New mums, pre back-to-work fear is normal. One of my best friends has an almost one year old, and the return to work is looming. Her career pre-baby was stellar, she’s a very successful media professional who loves(ed) her job and was on an upward career trajectory. A very exciting, but nerve wracking time for her was preparing the leave her career to be a mum with the age old fear of where that would leave her after maternity leave.
Now, her time being solely Mama is almost up and the return to work is looming. Talking to her reminded me of how terrified I was to leave my son four years ago when it was my turn. It’s a funny thing, for the not naturally “maternal” types when you suddenly realise just how maternal you are. It’s wonderful, yet disconcerting, let’s say. I had a heavy sense of dread for weeks prior to my return. The thought of leaving Baby Thor, even for three or four days a week was almost unbearable. The toll that takes on our stress levels ad ultimately our mental health is significant. I cried more tears by myself in my car after drop off that first week than I have accumulated in my entire life.
So we all know it’s going to be hard, but for you new mums you will find nothing quite prepares you for this feeling you’re about to have. What you need to remember to keep you on track and hopefully keep the wailing alone in carparks to a minimum are a few reality checks…
- This is a normal feeling and also a normal occurrence. While it may feel like it, you are not the first person to go back to work after having children. Whatever your reason for returning to work, you are doing it for the benefit of that very child you are sad about leaving. Give yourself a break.
- They will be fine! You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to find a great day care (I guarantee you have) and now you need to trust that all that hard work you put in to find just the right place, was for this moment. Give yourself a break.
- You will be fine! Funnily enough and talking from experience, it will take you a lot longer to adjust to the new regime than it will your little one. They get cuddles, care and fun play, all day. You get guilt and work as well as rushing around trying to get everything done on either side of the day. Give yourself a BREAK!
There are some interesting articles about the benefits of daycare if you need some more convincing. You can check one out here that talks to the benefits of a regular schedule of reading time, song time, eating, napping and playing. As well as academic advancement, time with peers, interaction with other adults and smoother transition to kindergarten. Keep reminding yourself of these things.
One thing I try to tell myself often (with varying degrees of success), is that there are no perfect scenarios. No perfect parents. This is a fantasy we could never hope to live up to. We just do the best we can, and for our children who are loved, this is everything.
It won’t be easy, but in a few months your routine will feel somewhat normal. There are different hurdles now, but none insurmountable. You are capable of things you never knew.