You know how hard it is to return to work after a holiday or long weekend off? Well, imagine how tough it is to go back after 9 months or a year off! Then imagine not only have you got to get used to working again after your year off, but you also have 7000 things to get done every day as well as going into the office.
Yep, going to work and being a mum is a tough gig.
I had 9 months off before returning to work – I did 2 days in the office and 1 from home to begin with. It was hard to get used to and juggle everything but I got back into the swing of things quite quickly. That was 5 years ago now and maternity leave is a distant memory!
I have a few friends just about to return to work and it got me thinking about all the stuff you need to get done before you even decide on a date to return. There’s so much to sort out.
Myself and some other working mum bloggers have put together a list for you of things to think about before going back to work after maternity leave…
Firstly you need to decide what to do with the baby while you’re at work. You might be lucky enough to have family who are happy to help out, in which case you just need to work out the logistics of getting your baby there.
If not, you need to think about childcare options. And start saving!
Make sure you pick a nursery or childminder that you’re comfortable with, it will ease the worry when you’re back at work.
Jaymee from The Mum Diaries says: In regards to childcare look early and reserve a space for when you need it (if possible) some settings get busy and have a waiting list. You can stagger settling in sessions over a few weeks too so it’s not all at once which can be overwhelming for little one. If choosing a childminder, see if you can arrange backup childcare in case they are ill.
Know Your Rights
Before you return to work make sure you know your rights. If you’re still breastfeeding your employer has to provide somewhere suitable for you to express. This has to be a private room with a lockable door. Employers may also need to consider providing facilities for storing the expressed milk so it doesn’t have to go in the communal fridge.
Make sure you’ve also discussed the sickness policy. What happens if your child gets ill – which they will, nursery is full of snotty kids passing germs around. Could you work from home if you had to be home with a chick pox ridden child for a whole week? Or would this be logged against you as sick leave?
How much holiday will you be entitled to? It’s so confusing working out holiday allowance when you’re part-time and is always a good idea to speak to HR in advance.
All mums are entitled to up to 10 Keeping In Touch (KIT) days during their maternity leave. You get paid for these without it affecting your maternity allowance and they’re a great way to familiarise yourself with work again before you officially go back.
Get your salary confirmed
If you’re going back part-time then your salary will be worked out pro-rata depending on how many hours you’ll be working.
It’s hard to work out yourself but I always find this salary calculator really handy.
Make sure your employer has confirmed in writing what your new take home pay will be so there are no nasty surprises at the end of the month. This will also allow you to budget for childcare costs.
Does your employer offer flexible working?
More and more companies are getting used to offering flexible hours now. Check whether this is something that your employer offers. If so it can really help out if you need to leave early or start late due to childcare, or work from home now and again.
It will especially help when you first return to work if you can do a day from home or early finish here and there.
Kirsty from A Mum Saving Money says: I used some of my annual leave I had accumulated whilst being on maternity leave to gradually return to work i.e working 2 days instead of 3 days for the first month & my son gradually built up his hours at nursery. This helped get us into a routine.
Think about your commute
After maternity leave, you’ll have to plan your journey to work around getting your little one to nursery. Is it on your way to work or will you have to take a detour? When you get to work will you be able to park easily?
Victoria from Lylia Rose suggests: Practice the nursery run/work run before the big day to make sure timings are spot on!
If you’re doing any Keeping In Touch Days (KIT) this is a good time to do a trial run of the nursery/work run.
How will you fit everything else in?
Going to work when you’re a mum is a whole different ball game to when you’re child-free! You’ll be rushing out of work and straight to pick up your child. If you work full days you’ll get in the door and be getting your baby’s dinner ready straight away, before a very rushed bath and bedtime. After that, you’ll collapse on the sofa, wolf down your dinner, and most likely fall asleep in front of the tv.
Think about when everything else will get done. Do you need a day at home to get your housework and washing done? If you’re going back full-time is it worth looking at getting a cleaner?
Becka from Mummy est.2014 says – When will you fit in shopping? Signing up for online shopping can be a big help as it then comes to you AND they offer quite late night deliveries so you can fit it into your day.
Go easy on yourself
Don’t go back thinking that you’re going to hit the ground running and find it all as easy as when you left. A lot can change in a business in a year, you might have new colleagues, you may even have a new boss. Your brain will be mush from watching constant CBeebies and only talking about babies, and you’ll still be shattered from the sleepless nights.
Ease yourself in gently and don’t stress if it takes you a while to pick everything up.
Nicola from The Mummy Monster says: It is ok to admit that you have been off and you aren’t up to date with everything. Be honest with people and the phrase that has got me through my return to work is saying “I am not sure but I will find out for you.” Give yourself a break and things will start to return.
What are you going to wear?
Possibly almost as stressful as what you’re going to do with your child! You want to look your best on your first day back but you might not have snapped back to your pre-baby body yet. You’ll probably also have got used to living in tracksuit bottoms for the last year. So what are you going to wear to the office?
None of your pre-baby clothes probably fit so you’ll have to go shopping. By now you’ll have forgotten what kind of thing people even wear to work, let alone find anything that fits your new shape.
And good luck if you’re as unlucky as me to have a load of mid-twenties, childless ladies in the office parading around in short skirts and high heels!
You definitely need to give your work wardrobe some thought to avoid last minute panics in the morning.
Laura from Edinburgh With Kids says: I know I had to think a great deal about my work wardrobe. Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t back to my original weight so needed to rethink some things. But it was a bit shock to the system to get back in heels after a year in uggs!
There’s definitely a lot to take into account when you’re getting ready to go back to work after having a baby. I hope these tips have helped you – and not scared you off!
If you’re a working mum do you have any other advice? If you’re returning to work soon do you have any other worries?