We all know that feeling. That blissful feeling at 8.5months pregnant when you wave your colleagues off and skip (waddle) off in to the horizon to start your new life as a mummy. You have an absolute lifetime off! In fact, a full year (or 9 months, however long your blessed to have off) feels like your never actually returning.
Except it sounds like a long time, but in actual fact, that year passes by quicker than you can blink and you find yourself on a Monday morning kissing your little ones goodbye and trudging up the path to work!
Whether you come off maternity leave back in to full time work or part time work the transition is really difficult. A lot has happened in the time you’ve been away and it’s important to make sure you are properly prepared in order to make life easier for yourself, your family and your work colleagues.
So here are my top tips to help you make that return to work easier after maternity leave.
- Attend “KIT” days. A lot of work places today offer “Keep in touch” days where you can attend work for a morning/afternoon or full day, fully paid in order to catch up with what’s happening at work, attend important meetings and generally remind yourself about how to do the job! You can have up to 10 KIT days in most work environments but check with your HR team to find out what your employer offers.
- Sort your childcare out in plenty of time and make sure you are comfortable with it and that they are flexible. Arrange a meeting with your employer around 8 weeks before you are due back to work and see if they can offer you anything that makes your childcare situation easier such as set working days, shorter working hours, flexi time etc.
- If you are still breastfeeding when you return to work, make sure that your employer knows about it. They should ensure that you have regular short refreshment breaks and that you have a suitable private place to express breastmilk and store it if necessary. Again, speak to your HR team if you are unsure of your employee rights.
- Prepare. The first day will be chaos as you try to figure out your new routine. Make your lunch and layout your clothes the night before and make sure your bag is all packed and ready to go. It’s also helpful to have your children’s belongings/clothes all ready the night before too so your not rushing around in the morning and you don’t turn up at work shattered before you’ve even started!
- Get rid of the guilt. Easier said than done and I definitely need to practice what I preach but getting rid of the mummy guilt about going to work will make life a lot easier. Whether you have to go back to work for financial reasons or whether you want to go back to work because you want to do something for you make sure you don’t feel guilty about it. Your children will be fine, they wont have abandonment issues nor will they feel less loved. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and you will enjoy your time with them a lot more on your days off.
I hope this was helpful. Enjoy your return to work!
I always knew I wanted to be a mum, it was always in my “life plan”. I also knew that I wanted them to be close in age so that they could grow up together and maybe be best friends. I’ve mentioned before that I’ll never quite know if my family is complete and the prospect of a 3rd child will always be somewhat of a question mark but for now I’m happy with the two I’ve got. There’s 2 years and 3 months between the two of them and it’s quite tricky sometimes having two children under the age of 3. I know there are plenty of people out there who have smaller age gaps between their children and I have the upmost respect for them. It’s not easy no matter what the age gap but I’ve wrote down a few of my tips that help me cope looking after two small children.
Get out of the house – It genuinely doesn’t matter where you go, or what you really do so long as you spend a portion of your day (everyday) out of the house. Go to the park, baby groups, supermarket anything. My worst days with two children are the days where I’ve been couped up in the house.
Allow more time – This goes hand in hand with the above advice. It takes me twice as long (if not more) to get 3 of us ready and out than it ever did when I had just one child. Allow plenty of time so you don’t end up barking orders at your children.
Spend quality time with each of them – When D takes a nap in a morning I always make sure I stop whatever I’m doing and get on the floor and play with my daughter. It gives us quality time where she has my undivided attention without the distraction of a baby. Likewise, K still goes to her grandparents on Mondays and Fridays as these are the days I used to work so it gives me one to one time with D.
Keep on track with the housework Something I’m still trying to master! My house will never be a show home of any sort and will always be that little bit cluttered but it’s a typical loving family home. It’s hard work making sure that the children and hubby are taken care of and the house is running smoothly and as I’ve already stated, I’ve probably dropped the ball a few times when it comes to the housework but trying to keep on top of the endless washing piles and dirty dishes makes your home life run that little bit more smoothly meaning that ultimately you get more free time to spend with your children. 30 minutes per day should ensure that everything is ship shape.
Have “me” time – This is so important yet most of us don’t do it. I know I don’t do it half as much as I should for fear of feeling self indulgent but something as simple as a hot soak in the bath once the kids have gone to bed will help you relax and regroup. A happy mummy makes for a happy home!
As most of you know, K started nursery at the start of February and is absolutely loving it. I thought I would be one of those mummy’s who would drop their child off for their first day and be a snivelling, snotting mess. I did leave her with a slightly heavy heart but I was more proud of her than anything and I was happy that she was starting her new adventure as I think it is something she has been craving for a while now. It made it easier to leave her knowing that she was in the right nursery for her and that she was in safe hands. We had viewed a few nurseries in the run up to K starting the one she is at now and I think it’s important to make sure you chose the most perfect one you can find to fit your child’s needs. I have outlined below what helped us choose the right nursery for K and some tips on what to look out for when making your decision.
- Make sure you visit the nursery before you send your child to it and try to view it when it’s busy. When my husband and I were looking for a nursery we both went together but found that because it was towards the end of the day (the only time my hubby could get away from work) it was really quiet, there wasn’t many staff or children around so we couldn’t get a good idea of how the nursery worked. Therefore if we found a nursery we liked the look of and it matched our criteria that we needed then I would rearrange another viewing on my own during the day when it was busier so I could get a feel of how well the nursery ran. You can visit a nursery as many times as you like until you feel satisfied that it is the right one for you.
- If it is a private nursery then how much does it cost to send your child there and does this fit in with your budget? Lets face it, childcare is EXPENSIVE and different nurseries charge different prices. Also ask what is included in the price of your childcare as some provide snacks, lunch and juice plus nappies and formula if needed and some nurseries ask you to bring nappies/formula and pay extra for the child’s lunch. Make sure you are aware of what’s included before hand.
- How many children does the nursery take and what ratio is it teacher to child. Most nurseries we visited worked on 4 children per adult which I think is more than enough. Make sure that the nursery isn’t over capacitating so your child has the right amount of attention and care that is needed.
- Does the nursery have an Ofsted report? How well are they performing? Not all nurseries provide an Ofsted report but if they do, it’s worth looking at it as it gives you a good idea on how well the nursery is performing.
- Most nurseries provide the child with a “settling in period” where they will let your child come to the nursery for a few hours (usually 3-4) for free to see if they like it. Usually a parent or guardian can stay with them to make them comfortable. If the nursery offers you a settling in period then take it. Just because you like the nursery doesn’t mean your child will. This helps them decide whether the nursery is right for them or not. If it isn’t, do not feel obligated to send your child there just because they have given you free childcare.
- Ensure that the nursery has a good security system. Lots of people come and go in nurseries to collect and drop off children so make sure that the nursery has a good code of practice when letting people within the building. Some nurseries require an access code or finger print system before you can enter and others provide a password for your child. Whatever it is, make sure it is safe, secure and you feel comfortable with it.
- Do they have a routine? Not always on peoples “must have” list but it was definitely on mine. I have a daughter who thrives on routine and gets worked up when she does something out of the norm so having a nursery with a structure and routine was vital for us. I quite like the idea of snack time = 9am, reading – 10am, play time – 11am, lunch – 12pm etc. It means that K knew exactly what was going to happen and felt secure rather than it being a mixed bag of stuff to do where she would come home upset and out of sorts. Like I say, it’s not on everyone’s list but worth baring in mind if you have a child like mine.
- Do they have a good, secure out side space? Every child needs fresh air and a chance to explore the outdoors. Is the outside space large enough? Does it have outdoor equipment? Is it safe and secure? It’s also worth asking the nursery how often they go outside and how long for. If your child is there for 8 hours, and they only go outside once in the morning for 10-15mins it may not be enough for your child.
All these points are very individual based and every parent requires different needs for their child but I hope it has given you some ideas on what to look out for when choosing a nursery as it is such an important decision. It is your childs first adventure and I do believe that nurseries shape our children so it is vital to choose the right one. It is such an intimidating procedure. It has to be somewhere that you feel comfortable leaving your child, knowing that they are going to get the correct attention and care for them. It will also probably be the first experience of someone other than yourself or close relatives looking after your precious cargo. Take the time out to make sure you make the right decision.
I hope this helped!
I’d love to hear what was on your nursery “wish list”