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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)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

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.

MacNCheese Fri 13-Sep-13 18:33:56

I felt guilty returning to work as if I'd been on a lovely long paid holiday. After a while a realised my new found motherhood had made me better at my job. Women should value the skills they have gained as a parent that are often very transferable to the work place.

noisytoys Fri 13-Sep-13 19:10:32

Take as long as you need and don't feel pressured into returning to the workplace before you are ready. With DD1 I took 16 weeks maternity leave, went back far too soon, did far too much and had a full on breakdown. With DD2 I waited until I was fully ready to go back which meant I was at home until she was nearly 3. I am a much better employee for it and don't feel torn between work and home.

I went back full time when dd1 was 3 months and when dd2 was 10 weeks.

- clothes laid out the night before. I also used to sort out 5 outfits on a Sunday and hang them up complete with tights, underwear etc

- packed lunches made the night before, as much as possible

- mugs, breakfast bowls etc laid out the night before, for easy morning filling!

- takeaway on a Friday

- cook two meals on a Sunday, one for Sunday and one for Monday. On Monday, whilst Monday's meal is warming through, cut up vege etc for Tuesday. On Tuesday, prepare as much as poss for Weds etc. It really helped to know that dinner was at least partly prepared, rather than rushing home from work to start entirely from scratch each night.

tanfastic Fri 13-Sep-13 20:11:42

I found keeping in touch with my boss and work colleagues during my time off made it easier when I went back to work. I also went In one day a month to use up my keeping in touch days.

Watching with interest for when I return next year so I can't really comment too much, but I think support from family (and friends) is really important

AllSWornOut Fri 13-Sep-13 20:57:57

My tip would be to be very clear with your boss about your expectations and capacity.

My boss was determined to protect me when I returned, which would have been nice if there hadn't been a HUGE increase in workload while I'd been away and I could see my colleagues being run ragged. It left me feeling sidelined and it took a long time before I felt part of my old team again.

sharond101 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:08:50

Have a dry run at childcare arrangements so you don't need to worry that the DC will be distressed all day.

Don't phone phone the childcare to make sure they are ok you will cry when you hear what they have been doing.

Prepare as much as you can the night before so when you get home you can spend a little time with your child.

Pencil in a few days off soon after your return so you have something to look forward to.

Do everything online! Grocery shopping, banking, bills - everything. I have a long commute - 2 hours each way by train - and try to use this time on household admin so that it doesn't eat into precious family time. I'm just about to return to work after a second year long maternity leave and am as nervous as hell!

OrganixAddict Sat 14-Sep-13 08:37:38

In my case appointing maternity cover who turned out to be a nightmare everyone hated made sure (albeit accidently) I was welcomed back with open arms!
More general advice would be to plan meals and outfits for first week in advance (include spare outfit in plan in case of baby smearing you with snot / toothpaste / weetabix). Oh and buy washable ad opposed to dry clean workwear.
Also regular online shop, cleaner if you can afford it and childcare you love. I used a nursery which was wonderful. It also offered a standard day which was about an hour longer than I needed, giving me some slack to arrive at work early or leave late. I felt much less stressed not having to dash out the door on time every day.
On confidence at work, I did find it daunting returning but just told myself I could do the job pre-dc so could still do it now. After second mat leave I returned to new management and team structure so requested an hour long orientation / catch-up meeting so I knew what was going on and people were talking about.
On a less professional note, I also stayed close to a work friend during mat leave who was very in-the-know so I felt up-to-date with gossip!

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 14-Sep-13 08:44:21

Just going to add my thoughts then will read through. I'm soon to be off on maternity leave for 6 months, then returning to a job I love - but it's still a very daunting prospect.

I think the key issue is with employers. Returning to work feels so much worse if you're essentially forced to go back sooner than you wanted (like me at 6 months) because the maternity package is the lowest it can possibly be and there are no flexible / part time options for return. That said, my employer does offer KIT (keeping in touch) days so that I can go in once per month fully paid & keep in the loop. I've also been v much involved in selecting my maternity cover which has helped.

On a more materialistic note which I guess is what this threads really after - things which would give me confidence when returning to work include: work clothing that really fits my post pregnancy body and which I know I look good and professional in. A healthy, energising lunch each day - maybe with a little treat to give me a boost when flagging in the day. Photo key ring or similar so I can keep piccies of new baby around me all the time. A mobile phone with direct line to whoever is caring for my baby - and work's understanding that I'd want to keep the phone on all the time in case they contacted me. And a good diary with To Do list space to help organise my thoughts & get priorities in order whilst settling back in

Wildwaterfalls Sat 14-Sep-13 09:54:51

Top tips:

- stay in touch with colleagues during mat leave
- have a long settling in period at nursery. DD started going a few hours a week in June even though I didn't go back to work until Sep. Gave me a chance to meet with colleagues too.
- Arrange help for the first month. All our family live abroad but we have DM/DMIL staying with us for a month. Great for emergency childcare and helping with housework!

Wildwaterfalls Sat 14-Sep-13 10:27:49

Oh and importantly:

- Lower your standards!!! I am quite a tidy / precise person but I've had to embrace the fact that toys won't always be tidily assembled and put away, the laundry basket can sometimes be full and if we sometimes eat beans on toast that's ok.

lollypopsicle Sat 14-Sep-13 10:30:45

My return to work was made more difficult by the fact that I had missed crucial training that changed the way I was expecting to do things. It caused me extra anxiety that I could have done without. I wasn't given the option to attend the training and didn't know it was even taking place.
This time (different employer) I have made it clear I would like to know about important training to at least have the option to attend as a KIT day.

ArtemisKelda Sat 14-Sep-13 11:16:29

Interesting! I go back to my weekend job today and my main job on Monday.

I wasn't given the option to use KIT days unfortunately, in a way, I wish I had as I'm starting to get really nervous, especially as I have a 40 min walk to get both children to nursery & school then a commute. I just hope I can get in on time!

My tips are be organised, have everything ready the night before. G easy in yourself, I really missed DS in the first few weeks and I'm sure I'll be the same about DD. Use nursery or childminder settling in days and make sure that you're happy with childcare arrangements.

NomDeClavier Sat 14-Sep-13 11:45:53

I didn't notice a change but I took a short ML and it doesn't work for everyone but I found compartmentalising really helped. Workwear and makeup were workwear and work make-up, I changed when I got home. Also I was off over a long teaching break at university anyway and sort of it KIT before DS arrived writing exam papers and then I obviously got results and other info through. Unlike one of my colleagues I didn't ask to not receive departmental emails, I just didn't necessarily read and reply. That meant I was still in the loop.

My colleagues were understanding about arranging my teaching timetable which helped. DH didn't really do much to ease the return to work!

My top tips would be:
Believe in and make the most of said Everyday Effect! It makes a big difference to how you feel if you know you look good and are clean. If you didn't carry spare tights and touch up make up before them start now. Also if it's practical keep a change of clothes at work for the baby snot/vomit/sticky hands incidents at drop off.

Organise everything in advance, and if you can afford a nanny to provide childcare at home then it's worth the extra for the children's laundry, cleaning and meals to be done and the lack of drop off/pick up which makes your commute longer and means your little one is out the house for a long day.

Once you know your return date (or about 6 weeks before at least) start trying to ease yourself back into work mode for a short time during the day. You may actually find that the time management and prioritising at work helps you organise your home admin more efficiently and it won't be as much of a shock when you have to talk to someone other than a baby/on a subject other than babies.

RegainingUnconsciousness Sat 14-Sep-13 12:48:55

As most other posters have said, the key for us has been keeping organised, getting everything ready the night before, etc.

I only had a short time off work, so going back wasn't too traumatic in terms of work. I wish I'd been more insistent regarding asking for time to express, and the 20 mins a day offered was just not enough.

For us, working as a team is key. We divide up the jobs and get everything organised for the morning before DS is in bed, that way we've got the evening to work ourselves.

Good, reliable and flexible childcare is essential, we have a local childminder who is like an aunt to DS, who will hopefully continue to have him as he goes through school.

lagoonhaze Sat 14-Sep-13 13:42:59

Being organised. Getting whole family onboard.

Discussing expectations and change in family dynamics.

However above all have a plan a b and c for when child sick, transport fails etc....

peronel Sat 14-Sep-13 13:43:23

Top Tip: Change your attitude! Think laterally, for yourself and what you really want. Surveys have previously shown that, actually, many mums do not really want to go back to work - they prefer to spend quality time getting to know their new baby. Bizarrely, looking after another persons baby is widely recognized as being a job for which a reasonable reward is paid. Yet, if you (or I) decide to dare to flout modern convention and look after our own children, this is now almost frowned upon. If you happen to believe that the best person to look after your own child is you, its mother - then that is what you will do. Because whatever could you choose to buy with the money you earn that would be worth more than time spent with your own child? Makes materialism seem just greed and a way in which humans by being acquisitive, buying the most fashionable (and expensive) brands - sometimes turning out to be not even the best! are behaving exactly as animals of all species do. Showing off to impress! What a wonderful mother you are then (NOT!) Settle for a smaller house, for now or do whatever it takes. LESS IS MORE!!! Rant over. smile

skyeskyeskye Sat 14-Sep-13 14:11:10

A routine helps, make packed lunches the night before, lay out clothes for yourself and DC. Allow plenty of time in the morning to get ready so you are not stressed out.

Keep in touch with your boss and colleagues while away and do your KIT days if you can. When you return, make sure that you can cope with your hours and allow plenty if time for travelling.

Get a childminder or nursery that you are completely happy to leave DC in. Walk away the first day and don't look back. Focus on your work and the day will fly by.

Reastie Sat 14-Sep-13 16:42:14

Get everything ready the night before so you can grab and run in the mornings (including your outfit). Get one of those mug thermos things to have a tea/coffee in the car on the way to work to save time trying and failing to have it beforehand. Allow extra time as things always take longer than you think.

Expect to find it heart wrenching initially. I spent at least the first 4 months convinced I would leave my job and hated it but I've settled back finally and glad I stuck with it. It does get easier with time.

IceNoSlice Sat 14-Sep-13 17:02:27

When discussing your return to work with bosses, be positive and confident in your contribution. Don't approach a PT request as 'I only want to work 3/4 days', instead present a business case for what you will do and how you can rearrange workload/drop tedious tasks (ideally) to achieve this. Carry on this positive attitude when you start at work - don't focus on leaving early/on time but make the time you are there count. Get your head down - I think I am more focused and efficient now than ever, as I want to leave on time to see DS for bath time.

Likewise make time with DC count too - it's more precious than ever so don't waste it doing chores.

Get a cleaner and send out ironing if you can afford it.

DH helped my transition by taking the equal role he always has and sharing nursery drop off/pick up.And chores. And night time wakes. We discuss diaries every few days so if he has a big meeting or is away I can plan for it (and vice versa). And talk to each other all the time. No competing, you're both tired!

Plan, plan, plan. Lists. Meal plan, clothes plan, to do lists. Lots of healthy batch cooked meals in the freezer.

Lastly, be nice to yourself. You won't get everything done. You'll sometimes eat instant food. Treat yourself to new make up and the odd evening slobbing in front of the telly.

DTisMYdoctor Sat 14-Sep-13 17:59:58

My top tips for going back to work would be:

1. When you start weaning, think about what time you'll eat when you go back to work - I knew we wouldn't eat till 6.30 - 7, so I had to get DS used to eating at that time.

2. Sort out your childcare as early as you can

3. If you want to reduce your hours, don't leave it until the last minute to approach your employers, and when you do, prepare your case, taking into account business requirements. Too often I see flexible work requests which are just about accommodating personal circumstances. You need to demonstrate how it can work without a negative impact on the business.

4. Don't feel guilty about being at work. Enjoy that whole lunch hour!

have some settling in days at nursery, don't overstay the first few times no matter how hard it is. I left ds at nursery to go on a 6 hour trip away and he screamed the place down sad but it does and will get easier hold onto this thought. buy yourself a coffee and repeat this too shall pass!

If you intend to take a longish maternity leave and use a nursery, then if you can afford to, start your DC at nursery for 2 sessions a week from 6 months. This is before separation anxiety begins to increase, so a child settling in at 6 months is likely to settle in quicker than at 12 months. You can also ask the nursery to take your DC on your KIT days. It also means that you will probably find it easier to leave your DC at nursery when you return to work as you will be confident that your DC is happy. So it splits "childcare angst" and "work angst".

Alanna1 Sat 14-Sep-13 21:52:12

Top tips? Tesco delivery saver. Amazon prime.

Be organised. Shared electronic diary.

Emergency childcare options. Grandparents/siblings.

Not doing much at weekends. No social life outside of my family!

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