Even if it’s six months away…
Whatever your plans, working out how you’re going to slot a baby into them is complicated. But if you know that going back to work is a when rather than a if, here are a few ways to stop freaking out about it…
Remember, babies change fast
If your baby won’t take a bottle, or is a crap sleeper, or cries if anyone other than you dares to hold her, it’s hard to imagine a day when you’ll be able to slap on the mascara and leave them in the care of another. But remember, things move fast in baby land – whether you’re going back to work in a few weeks, or a few months, your baby will have changed dramatically by then. Chances are, they will be established on solids, have started sleeping a bit better (or at least you will be more used to it…) and be more mobile, meaning less reliant on you you you. Do a few short test runs of leaving them with a partner or trusted family member now and start gradually tweaking things if you need to.
Arrange a KIT day
If you can’t remember your PC login, let alone how to communicate with actual professionals, now would be a good time to reconnect with your work life. Arrange a coffee with a colleague, an office drop-in with the baby, or even ask if there’s any actual work you can help with in your spare (ha!) time. You’re entitled to 10 paid keeping in touch days while claiming maternity pay, so it can top up your poor salary-deprived bank account too.
Start exploring childcare
Even if you can’t bear the thought of leaving your cling-on with someone else, it’s good to start preparing for the eventuality. Some nurseries have very long waiting lists, while childminders and nannies are generally available at shorter notice – either way, visiting settings and meeting potential carers now will make you feel more prepared.
Have some time to yourself
If you can’t remember life before being mum, doing something that’s just for you might help you reconnect with your old, professional self. A haircut, an eyebrow fiddle, a gym session, going to see a film you keep hearing about…. Basically remember whatever it is that used to make you happy that wasn’t gummy baby smiles, and call on some favours so that you can do it immediately.
Ignore all the noise
If your in laws are saying they just can’t relate to women these days and their fancy pants jobs, or your childless mate is moaning about mums in her office who work part-time, put your fingers in your ears and go “la la la”. Whether you’re planning to go back full-time, part-time or not at all is absolutely none of their business – you need to do what’s right for you and your family.
Talk to your mates
You might think that everyone else is totally chilled about the whole working mum thing, but everyone will be battling with the same issues; talk to your mum mates, especially those with kids a bit older who’ve been there and done it already, and get some tips on the practicalities of going back to work. If you’re freaking out on how you’ll fit a nursery drop-off in and still make your train, or wondering if you can express at work, or trying to pluck up the courage to negotiate flexible hours with your boss, remember millions of mums have gone through the same rollercoaster of emotions, and chances are you know a few of them.
Focus on the positives
When you go back to work, you can wee in peace, enjoy hot drinks, eat grown-up lunches and maybe even venture into the world of make-up and jewellery again without a baby ripping them off your body. Oh, and then there’s the whole earning money and using your brain thing, too. Going back to work is a tricky business, but not without its perks. Good luck, you’ll be fine.