Going back to work is like going on a first date with someone you’ve dated before. It’s like you haven’t seen this person in a long time and so much has happened in-between! I have so many mixed emotions. One minute I was overly excited to be restarting my career again, the next I’m crying because I miss my daughter!
It takes a lot of preparation. Our mornings are even more crazy-busy. I wake up at about 6am, which I don’t mind as it’s so quiet in the house. When it’s 6.45am, I wake Madeleine and my hubby up! Shortly after, I’m at work, forgetting all the mayhem from that morning. Although I miss being with my daughter, I’ve also missed being at work and all the hustle and bustle from meeting deadlines to working with my colleagues.
Here are my tips for going back to work after maternity leave:
1. Get organised. I made sure I prepared dinner the night before and packed my lunch for the next day. This helped us a lot so that when I got home from work, dinner was already on the table and my daughter was fed well before her bedtime (7.30pm). It takes a lot of time for preparation but it ensures that everything runs smoothly when we get home.
2. Get new work clothes. This isn’t a necessity, it’s more of a luxury. But I figured that I’m headed back to work as a different person now that I’m a mum. New attire marks a new chapter for me and I like to feel confident and professional. It’s been a while since I’ve been at work and a new outfit would make me feel just that!
3. Ease baby into childcare or with their carer. Make sure you’ve organised well in advance who would be looking after your little one whilst you’re at work. This will give both the carer and your baby plenty of time to get used to each other and their routine. The earlier this is planned the smoother it’ll be for you once you start making that transition back to work.
4. Organise your work bag. Up until now, your bag has been filled with nappies, wipes, creams, spare change of clothes, sippy cup, bottle, milk dispenser, snacks, favourite toys… You won’t be needing those at work, so reorganize your bag so that you have the tools and essentials required for a day at the office.
5. Get your outfit ready the night before. I have major issues with picking out what to wear, especially if it’s not thought out. The mornings are so busy now and I don’t have time to think about what matches what.
6. Go to bed early: I go to bed at 10pm. My daughter is only a year old and most nights she does sleep through with the odd night where she’ll wake at 4am. I don’t want to be falling asleep during work meetings, so an early night’s sleep is crucial.
7. Wake up early! I wake at 6am to get myself ready first before waking up the rest of the family. Sorry mummas, there’s no time for snoozing, especially if you need to be at work on time!
8. Handover to her carer: allow extra time at drop-off to handover to your little one’s carer. Information such as “could you keep an eye on her temperature as she had a fever last night” or “she didn’t have a full breakfast this morning” ensures that your little one gets the attention they’ll need.
9. Home time: Me driving through rush hour traffic to pick up my daughter is like a mad woman busting to go to the toilet. (Did you know: Driving with a full bladder is as distracting as driving drunk?) I have never rushed out of work so quickly in my life. I have an excuse now, I don’t want my daughter to be the last kid to be picked up. Oh the guilt!
10. Bedtime routine: We have a strict routine to ensure that our little one sleeps on time and through the night. Dinner is at 6pm, bath at 645pm, bottle at 7pm and asleep by 730pm.
11. Take your phone charger to work or carry a portable one! It is crucial that your phone doesn’t run out of battery, as this is the first point of contact for your little one’s carer!
12. Know your rights: if you are still breastfeeding, check with your employer what your pumping rights are. At my work, you are allowed a 15 minute break every 3 hours in a private room to express. Make sure you bring all the correct equipment if you want to store your breast milk.
After having such a long time off work, going back can be stressful. You can read about my anxiety I experienced here. However, I have found that with the right preparation, everything can go smoothly. It is definitely busy but you’ll come to realise that you’ll enjoy having a small part of your own life back. The time spent apart will make you appreciate the time spent together even more!