Back to work today. By which I mean proper office work rather than Mumfidential work. Sob.
Alfred on the other hand howled as I left…. crawling at break-neck speed towards me as I slipped out the door, tears rolling down his pudgy cheeks.
I’m crying into my Pret sandwich just thinking about it.
So, here are some tips for returning to work from maternity leave from Kristen Harding, a childcare expert at nanny agency, Tinies (www.tinies.com)
Choose the childcare that works for you
When it comes to childcare there are three fundamentals – you need something that’s affordable, accessible and that you trust.
The four main options are childminder, nanny, nursery and family members. A childminder will take care of your children in their home so you’ll need to be relaxed about routines as your child will not be the only one in their care.
A Nanny will take care of your children in your own home and they will implement your rules and routines – many people perceive Nannies as being the expensive option but depending on the number of children you have it can work out cheaper than nursery.
If you only have one child but would like to consider a nanny – try sharing sites such as Nannyshare.co.uk which halves the costs.
Choosing a nursery means your hours are dictated to you, however it’s a great choice for the social element as well as clearly defined learning objectives. In the first few years, continuity of care is the most important thing – so finding a loving, secure environment where the people your child interacts with won’t change constantly is key.
Make working from home work for you
Ideally you’ll have childcare in place while you work but sometimes this just isn’t possible so here’s a few things to think about:
– Arrange mid-week playdates where you can steal a couple of hours to yourself. You’ll need to return the favour of course… but schedule yours at the weekend.
– Work your personal network – approach family and close friends for help. People are amazingly flexible and if you can offer something in return, e.g. some free babysitting you might be pleasantly surprised by the response you get!
– Create space – make sure you’ve got an area in your house that can be your office that is out of bounds for children, it’ll be easier to explain that Mummy is working if they associate you working with a particular location.
– Find creative ways to entertain your children while working that don’t need much supervision. Activities like painting are not ideal but encourage them to do activities that take a longer period of time, so that you can focus for longer!
Balance work and family
This will mean different things to different people, depending on what job and how many children you have! You’ll also find your definition changes over time.
Make sure the time you spend with your family is quality time. When you’re together, turn off your electronic devices, don’t answer the phone or check emails. When you’ve got alone time, are you doing things that you love? Reading a book, playing a sport, enjoying your favourite boxset or even meditating. Whether you’re at work or at home focus on what you need to do to maximise your time.
Set expectations and stick to them, both at home and at work; just as you wouldn’t cancel a meeting with your colleagues, don’t cancel your loved ones; your partner deserves the same respect – date night is date night!
Take time to think about what balance means to you, in this moment and remember that it won’t be achieved in a day. It’ll take time but it’s worth it in the end.
Returning to work after maternity leave can be one of the hardest times in your career as you feel out of the loop and your mind will have been on other things, i.e. baby, baby and more baby!
Some mums are ready to go back and find it a very natural transition. However, many have lost a lot of confidence and feel consumed with guilt about leaving their little one and/or that they’re not putting as many hours in as they used to at work.
Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director of Coaching at My Family Care (www.myfamilycare.co.uk) always says “the women who thrive are those who overcome feelings of guilt as this only helps to undermine their self-esteem”.