We asked working mamas for their advice on returning to work post-baby

Whether you feel like you fully thrived or barely survived your mat leave, eventually you’re going to have to leave your postpartum bubble and re-emerge into the workforce once more.

Luckily, this sh*tstorm has been weathered by many mums before you, so we asked working mamas for their advice on returning to work after having a baby and have curated the best bits into 5 helpful tips:

1. Only go back when you’re ready

We get it, you’ve spent months glued to your little squishy newborn and as incredibly touched out as you are, the thought of being away from them for 40 hours a week breaks your heart (motherhood is a bit of a mindf*ck!).

Many working mamas were firm in saying that you should only go back when you’re ready, however we know for some mums, your financial situation may determine when you need to return to work. If that’s you, and you reeeally don’t feel ready, try and start with a few half days before you’re due to return to work and gradually build up your hours over a period of time. This might soften the blow a bit, although we can’t promise there won’t still be tears all around at daycare drop off.

Mums said:

Don’t feel pressured to go back before you’re ready or you’ll just be miserable. – Stacey

Start with a few days a week so that you have time to adjust to being away from your baby, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. It’s a bit of a shock to the system! – Leslie

2. Be organised within an inch of your life

Plan your morning routine in advance and give yourself extra time so you don’t end up stressed trying to get out the door on time. Being prepared and having a routine will not only make the morning run more smoothly, but while your bub may be a little human hurricane, they will find comfort in a predictable routine. 

Mums said:

Don’t just leave it to the day – it takes so much stress out of the week if you’re organised. Meal prep in advance, have clothes laid out for the next day and daycare bag packed by the door. Organisation is key – coming from a mama of twins! – Tammy

Planning things like the dinners for the week in advance really helps, and having back up meals in the freezer. – Liv

3. Find good care that you feel confident leaving your baby with

Sending your baby to daycare while you work? Take the time to find the right child care service for your family and let them ease in gradually a few weeks before you’re due to return to work (and get some bonus baby free hours!). That way when the day arrives for you to return to work, they’ll already have started to get familiar with the educators and (fingers crossed) you’ll have an easier time at drop off.

We’ll just leave this article here: How to set your kid up for success at daycare

Mums said:

Finding a good daycare where you can be confident your baby is being loved and cared for is everything. The last thing you need is to be at work all day anxious about how your baby is going. – Rochelle

I actually love sending my son to daycare, they do so many sensory activities and he’s learning so many things. I feel like it’s been so great for him developmentally. – Jade

4. Plan epic adventures for your days off

The truth is, work-life balance doesn’t really exist. At times you will need to put your kids first, and at other times you’ll need to put work first (hopefully at times you’ll be able to put yourself first too!).

Spending days away from your little love may leave you feeling like you’re missing out. Planning fun activities and spending quality time with your kids on the days that you have with them will help you feel more balanced and will give both you and your mini something special to look forward to.

Mums said:

Always have a holiday booked so you have something to look forward to. –  Carmen

It’s hard being away from my kids during the week so I always make sure we make the most of our weekends and plan fun activities to do together. – Kira

5. Reset some expectations

Your life has changed in a BIG way since you were last in the workforce and it might not be possible for you to contribute at the level you did previously. You might need your boss to agree to more flexible hours, or you might not be able to do overtime on the weekends anymore. You might need to be able to work from home if when your baby is sick (daycare is very, very germy). Determine your needs before you return to work and have an honest conversation with your boss about each of your expectations. 

Mums said:

If you can, catch up with your boss before you start back and get up to date on any changes to the office or your role so that you’re not caught off guard when you show up on your first day back. – Jennifer

Make sure your boss knows if you need to leave at a certain time each day and check to see whether they can be flexible with work from home days. Set expectations now so you can avoid it becoming an issue later. – Brianna

6. Bonus tip from Mumli: don’t feel guilty, you’re allowed to want this

Returning to work isn’t just about providing for your family, it’s an opportunity for you to exist outside of your role as Mum. Enjoy the uninterrupted commute, the hot coffee and the adult conversation, and do it guilt-free

Do you have any tips to share on returning to work after mat leave? Share your wisdom in the comments.

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