Going back to work after having a baby can bring on lots of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, parents might be happy they are going back to work, but on the other hand, they might feel guilty about leaving their baby.
Listen to Gemma Cribb on Feed Play Love:
The good and the bad
The bad news is that guilt is an inevitable part of parenting; the good news, however, is that there are some things you can do to manage your emotions when returning to work.
“One of the most emotional parts of our life is trying to care for a dependent child,” says Gemma Cribb, a psychologist with Equilibrium Psychology.
“The bond that you make with your baby is so strong, and often mums are there kind of 24/7 for their babies in those early months. So to go from that, to leaving your baby and going back to work is hard, even though you might have positive feelings for work.”
“We’re never going to get it perfect”
Although parents often feel they are being pulled in a million different directions, Gemma says to remember that nobody is perfect.
“We’re never going to get it [parenting] perfect. On top of that, we have a husband or partner to care for and try to meet their emotional needs. As well as that, we might have extended family and a household to run, and so life is really busy,” she says.
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“We live such busy lives that guilt is inevitable because we’ll never get everything done; we’re never going to live up to our standards.”
While that can be a bit overwhelming for some parents to hear, Gemma has some great advice for managing the range of emotions that come with returning to work after a baby.
5 tips for coping with your emotions when going back to work
1. Be realistic
Have realistic expectations of yourself and what you can handle. “So acknowledging that both roles are important to you as a person and placing yourself on the agenda. And in that way, it’s not just about your baby, it’s not just about your boss or your workplace. It’s also about you and meeting your needs.”
2. Set work-life boundaries
“One of the most common problems I see is if people who have jobs where it’s very difficult to say no and to leave on time and that sort of thing. So if you can get into a habit of doing the hours that you need to do and then coming home, that can be a huge help.”
3. Outsource something, anything!
“Offload some of the tasks that aren’t essential for you to do. Whether that be getting a cleaner or having a family member come and babysit for you while you have some time with your husband.”
4. Prioritise your time
“Looking at what your priorities are and look for ways to open up time regularly; to give time to those priorities without just stepping in and saying, “I’ll just do this, and I’ll just do that, and I’ll just do the other.”
5. NO, thank you
“Get really good at saying ‘no’, because you know you’re never going to be able to do everything for everybody.”