Returning to work; what to expect and tips to help you juggle baby and work

Babies have a lot to give, you’ve got to hand it to them. Love, cuddles and (potentially) 52 weeks’ maternity leave are all pretty favourable qualities. As you’re enjoying those blissful months at home with your newborn, your days of maternity leave trickle down from weeks to days and then —  out of nowhere — you’re faced with the reality of the 7 am alarm, a race to get out of the door, down to the childminder and be sat at your desk by 9 am. Yes, going back to work may be a shock but you’ll get used to it. As that date looms in your diary, here are a few things that’ll ease your transition from stay-at-home mum to working parent extraordinaire.

Weigh up your options

You’ve had plenty of time off and work feels like a distant memory, so distant in fact that you haven’t even thought about what’ll happen when you go back. Who cares, right? Well, nobody, except your bank balance. You’re well within your rights to go back to your old role, same hours, same job spec, same coffee mug etc. You can also find out how flexible your employer can be. Is working from home an option? Could you go part-time? (And can you afford to?) Could you work fewer but longer days? Decisions, decisions.

The breastfeeding schedule

As if your life doesn’t already revolve around baby feeding times, the schedule will become more of a challenge when you’re in the office. Obviously, this depends on when you go back to work and how long you choose to breastfeed for. If you can find a childminder close to your work with the option of popping over at lunchtime, you’re laughing. Consider partial breastfeeding where you express throughout the day, so baby has enough to drink when you’re away.

Choosing childcare

Some of us are blessed with parents and siblings who’d jump at the chance to look after your little cherub. In reality, these people love a 10-minute cuddle or watching them while you go to the shop but you need to know who’s prepared for the full-day creche sesh. It’s often a case of finding a professional sitter. Make sure your baby is familiar with their carer to minimise any hiccups on your big first day back.

Discuss your career path

Where’s this going? Your role at work might be the same but that isn’t to say the business hasn’t moved forward. What’s expected of you? Think long-term and short-term goals — this is what will get you back into the work headspace.

Is this working out?

You’re missing baby. Yep, we know. But it’s only been a few days and you’d have to go back to work at some point. Stick at it, we said the first few weeks would be hard but you can do it. After a few months, reassess. Are things going the way you wanted? Is baby comfortable in their new routine? Are you happy?