Returning to work after having a baby is a time of mixed emotions, whether you are going back after a few months, a year, or longer. Guilt plays a big factor for many mums, but you need to put it in perspective and remember that happy mums mean happy babies. Going back to work has many positives, such as allowing you to have grown up conversations again, and allowing you to achieve more in your chosen career.
The practical arrangements for who will look after your baby, where, at what times and how much this will cost is something which I am sure you have already thought about. When it comes to getting back into the working routine, no amount of planning will make it problem free. Aim to start your childcare a day or two early to get into practice, ensure that your baby is happy with the carer, and get used to being baby-free again. There are a variety of government funding options available to help pay for childcare. Have a chat with fellow working Mum's to find out the latest policies or do a search online.
At some point, your baby or your care provider will be ill - and you will need to think about alternative arrangements. It might be agreed with your work that you are able to take the time off at short notice, if not then perhaps a friend or family member could be your emergency backup. Have this planned before you go back to work, and be sure to keep tabs on when your backup may not be available.
Working and being a mum is a juggling act. Pack everything that you can for your baby's day and yours the night before, and make a list for the final bits you need to pack in the morning. Become a fan of lists, on the fridge, in the car...
Return to Work
If you are able to choose exactly when you return, then be kind to yourself and plan to go back halfway through the week, easing you back into the working routine slowly.
Most employers are sympathetic and understand the stresses associated with returning to work. Scheduling an informal meeting with your boss the week before your return to discuss your workload and priorities could help you feel more prepared for the first day back.
Perhaps you have already decided on working flexible hours, working from home or maybe only returning to work part time?
Whatever you have agreed, don't let the first week make you feel like you've made the wrong decision. It won't be easy but give it time and see how you feel. If after a few weeks you still aren't happy, talk to your boss to find out what your options are.
Perhaps you are returning to a new job, or just looking for something which will fit around your new life as a mum. There are many options, from self-employed jobs to part time and freelance positions, all with their own unique challenges.
For example you could put your childcare skills to use and become a qualified childminder, or you may wish to help pregnant mums to be by becoming a Hypnobirthing practitioner.
Keep your Mum friends
After being at home with your baby for the past months, you will probably now have some new mother friends. It is important not to lose contact with other mums when back at work, as being able to talk about your baby with people who understand is extremely valuable. Plan a weekend get together - if only for a coffee it gives you something nice to look forward to.
Working and being a mum is tiring. Don't try to do all that you did pre-baby, and set yourself an earlier bedtime. Sleep is important not only to stay physically healthy, but helps you deal with stress too.
Being a mum is one of the most important jobs you can do, juggling work with this role requires much effort and determination. If you're feeling stressed, or having a bad day, take a few minutes to think of the positives and then tackle the problems one by one. Don't forget to take the time to do things for yourself, whether it is an afternoon shopping with friends or an evening curled up with a good book. Find the happy balance between work, family and career and enjoy the benefits of being a working mum.