Returning to work…. Three simple words to send a feeling of dread down any new mothers spine … The cause of stress, anxiety and a few grey hairs I’m sure. We can all agree it’s a painful time. Mum guilt is real.
In South Africa we are not as blessed as our European colleagues who can get up to one full year off, though we are a great sight better off than moms in the USA, who typically receive NO paid maternity leave. But at 3 months old, You have just started to bond with your baby, your cute little cherub is actually starting to show some signs of personality and independence. You have just begun to learn your baba’s cues, yet suddenly you’re preparing to leave them with a caregiver of some sort. It’s completely understandable that’s it’s so stressful.
Coupled with the nerves of leaving your baby behind, you also have to deal with your position at work. Will things have changed? Did your colleagues manage your work load smoothly, or did they do it better than you perhaps?
Heres a little advice I can give, based on experience, to help you through.
This too shall pass. Actually, that may become one of my life’s motto’s. It gets easier with time.
Millions of women go back to work after maternity leave. Breathe. You can do this!
Remember that your entire world has just changed, you are dealing with a change in dynamics at home, sleep deprivation, it will take some time to get used to. Go easy on yourself.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy your own time – I can actually laugh when I say that when I went back to work with my eldest, I almost ran out of the front door that first morning. I was lucky though, I had a nanny that I trusted (and continue to trust) tremendously, and at the time, I had slightly flexible hours. I relished the fact that I could get a break from worrying about nap times and smelling of sick up. Being a SAHM is rough yoh!
Nurture your support system – It really does take a village. Make sure that you trust and respect your chosen caregiver, go with your gut and make sure you are comfortable. Ensure that your carer is comfortable with your expectations and has time to adjust to baba before hand. Make sure they know about correct dosages of Panado and signs to check in nappies.
Don’t be afraid to cry – Lets be honest, Mum guilt is VERY real! Remember though, you’re providing for your baby. You’re bringing home money that may better your child’s life. You’re are teaching your child that a woman can have a successful career outside of the home.
If you are breastfeeding don’t be shy about it – There are laws in place to protect you as a new mum. Find out from your HR department what rooms are private and available to use. I used to prop my chair up again the back of the door, because of course It didn’t lock 🙂 Car journeys are also surprisingly the best use of time for pumping. Aint nothing like a traffic jam on the way home with hard boobs 🙂 If you can invest in a great hands free kit, Medela offers a fantastic range and put your car journey to good use.
Stock up on supply – Again if you are breastfeeding you need to start at least a month in advance of building up your freezer supply. I started a bit too late and ended up working myself into a mess making sure baby had enough.
The anticipation is way worse than the reality – Its amazing how you will slip right back into the routine. While the time apart is difficult, it does make you cherish the time you do spend together.
I know from experience your baby wont “forget you”, you’ll see his/her little face light up the second you walk back in the room. Yes your baby may cry when you leave him in the morning, but it will stop, and then you’ll cry the day he doesn’t cry, but its OK, he’s comfortable. It gets easier. The time you do have is more precious and you learn to value quality. Don’t be afraid to find out if your company has flexible hours or family support. You’ll be surprised at how many South African companies are adopting a more global, adaptive structure.
If you have returned to work after baby, what tips helped you get through things?