Returning to work after taking maternity leave is a mixture of emotions for many women. Knowing how to prepare for it is key, so is knowing that you’re not alone, regardless of how you feel. The day is marked on your calendar, and creeping closer. Whether you feel dread or a tinge of excitement, you’re not the first mum to return to work feeling that way! Once you’ve arranged your daycare situation, begin preparing your breast pump to be your new full-time friend.
We got 3 mums to share their experience.
Phumzile Somide, mum to Ife and Busi
Well, I had two experiences with my two kids. With my first child, there was stability in all aspects of my life, so it was fairly easy to adjust when I resumed work. I had a reliable nanny and my husband being a hands-on dad worked to my advantage and the whole family’s. My husband and I both worked nights together, so I was rested for my day at work.
With my younger child, I had lost my nanny, so, the focus shifted from resting whenever possible to giving both kids attention without focusing on one more than the other. Both kids also had to go to crèche instead of just the older child. Then, two months after going back to work, I had to move offices, that meant I got to leave the house while the kids were still asleep and came back late. Our family time was compromised and I had to wean earlier than I would have loved to because regular breastfeeding sessions had to be cancelled except overnight.
My only comfort was in knowing that my husband was very good with the kids and the girls also had each other for playmates, both at crèche and home. This helped them get close and depend on each other to a certain degree.
Overall, all worked out for the best. My husband has continued being hands-on, the kids are the best of buddies and with God’s help, it gets easier to juggle motherhood and a career in the corporate world.
Ife Adeleke, mum to Diwura and Judah
When it was time for me to return to work, I realized that I hadn’t given myself enough time to readjust after pregnancy.
I had feelings of regret about returning to work after having my baby and was frightened that I would miss her developmental milestones. Frankly, I missed that first roll-over and crawl. Still, the thrill I got when I saw my child do it for the first time with me was exciting.
With my second baby I remembered to think positively and lightly about it! I think it really is about the quality of time you spend with your children and not the quantity.
I got through each day at work by finding comfort in the fact that I am not alone! I talked to my co-workers, my friends and family members who are also working mums. It helps to have someone to relate to who can empathize with you.
Keamo Makhubele, mum to Lulama
During the last two weeks of my leave (I’d hired a nanny two weeks before that), my husband and I did routine practice of what our mornings would be like getting ready for work. Who got up with the baby? What was the showering schedule? Who was on baby-sitting duty, and when? What things needed to be in order before we left for the day? We came up with a routine which we tried out and tweaked what wasn’t working without the stress of worrying that mummy would be late on her first week of resuming work. By the time I returned to work for real, we were old pros!
Of course, there were still hiccups occasionally. The first week was the toughest but overtime, my baby and I adjusted to my work schedule. All the stress and anxiety dissipated and I developed an almost flawless routine. So, all mums returning to work should keep in mind that it will only get easier as time goes on.
I did some pre-work pampering. I lived in a track suit and barely styled my hair during my maternity leave, I needed to treat myself to some pampering before making my debut as a working mum. I knew I would be surrounded on my first day with welcomes and questions from co-workers, and would feel more confident about returning to work if I looked and felt great. I had a haircut, a mani and pedi, and a new outfit for my first day. It was like a coming out party; I went all out and had fun!