Maternity leave can be a godsend! You get to prepare for bub before their arrival and then focus all your energy on caring for and bonding with them in the first few months of their life, with the security of knowing you have a job to go back to. But as this time comes to an end that’s when the panic can set in.
1. Am I ready to go back?
When you go on maternity leave it feels like you have so much time up your sleeve, but there’s nothing like the demands of looking after a new baby and the endless blur of sleepless nights to make that time go faster than a speeding bullet. Suddenly faced with the reality of leaving your baby in the care of someone else while you trundle back off to work, it’s only natural to question whether you are in fact mentally (or even physically) ready to work again. Maybe you need a bit more time?
2. How am I going to do both?
Going back to work will not be the same as before. There will be childcare drop off and pick ups, another little person to get out the door in the morning, feed at night, and get up and down to when they have sleepless nights. You start to worry about what you will do when your toddler falls sick on a work day, how will the groceries and household chores get done with fewer hours at home. Even with the help of a partner, chances are they’re working too, so wrapping your head around how it’s going to work logistically once mat leave is over can be quite stressful.
3. Can I still do the job?
When you’ve had a year of more off from your old job you might begin to doubt your abilities to pick up where you left off. Before you became a mum you were focused and didn’t have someone else depending on you, but now your life has completely changed. If you’re going back part-time you might wonder how this will affect your tasks and working relationships. And what has changed since you left? After all it seems like a lifetime since you were last there.
4. Maybe I want a new career
Having some time out from your job can often make you realise you don’t actually like what you do, where you work or even what industry you’re in. Perhaps you’ve had time to reflect on your real passions (among all the feeding and settling) and have an idea for another career direction, or you just know it’s time for a change. Your priorities have changed and it needs to be worth the time you have to spend away from your baby.
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5. We need the money
Even with paid maternity leave schemes there’s usually a big chunk of time when you’ll have to live off one salary. Babies can be expensive too, and you start thinking about what having your income back will mean for your family.
6. Is it worth it?
Once you start looking at daycare expenses and comparing it to what you’ll be earning (usually on a part-time basis), you will soon see there’s not much left over. Throw in the fact you might have to commute, deal with the emotions of your baby being without you all day, and the backlog of household chores, you might start to wonder if it’s even worth it.
7. Has my career suffered?
Taking time out to have a baby shouldn’t leave a woman trailing behind in her career, but unfortunately it often does. It can mean you miss out on that promotion because you were on leave, or you are overlooked because you now work part-time. In many ways it might feel like you are starting over again.
8. Will people judge me?
There are many people who still believe that a woman’s place is in the home looking after her kids. You might have in-laws or family members or even fellow mums at mother’s group who fall into this line of thinking, and you can start to feel nervous about announcing your return to work.
9. Yippee! A break from monotony
You love being a mum and don’t want to leave your baby, but you start to imagine what it will be like to go for a morning coffee or a toilet break all by yourself. You will have the use of both your hands and can even hold a whole conversation without being distracted. You are actually excited at the prospect to use your brain for something other than how to mum all day.
10. I want my kids to know I’m more than a mum
Sure, you might feel hesitant, nervous and a bit excited about returning to work, but you’re also determined to prove to yourself that you’re not just a mum. You have a career, goals, and want to be the best role model you can be for your child, because being a working parent will not only help you support your family financially, but also yourself mentally.
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