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Share your top tips for making going back to work post baby easier for you & your family - you could win £200 of vouchers or a hamper of P&G products! NOW CLOSED

(151 Posts)

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AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 13-Sep-13 09:36:03

Going back to work after having a baby can be daunting. Recent research by P&G to celebrate the Everyday Effect bears this out, finding that for 6 in 10 mums it took more than three months to get their confidence back in the work place.

They have asked us to find out from you what you think about this:

Is/was this the case for you? What would have helped you feel more relaxed about going back to work? What things did your colleagues/partner do to help with the transition? What are your top tips for mums returning to work after having a baby?

P&G (the company behind brands such as Pampers, Fairy, Flash, Ariel, Lenor, Pantene, Max Factor and Olay) believe that life is lived in the everyday. Seemingly ordinary actions, from wearing a clean shirt to brushing our teeth can have a surprisingly significant impact on ourselves and also the people around us. That's what they call The Everyday Effect.

Add your comments or top tip for supporting parents going back to work to this thread and you will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £200 John Lewis voucher and 10 MNers will a P&G hamper of goodies.

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

Please note your comments may be used (anonymously of course) by P&G in PR and marketing materials, their website and possibly elsewhere so please only comment of you're happy with this.

Watching with interest as I will be going back to work in a few months

Willemdefoeismine Fri 13-Sep-13 09:46:09

I think I had an atypical going back to work scenario with my first
DC as I was effectively being marginalised out of a job. With the benefit of hindsight they should have just given me a big redundancy pay-off and all would have been fine! I ended up in a scenario where my two immediate work colleagues had gone elsewhere in my absence, my place of work had moved to another city and I was left just 'killing time' for about 8 weeks, hot desking in an office full of 'unknowns'. As you can imagine, having been off work for 10 months that was a demoralising experience for me. I was missing my DS and trying to adjust to working/commuting/running a home with a baby, only to get to work to discover that I was effectively 'at sea' there too!

So I cannot really say how things could have been done differently but it wasn't a usual situation. My top tip though would be not feel pressured into going back before you and your family feel ready to 'take on board' the extra physical and emotional impact of working with family commitments. And if at all possible, ease back in gradually even if you are intending to go back full-time.

dahville Fri 13-Sep-13 10:34:23

Use the 10 keeping in touch days with your work if you can; it can help ease you back into work. In the same way your child will have settling in days if s/he goes to nursery, you can try that approach for work.

On my first day back my husband was on a business trip and I had client meetings which meant early drop off and late pick up at day care; it was not ideal. In retrospect I should have delayed my start by one week.

When I go back this time I will make sure that my first day is a shorter one not longer.

CheeryCherry Fri 13-Sep-13 10:41:37

Throughout your time off, keep in touch with one or two colleagues, so that if you have any fears about your return to work, you can have some friends to look out for you.
Don't be too hard on yourself in the first few weeks of juggling. Prepare and plan your meals, keep other commitments minimal while you settle in.

RubySparks Fri 13-Sep-13 10:45:12

After my second child I went back to work using holidays to have shorter weeks/days to start with although I was only working 3 days a week anyway.

We had trial days at nursery prior to this and a little later I changed my working hours to work 4 short days so I could collect eldest from school and youngest from nursery. So really it may not be about what you can do but how flexible your employer is, I went with the 'if you don't ask you don't get' idea!

It also helped that at that point I didn't need to work full time, I think it must be very very hard where both parents have to work full time. Then it is helpful to be very organised, do lunches night before, washing machine loaded/unloaded every evening, shop and cook on weekend and don't look too closely at housework.

CMOTDibbler Fri 13-Sep-13 11:00:08

I had a relatively short maternity leave, so it didn't take too long to settle back in. This also helped as dh and I hadn't settled into a pattern where I did everything.

My top tip is that when you both work and have a baby, you need to talk to each other. Lots. No competitive tiredness, no sniping, no 'they should just know to do x', be honest, but also appreciate the other. We played a lot of tag team in the early days - someone picked ds up from nursery, the other got tea on; I'd be feeding ds, dh put the nappy wash on; I did bedtime, dh would sterilise the pump and so on.

And keep things simple. Don't get het up about housework, socialising, family expectations etc for months. The two of you concentrate on making things work for the three (or more!) of you first, then let other things in as you both agree them.

And internet shopping is amazing. Amazon Prime, John Lewis flowers and Moonpig get us out of many holes.

turkeyboots Fri 13-Sep-13 12:16:07

Childcare you feel happy with and which is reliable is vital. Help with domestic stuff made life easier for me. So a cleaner and sending the ironing out is wonderful but expesnsive.

I can work from home which helps too. Can get through Landry mountain without having to stay up late waiting for machine to finish!

Planning is vital. We coordinate diaries once a week and talk through arrangments and issues for the week. We both travel a far bit for work, so never agree to anything before clearing it with each other. Once we handed over the DC in the,airport, but we make it work... Just.

givemeaboost Fri 13-Sep-13 13:38:13

Is/was this the case for you? luckily no as I had done more training etc whilst off work so confidence levels were still high when I went back.

What would have helped you feel more relaxed about going back to work? knowing how it would change our financial eligibility- tax credits etc and more help with the costs of childcare as we were both on very low incomes.

What things did your colleagues/partner do to help with the transition?
Not a great deal, exdp had no choice but to help out with childcare but work sent me on refresher training courses which helped stay current within my field.

What are your top tips for mums returning to work after having a baby? Have a really good support network around you, make sure you know of any local contacts you might need before you start eg after school clubs, holiday play schemes and names of local childminders.

nightcircus Fri 13-Sep-13 14:05:24

Best advice work wise from line manager - take it one day at a time. It's easy to think roofer ahead and get stressed.

Also get a new notepad and write EVERYTHING down. There will likely have bed lots if changes at work even if you've only been out a few months. It's also easy to forget things if you're still up in the night....

Enquire about flexible working- I now finish at 3 as have dropped 4 hours a week.

nightcircus Fri 13-Sep-13 14:07:05

Roofer = too far

Happiestinwellybobs Fri 13-Sep-13 14:27:46

I agree that it took some weeks to get back to the state where I felt I knew what was going on, but even 9 months later, there are people who I don't know, and that is not like me at all.

Helping me feel more relaxed:

- using my Keep in Touch days whilst I was on leave.
- knowing I had a good nursery where DD would be happy.

Things my partner did:

- sent me a big bunch of flowers on my first day smile
- helps in the morning. As he leaves earlier, he does breakfast, while I have a shower, then i get DD dressed.

Top tips:

- have a routine. Clothes are laid out the night before. DD's bag is packed and at the door ready for nursery. Sandwiches are made the night before.
- get housework into an organised rota. We both know what needs doing and when - pretty much.
- have an emergency standby for childcare if possible. My parents will have DD if she cannot go to nursery.

Spirael Fri 13-Sep-13 14:27:54

What would have helped you feel more relaxed about going back to work?
I did the 10 KIT days last time around, sporadically from eight weeks after the birth. DH took holiday and had lovely bonding time with DD for those days. I found this helped enormously with keeping me up to date with what was happening at work and giving me a day or two each month to clear all the emails in my inbox so it wasn't too bad on my first day back.
However I'm not sure whether I'll be able to do the same if there's a next time, as conflict with salary sacrifice childcare vouchers being maintained throughout maternity leave might mean I (sort of) don't get paid!

What things did your colleagues/partner do to help with the transition?
With DH, we've always split the chores equally and just continued to do so with the new jobs that come with having a child. One thing we both did which has helped for logistics is set up a shared calendar on our phones and use an app to track one another, so we can tell at a glance whether DD has been picked up successfully from nursery on time!
My boss at the time was understanding and approachable, which helped ease the transition. My colleagues were same as always, which was comforting in a way!

What are your top tips for mums returning to work after having a baby?
Start using online grocery shopping. Otherwise you either end up doing a solo late night shop while shattered after working, or you fight through the crowds at the weekend either by yourself or while trying to keep a child entertained and out of trouble.
Also, become an expert at logistics. Meals are always planned, Saturday starts with a list of jobs that need doing at the weekend and chores are chipped away at over the week. Keep the numbers for nursery, the doctors, the dentist, etc, all on your phone so that you can field with ease out the inevitable calls from nursery that you need to get your child early.

iwantavuvezela Fri 13-Sep-13 14:41:06

Is/was this the case for you? What would have helped you feel more relaxed about going back to work?

I would have told my self not to worry. I was away from work for almost a year, and by the end of the first week it all started coming back to me. Although i felt nervous about remembering things; it was really not a problem! I actually enjoyed the coffee breaks with other adults, and really relished some of the time when I first went back!

What things did your colleagues/partner do to help with the transition?
Just asking after my dd was lovely, saying that i had been missed, and then just getting back into the swing of things.

What are your top tips for mums returning to work after having a baby?
To be organised! Get up early enough so that you can get yourself and baby/child dressed, fed etc. Have an idea of what you need to do when you get back from work (this was and still is the most "stressful" time for me - getting dinner organised; sorting things out, made much worse if I have to wing dinner rather than having something defrosting, and knowing what I will be making. I often kept my DD her food when she was a baby for ours the night before. Made it easier that her meal was made and just had to be heated.

missorinoco Fri 13-Sep-13 15:00:46

I found it very hard going back to work, more so after my second child.

Things that made it better - empathetic colleagues, who didn't necessarily do or say anything specific, but were kind and friendly, and happy to see me after 8 months.

Misogynous colleagues made it worse, and I wouldn't have predicted who they would be.

My tip would be to find a friend/mentor who has been there, and have a casual chat from time to time. The fact someone else knows where you are coming from makes a huge difference.

Also keep in touch with friends who are also back at work. Even if you can't meet up a quick update reminds you you're not alone.

Be organised as said above. Meal plan, have things ready the night before. One small baby is disproportionate to the amount of work created. If possible, keep tea or coffee at work, and you will guarantee yourself a hot drink at some point in the morning.

Yes it took me ages to get used to being back, re-learning computer systems and passwords etc. I missed my boy so much but it does get better. My husband is fab and was always good at sharing household tasks so this helped.

It would have more if work had given me a more gentle comeback but it was like 'great your back, you know how things work, off you go' and I felt very out of my depth for a while.

Tips for going back umm not a tip as such but just to say it is ok to miss your baby and be relieved to have some more adult company all at the same time grin

ninaprettyballerina Fri 13-Sep-13 15:42:21

I've done it twice now and gone back to the same role ea h time (been in the same job for 14 yrs now). I took 14 months off both times and found it hard, nerve wracking, stressful and not enjoyable both times. I worried mainly about the DCs but also about forgetting my skills, knowledge, being out of the loop, confidence, self esteem, appearance and generally "being boring"!!
I'd say (if and where possible):
Leave DCs in their new child care setting in advance of your return to work
Have a chat with line manger so you know what's changed/who's who/recap of duties before your first day. Meet for coffee perhaps for an informal chat
Treat yourself to new make up/clothes/hand bag
Plan a morning routine
Don't expect things to be the same. If you're returning to an existing role but with reduced hours then you can feel pressure to carry out the same amount of work. You can't and no-one should make you feel like you should.
Call the child care setting as often as you like. They won't mind
Enjoy your free time with DCs as you'll appreciate it even more

MrsKwazii Fri 13-Sep-13 16:10:56

I've had two year-long maternity leaves and returned to the same employer. HR made things easier for me by sending regular updates of the staff newsletter, round-ups of messages from the top team to all staff and inviting me to any big 'town hall' meetings on big issues. My manager made things easier by offering KIT days on my terms that fitted in with childcare and never putting me under pressure if I couldn't make things stack up. They are also very good at knowing that I must leave by a set time to pick up from childcare.

From a personal point of view, I batch cooked before going back so that we had a few weeks of frozen dinners ready for the days we were both working. Just took a bit of pressure off us.

We also try to keep organised by getting work and nursery clothes ready for the next day before going to bed. Very useful when your child has a habit of hiding their shoes! I put out my whole outfit including shoes, underwear and jewellery - it really saves time and makes mornings a little less hectic.

We couldn't bear the thought of using external childcare (not could our wallets afford it) so DP and I both went part time and worked opposing days.
It meant that we only had one day a week altogether as a family but also meant that we both got to enjoy our new DD equally.

The compromise paid off as with the spare time afforded to us from working part time we were able to set up our own fledgling business and we are now in the same financial position as we were pre-child.

Took some work, but we got there without compromising ourselves!

FourGates Fri 13-Sep-13 16:48:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bubbles85 Fri 13-Sep-13 17:31:53

I am shortly going to start my maternity leave and after having spoken with colleagues that have already had their maternity leave and returned to work, they have passed on a few tips:

- Use your keeping in touch days so you don't loose touch with things going on in the workplace.

- Make sure you speak regularly with your friends from work and make an effort to see them so it doesn't seem awkward when you go back.

- Don't put yourself under pressure when you first return.

- Don't talk about your baby all the time!

Lurleene Fri 13-Sep-13 17:45:17

Try and place your baby in a childcare setting close to your workplace rather than your home. It will be easier to get to them if you need to, you're less likely to get stuck in traffic on the way to get them and you won't have to pay for so many hours.

nextphase Fri 13-Sep-13 18:09:31

Complete opposite to Lurleene - childcare close to home, so any parent can collect/drop off the kids. Don't make it so its always you.

Returning to work was a disaster. My (ex) boss was a nightmare. Apparently I have no ability to think any more, and was given work about 7 pay grades below me. Completely wrecked my confidence. So, try to get back into your level / area of expertise asap, even at 75% rates. Now got a new boss, and its fab (despite folklore being I've jumped from the good boss to the hopeless one)

Doobydoo Fri 13-Sep-13 18:18:42

I returned to work when ds1 was 4months old.We moved counties and I started a very different job in a childrens hospice as a nurse.Prior to that I worked in childrens outpatients and a neonatal unit.My dp worked fromwhen I was 6 months pregnant until I went back.We had no family support .Dp cared for ds1 whilst I was at work...not really a tip but I am interested to read how people manage.

CousinArnold Fri 13-Sep-13 18:20:11

Have a trial run before you return to work of getting yourself and DC up, ready and out of the house by the time you will need to leave the house in the mornings. It can take a bit longer than you think!

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