There’s nothing quite like maternity leave. You’ll probably never have a time like it again. It’s probably going to be the only period in your life where it’s completely okay to stay at home with your baby and simply bond. For many women, it’s the most precious time in their child’s life and so when it ends, it can cause havoc in a family. It’s not just the emotional aspect- although it cetainly is a wrench to have to leave your baby with another carer- but there are practical implications too. This week we published Emma’s post, asking for help and advice with her return to work after having her second child. This is the advice you gave her:
- Helen advises working mums to try to separate work from family in your mind and MAKE time for yourself. Promise yourself that you will do ONE thing for yourself each week, even if it’s just painting your toe-nails.
- Make mealtimes family time. Katie preps a lot of her meals the night before to save time and always makes sure she’s home from work in time to eat with the whole family. Make sure that your partner shares the workload here, too.
- Take the plunge. Kid’s Let Dance was set up after one mum decided she wanted to be her own boss- and be there to take the kids to and from school. Have a similar dream? Chase it!
- Talk about taking one day off each week, rather than returning full time. Sometimes it can make all the difference and you’re more likely to make the most of that precious day with the kids too. IF your finances can cope, it might be just what you need to survive the return to work.
- Emma advises to make a schedule- and stick to it! If you know you have a certain number of practical tasks to complete each week, then make a timetable to do them and make sure the rest of the family know about it. Add your partner to the list too, to make sure that chores are shared reasonably.
- Talk to your employer about how you’re feeling. This is an important one because if your boss isn’t aware of any issues, you will never find a solution. If you find that your workload or working hours are affecting the time you spend with the family, be open about finding a compromise. If you can work more flexible hours, then maybe that’s a solution? Either way, it pays to be direct and honest.
- Make the most of the weekend. This one is easier said than done. Don’t fret about deadlines that are looming or that report you didn’t finish. If you can find the ‘off switch’ then that’s one of the best things you can do for your family at the weekend.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect to get ALL of your planned tasks done- at the end of the day, working AND looking after children is exhausting. If the hoovering has to be skipped in favour of one more bedtime story, then skip it. The house won’t fall apart.
- Save. This is a great tip. Even if you’re returning to work because your finances depend on it, putting aside just £1 each week can be effective. When there’s enough in the pot, take the kids out for a treat, or spend it on yourself. A little reminder that you are out there earning money and that’s why you’re away from your kids. This might seem a little silly, but sometimes it’s nice to know not all of your hard earned money is going on groceries and other bills!
- Plan your childcare early. If your return to work seems months off, don’t just put it to the back of your mind and forget all about it. Sometimes the best nurseries have long waiting lists, for example, so it pays to be organised. Spend some time before you return making sure your child is settled with their new carer before you add in the stress of returning to the work place.
It really is hard, both emotionally and practically, when you return to work after maternity leave. There are so many factors to consider and for some mums, it can be heartbreaking having to leave a child and return to a job that isn’t enjoyed. But the truth of the matter is that most of us need to work in order to pay the bills or to maintain a sense of individuality- or both. Whatever the reason, returning to work is a necessity for many mums and that’s why we’re keen to offer as much support and advice as we can. Have you recently returned to work after maternity leave, or are you about to take the plunge? What worked for you when you made the transition?