or work but these things do happen. Shake it off. Have a moment. Pick yourself up and start the new day fresh.
Returning to work after having a baby is a big step. You have to create a new routine for everyone. Give yourself some time to make it all work. If you want it, you will make it happen!