When the countdown was on for me to go back to work after having my first baby I felt a mixture of emotions; scared to leave my precious baby, excited to feel like an adult again outside of mummy world and very excited to be able to finish my cup of coffee again!But it is extremely overwhelming and it is common amongst all new mums.
In hindsight I really lost my ‘work’ confidence after having my baby and taking time off. I felt really nervous about going back to my job again and doubted my ability. Which is crazy, I had been doing well in my job for years! After speaking to numerous mums about returning to work and interviewing senior, competent lawyers in my role, I noticed the same lack of confidence among other professional women.
Times have changed for women in society and mums ‘back in the day’ were seen to be best valued at home with the kids and maintaining the home and the husband etc. Flexible working hours wasn’t a thing, so when women had babies that was the end of their career. RIDICULOUS! We now live in a society where we are encouraged to continue with our careers post baby and are supported to be able to achieve what men can in the corporate world. We CAN do it all! I think we all need to take a step back and be grateful for this change in society and shift in the value women contribute as equals in the workplace and at home.
Here are some tips to making the most of returning to work. It doesn’t have to be a negative experience, and like anything we should try to make the most from this opportunity to continue with our careers.
- You have most likely being living in ‘active wear’ for the past few months and wearing your hair in a top bun, so treat yourself to some new work clothes and go to the hairdresser for a fresh new look. You will feel like a new women and gain some confidence along the way.
- If you are able to, try getting remote access to your work e-mails so you can slowly start getting your mind into thinking about work related matters and the different mindset that requires. If you do this for a month or so before actually going back to work, it won’t feel so overwhelming in those first few days back at the office.
- If your baby is going into child care, get them started at least a couple of weeks before going back to work. This way you can perhaps start them on shorter days and if they are finding it hard to transition you can be available without taking time off work in the first week.
- Use your lunch break as an opportunity to do something for yourself baby free! Don’t just sit at your desk and eat a stale sandwich and stare at the computer screen. Go to the gym, go for a run, sit in the park and read that book you have been dying to read, or catch up with a friend for a coffee. It is so hard to get time for yourself once you are back at work, I found this time really valuable.
- Find a mentor at work that is perhaps in a more senior position than you, that you trust, and that you can talk to about your transition back to work. Speaking to someone within your organization and speaking openly about any challenges is a good way to get things off your chest and get the perspective and support from a colleague, without having to tell the whole office (including your boss) that you feel exhausted, overwhelmed and don’t feel like you’re doing a good job. It is important to get these feelings off your chest, but definitely not everyone’s business. Just remember it is just a moment in time, once you are in a routine and settled back in, you will adjust.
- Try and find time to continue to catch up with your mum’s group or friends with children that you have met since becoming a mummy. This support network is still, if not more, important when you are back at work. Even though you are back working on your career, your mum world is still a great support network as a new mum.
- Don’t judge friends or other mums that have decided to stay at home with their children and not go back to work. You are probably feeling over tired and overwhelmed and catching up with friends who aren’t juggling work commitments as well as family life can sometimes irritate the best of us! But we all have different situations and we all need to respect each other and do what is best for our family only. Just think of all the tantrums that they are dealing with while you are popping out to get a nice hot coffee!
- DON’T FEEL GUILTY! Your beautiful baby is going to grow into a young adult and respect that you worked hard to no doubt provide endless toys and yummy food for them. Having a balanced life can only be a good thing.
At the end of your working week, treat yourself to a nice glass of wine (or whatever your indulgence is) take a big deep breath and congratulate yourself on being AMAZING.