Returning to work after maternity leave is such a daunting thought, especially when it’s your first baby. I remember the emotions I felt as if it were yesterday, even though it’s been over two years since I returned to work after my first baby. I felt a mixture of apprehension, guilt and a tiny bit of excitement at what was to come.
Overwhelmingly though, I felt dread. I had no idea how I was going to function as a normal working member of society after twelve months off work with my baby, mainly sat at home, feeding, burping and watching him sleep. I felt like the baby brain I’d been experiencing for the past year and a half would never disappear, and I’d make myself look foolish or worse, incompetent, when I returned to my role as branch manager of a busy Post Office.
Despite all my fears, the return to work for me was smooth, enjoyable even. I fell back in love with my job and when it came time to take another twelve months off last year, I was actually a bit sad about it. It doesn’t matter what I say though, as a first time Mum who has to return to work after maternity leave, you will feel like you don’t want to, or fear you’ve forgotten how to do the simplest of task, but here are a few things you genuinely have to look forward to, once you’re back in the swing of things.
A Leisurely Lunch Break (and as many hot drinks as your heart desires!)
In my profession, it’s not unusual to get interrupted during your lunch break for one reason or another, but even just getting twenty minutes solid of downtime with a hot drink and a sandwich I could eat leisurely, instead of stuffing it down inbetween baby’s short-lived naps, was heaven on earth. Now I have two children who constantly need me, even a ten-minute break, without someone shouting me to wipe their bum or feed them will be a godsend!
One of the most satisfying things about returning to work is having adult conversations that are not interrupted every five minutes by baby crying or a toddler needing to know why the moon is shaped like a crescent. You can chat about all sorts of things that babies and toddlers simply don’t care for…Love Island, idle local gossip or even just the weather. If it’s a baby you’re leaving at home, you’ll be glad to get some response to your idle chit chat, if it’s a toddler you’re leaving behind, you’ll be glad of conversations that don’t end up with continuous, ‘but, why?’s.
A Stimulated Brain
When you first return to work after an extended period of time off, your brain can still feel a bit mushy, after all you’ve just spent the last twelve months changing nappies, singing nursery rhymes and watching endless amounts of CBeebies. However, after a few days, the old noggin reignites and it’s amazing to finally get back to using it to challenge yourself in your job role. On my first day, I had to jump on the tills and start serving the growing queue and although my fingers trembled with fear, once I’d logged myself on, it was as if I had never been away. An elephant never forgets you know!
A Renewed Identity
When you’re on maternity leave, you are simply Mama, Mum, Mummy- a housewife and an entity who simply lives to deliver love, food and water to their offspring. Returning to work renews your identity as you. I suddenly remembered I am Nicola, not just a Mummy, but a young professional woman who is amazing at her job and who has so much to offer to her workplace. I thrived on regaining this identity. At home, I was still Mummy, but here I was back to being me, and as the weeks and months wore on, that identity grew and grew, until I felt completely changed inside and out.
We all know SMP isn’t the greatest amount of money in the world, it certainly helps us to survive, but there’s very little cash for treats and holidays. Returning to work will obviously deprive you of that precious time with your babies, but with it comes the bonus of more money so that when you do get to your days off, you have plenty of funds to do whatever your heart desires with your little cherubs. Of course, with your renewed identity, you may want to spend some of that extra cash on you, getting your hair done or treating yourself to some new work clothes.
Returning to work after maternity leave may feel like it’s the end of the world, but honestly, it’s never quite as bad as your brain will have you believe it will be. Along with all the reasons listed above, it’s nice to leave your children in the capable hands of your childcare who will help them learn and develop and watching them create friendships and do stuff you’d never have the patience to try (crafts!) is incredible. Being a working Mum is a tough gig and it will take a bit of time to find your own routine, but with a bit of organisation, a positive mindset and the support of those around, you’ll get there and it’ll be well worth the tears shed over your fear of returning to work. Best of luck!
Nicola is a full time working Mummy to two boys, Dexter and Felix. She lives in West Lancashire with her husband and when she’s not blogging, enjoys travel, days out with the boys, binge-watching Netflix and the occasional glass of wine. You can find her blog at https://mummytodex.com
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