Returning to work after maternity leave

Baby pump photo
My bump

Something that every working mum has to deal with is the guilt of returning to work after having time off to bond with their baby. 

Whether you have taken 1 month off or 2 years off, the guilt remains the same. 

How can I leave my child with someone who isn't me and who I hardly even know?
 
How will I cope going from seeing my beautiful little creation all day every day to seeing them so much less?!
 
How will my baby cope? 
 
How will I deal with that guilt? 
 
How do I make sure I'm still bonding with my baby? 
 
What if I miss those beautiful first steps?!

These are all questions that I have asked myself and that many of my friends have asked me. 

Truth is, everyone is different and what worked for me will be totally different to what worked for someone else! In this article, I'm going to share with you what worked for me as it may help someone else, but remember, you're the leader of your own life and you need to do what works for you!

Returning to work

Family photo
My family when my daughter was 2 weeks old

I was offered a fairly unique opportunity when I returned to work. 

I was originally planning to return after 8 months in the first week back from Christmas closure. However, after 5 months of maternity leave, the person my organisation had hired to fill my position left the organisation to a more permanent position. At the same time, the only other engineer in the team was transferring to another department. 

So, my manager phoned me and asked if I would consider coming back early and that the terms of my return would be up to me. At this point in time I was still receiving government parental leave payments so said that I could return once those payments ran out but that I would only do 4 hours a day working from home until my original planned return date.

This arrangement allowed me to transition back into the work place and have a couple of months at home where I could stumble about remembering how to do my job after months of breast feeding and baby talk.

As I was already working from home, when I started back full time, I was able to transition by working two days at home and two days in the office. This also helped with my separation anxiety (my daughter was fine, it was me that missed her). 

I also opted to condense my full-time hours into four days a week by working 7:30am-5:30pm (an extra 30mins morning and evening) so that I could have three days off with my family every weekend. For me, those 30mins in the morning and afternoon were spent getting ready or cooking tea so it wasn't valuable time. Whereas, my Fridays with my daughter where I get to spend a whole day completely focused on her is so much more valuable.

Choosing a daycare

Girl with doll
My daughter dancing with her baby doll at daycare

I was lucky enough to work in a location that had a daycare literally right next door which meant that I could continue breast feeding when I returned to work in the office because I could walk over during my morning and afternoon tea breaks and lunch breaks. 

This might be a little controversial, but I would 100% pick a daycare for convenience over a daycare with 5 star reviews. I didn't even bother looking at the reviews of my daughters daycare because I knew that I wanted the closest place possible to where I work.

Being close to my workplace means that I could:
  • Continue feeding
  • Go and settle her is she couldn't sleep
  • Spend my lunch breaks having play dates with my daughter and getting to know her educators
  • Be there straight away if she developed a fever or got sick

Just do you

As I said earlier, I can tell you everything that worked for me but ultimately it all comes down to what works for you. 

Don't be afraid to ask for what you want - The worst thing that can happen is they say no

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