Maternity Leave Return.
Surviving the First Week of Work.
I remembered how I felt when I had to return to work after a full and fun year with my son. I had feelings of guilt and sadness as I kissed and hugged him goodbye to spend the day with grandma and grandpa, before running to the bus stop for my first day of work after maternity leave. While I was on the bus, I looked at my watch and thought about what he was doing at that very moment and what his day would be like without me there. When I got to work I called home to ask how he was doing, and grandma said he is playing and having fun with grandpa. They are going to have lunch soon and then heading out to the playground afterwards. I remember asking if he cried when I left and grandma said no.
I realized at that very moment that my son was going to be fine today and all of the other days when I had to go to work.
Feelings of guilt and sadness are very common for mothers who return to work after maternity leave and these feelings are perfectly normal. Be assured that the little human being that seemed so helpless on the first day that they came into this world has grown up into a little human being that is capable of being independent from mummy.
A few tips that I’ve shared with other mothers on how to cope on the first of week of work without having your child with you every waking moment:
1. Talk to your baby, they understand. It may seem that at first when you are talking to your child, they may not understand what you are saying but they can understand facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Two weeks before I had to return to work, I “talked” to my son about how it would be different three weeks from now. I explained to him that he would be spending time with grandparents instead of me and I told him that I would always come back from work to play with him. I felt that even though at times, my son looked at me with a blank look, that he understood what I was talking about.
2. Start the first few weeks on a part-time basis. If it is possible, talk to your manager to see if it is possible to start returning to work on part time basis. Starting the first few weeks by working 3-days a week will help ease into full time work again. Alternatively, you can also ask your manager if you could use some of your accumulated holidays in the first few returning weeks.
3. Call to talk to your child. Call your child at lunch time or right after their nap to see how they are doing. This is more for the mother to feel at ease with leaving her child in somebody else’s care. Usually after a brief phone call, returning to work for the next few hours is a lot easier.
4. Don’t panic and enjoy the time to yourself. Guilt is one of the most common feelings that mothers feel when returning to work after a year long maternity leave. However, not being with your child all the time allows them to develop some independence from you. They learn how to trust and rely on someone else. If your child is in a daycare, this allows them to develop social and interactive skills with other children and adults. Most of all, this is the time that mothers can have some “adult” time to themselves. You’d be able to have adult conversations and interactions that are also good for easing the feelings of guilt.
If you need more tips on how to cope with work after maternity leave, call or email Information Children Society.