When you’re on Maternity Leave, especially those first few months, all you’re thinking about is your newborn baby, and maybe when you’ll find the time to sleep ever again.
Most mums aren’t thinking about what their next step is, they’re enjoying being a Mum and learning everything about their newborn. So when the time actually comes, making a choice if you’re returning to work is quite a daunting feeling. For some, they already know they can work from home, or their partner can hold the fort with most of the bills, so there isn’t a pressure to return to work. For others, like myself, there isn’t much choice and you need two wages for your household.
As a Mum to my gorgeous 19-Month-old daughter Amelia, I’ve been back at work now for almost a year and I’d be lying if I said I’ve made peace with it. I really struggled to return to work and there were several hurdles to jump over. Even now I wonder if I made the right choice, but ultimately you have to push through and be strong and I know deep down this is the right choice for my family and the rest gets easier with time.
Ease yourself back in
Make sure you’re using your ‘keep in touch’ days to discuss your feelings and thoughts with your work whilst on your Maternity Leave. It’s important you know that you can ask to return part-time and work your way back up to full time to ease you back in. I really struggled with communicating when I returned to work. I jumped back in full time as we couldn’t afford to do it gradually and I wish I’d been more sensible and gradually returned. You don’t always realise how only watching Peppa Pig day in, day out can affect you mentally. I found I got so anxious talking to people that I’d stutter slightly and fumble over my words. It was like learning to string a sentence together again and I know if I’d gradually come back, it would have been easier.
There will be hard days
I’m one of those people that wants to do it all. I want to be a great mum, a reliable employee and team player, I want to keep up with the cleaning and cook healthy meals. I want to do it all but sometimes there just isn’t enough time. I’ll end the day doing 19/20 things on my to-do list feeling like I’ve not accomplished anything because of that 1 thing I didn’t do. I’d put far too much pressure on myself to be this kind of Super Mum that didn’t struggle and didn’t have hard days. Now, if the washing doesn’t get done, I don’t beat myself up about it. If dinner is something quick and easy, then that’s ok. I’m still adjusting. I’m still doing a great job at home as a mum and at work and I need to stop beating myself up over the hard days.
The Little Moments
You’ll miss your little one so much if you return back 1 day or 5 days, but that just means your time together will be all the more precious. Trips to the park at the weekend, BBQ’s in the garden, playing in the paddling pool. It might be hard if you get home late, but enjoy the time you do have and make every second count. It’s those moments that mean the most.
‘Mum Guilt’ is real
You may find you feel guilty for several reasons. Guilty for enjoying your hour commute because that’s your ‘down-time’ to indulge in some Netflix in peace. Or maybe that you’ve been trying for this baby for a while and now someone else looks after them while you’re working. The grass isn’t always greener. There are mums who stay at home with their little ones and feel guilty for wanting a break, for wishing that nap lasted another 10 minutes so they could finish that thing they we’re doing.
We’re all just doing our best and it’s important not to be too hard on ourselves. It’s hard staying at home, and it’s hard going back to work. Being a mum in general is a hard, but just remember you’re doing your best and that’s more than enough!
Lucie Maniscalchi is a writer, blogger, and entrepreneur who writes about family, travel, beauty, and lifestyle. She currently runs the blog Lucie Loves It and is a mother to the beautiful Amelia Rose.