Monday, 14 March 2016

MATERNITY LEAVE: Preparing to go back to work


So, this is the time that I have been dreading for months, but am now feeling surprisingly positive about it all...returning to work. After a full year off I will be returning to work, which I can hardly believe. Where has the last year gone? I can remember my labour and giving birth to Isabella as if it was yesterday, but the rest is just a blur of love, lack of sleep and incredibly special moments. I have been lucky enough to negotiate going back to work part time, so I'll be working three days a week and being a stay at home Mummy the other four days. This was my dream, to be a Mummy more days than I was working and I couldn't feel luckier. I think this has been a big part of feeling slightly more positive about returning to work, my change of contract was organised relatively recently and it's been such a weight off my shoulders. I can finely sleep much better at night!

Over the past month or so I've been preparing for my return to work - time will be limited, routines will need adjusting and roles will have to adapt. I'll no longer be the one on maternity leave, which I'm hoping will mean there'll be less expectation for me to do most of the jobs around the house. Don't get me wrong my husband doesn't leave it all to me, I think I've put the pressure on myself to do most of the housework because otherwise I felt guilty for being at home all day. In reality anyone who has been on maternity/paternity leave will know that it's not an easy job caring for a baby and that role shouldn't be underestimated. Parenting is hard work. 

I thought I'd share some of the ways I've been preparing to return to work, with the hope that if you're about to return or are currently on maternity/paternity leave these will help. 
  • Bulk cooking meals for the three of us and freezing them in portions.
  • Adding the food/drink we always have on our shopping list to the 'My Favourites' tab on our online food shopping account.
  • Clearing out Isabella's wardrobe, sorting out clothes that are too small and ensuring there are only clothes in her wardrobe that she'll actually wear. My husband will be dressing Isabella on the days I go to work and it gives me peace of mind to know he can choose from a smaller range of clothes now! 
  • Buying clothes/equipment ready for nursery. Isabella sleeps in a sleeping bag, so we needed another one of those to leave at nursery. I've also stocked up on socks, clothes I don't mind getting ruined, coat, comforter etc. 
  • Changing Isabella's meal times to fit in with the nursery's timings. She now has her three meals at the same(ish) time as she will do at nursery, to get her used to that aspect of the day.
  • Reducing breastfeeding/bottle feeding. As I've been breastfeeding for the past year I needed to reduce it ready for returning to work. Personally, I don't feel ready to completely stop but I've limited it to once or twice during the day and once during the night. This will be manageable when I return and it means I now don't get uncomfortably 'full' during the day anymore. Due to weaning Isabella now drinks less milk during the day anyway and I've been slowly reducing her lunchtime bottle by 30ml every couple of days. I intend to introduce a sippy cup for her milk, instead of a bottle, around her first birthday. 
  • Putting a comforter for nursery in Isabella's cot. I wanted her to have something that smelt like home, her familiar place, while she's at nursery. By putting a cuddly comforter into her cot for a couple of week it not only became familiar but also picked up the 'smell' of her and her bedroom. I'm hoping this provides her with familiar comfort when she's settling into nursery. 
  • Contacting work to organise return. I haven't taken many KIT days at all during my maternity leave, so it's been important for me to get in contact with work and find out about any significant changes that have happened. This may sound strange, but I've found it really helpful to replay days at work in my head. It's been such a long time that I'm genuinely scared I won't remember what to do, so replaying days has been helping me reassure myself that I did it once and I can do it again!

What are your top tips for returning to work?

Feel free to leave a comment :)

Helen x
You Baby Me Mummy
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11 comments

  1. Helpful post! I am dreading returning to work to & every day I wish I didn't have too! But then I think of all the mums that I know that did it and if they can do it then I can do it too. Good luck & I'm looking forward to reading about it :)

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    1. It's such a big change, but honestly it's been MUCH easier than I thought it was going to be. You may have read on here how much I have dreaded it, had sleepless nights, cried and just generally felt down about it all. However, Isabella has been fine without me (slightly heartbreaking but good in reality) and the days go SO quickly that you're back home before you know it :)

      Helen x

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  2. Good luck with your return! I have just under six weeks left and met with work last week and started to feel more positive about the return too.
    I'm weaning my lo and she is also on 3 Meals a day but I still feed her mid morning and mid afternoon. (As well as early morning and night Eeek) I think that might be me feeling apprehensive about stopping it tho as I worry she isn't eating enough! Any advice or maybe a post on it would be helpful! I'm off to breastfeeding clinic tomorrow for some guidance. Thanks :)

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    1. Aww maternity leave goes crazily quickly doesn't it?! I still plan to breastfeed Isabella first thing in the morning, when I get home from work and once during the night, which has worked really well so far. It does mean I have to get up that bit earlier in the morning (but we're parents and used to little sleep!) I don't want to stop breastfeeding quite yet and I'm hoping it will kind of come to an end at some point :)

      Helen x

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  3. Good luck. This will be me in a couple of months. I've done it once before with my daughter, who's now 5 - I had a year off after having her and I was petrified of going back. But the anticipation was worse than the actual event in the end. This time I'll have had 10 months off with my son, in some ways I feel better as I know what to expect, but in others worse, I think because he is probably my last baby and I'm desperate to hang on to this time, going back to work is the start of a new era. This time I've got to be so organised because of school pick up etc but like you I'm doing 3 days, I've always felt ok as long as I'm home with my babies for a bigger part of the week. There's some great tips in your post, I must try and freeze some meals over the coming weeks :) x #brillblogposts

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    1. It is so scary going back to work - I really hope your return goes smoothly :) Like you, I really wanted to spend more time at home than at work and I feel incredibly lucky that I can!

      Helen x

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  4. Good luck on your return. Sounds like you are really organised which is fantastic also great work on being able to go part-time! Sounds like you are going to have a really good balance :-)

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  5. #thelist whoops forgot to add that!

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  6. It sounds like you have been really organised, especially freezing some meals ready, I wish I had done that!! The one thing I did when I went back to work that I was pleased with was make myself a little photo book, it meant for those first few days when people wanted to see pics and chat to me, but I was a bit emotional, I had baby pics I could just throw at them and not really have to talk!! It was also nice for me to have them. #TheList

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    1. Oo that's a lovely idea! Thank you for sharing :)

      Helen x

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  7. Some great tips, I remember doing the same when I went back to work after my first! I really hope it goes well, and Isabella enjoys nursery! xx

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