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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. Read here.

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.

SpecialJK Wed 18-Sep-13 14:48:02

I went back to work 5 days a week only a few months ago, which felt very daunting at the time. But by far the thing that made going back to work easier was having trust in my childcare arrangements. I don't think I could have dropped my precious baby off every day with someone I didn't like and trust, and who my DS obviously did too!

I've also given myself a break on the home front since returning. Acknowledging you're not superwoman, and trying to do everything perfectly. I'm a great believer in 'good enough' now when it comes to housework, cleaning and general mundane tasks. It's infinitely more important when you go back to work to make sure the time that you're not there is spent enjoying your children, not doing the hoovering!

petalsandstars Wed 18-Sep-13 14:50:30

Having contact from manager before starting back so you know what is expected of you in the first few days is really good and preferable to just turning up.

Make sure you are comfortable with childcare arrangements so you don't add extra worry in first few days.

Don't feel guilty for liking being able to have a conversation or eat lunch without having to think about your child's needs constantly.

littlemonkeychops Wed 18-Sep-13 19:41:56

Firstly, try not to build it up into a big huge deal in your head. I was really worried before i went back but it wasn't as bad as i'd feared.

Secondly, get your DC settled with childcare well before you go back if you can, that way they'll be used to it and your first dayback won'tbe so traumatic for them and you.

Thirdly, go easy on yourself, it's totally fine to feel guilty/not guilty/worried/upset etc. Don't expect a spotless house, do easy meals on days you've worked.

My work let me go part-time thankfully but apart from that they weren't hugely supportive. No way it took me three months to settle in, maybe 3 weeks.

wibblyjelly Wed 18-Sep-13 21:53:01

The thought of going back is much worse than the actual event. If DC is going to nursery or a child minder, make sure they have settling in periods to put your mind at rest.
We make sure that ds's bag is ready to go the night before, so in the morning, I just need to grab him and go!

Geniene Thu 19-Sep-13 11:31:40

I found that being organised helped with the transition as it stopped any addition stress and made mornings run smoothly. Bags are packed and ready by the door the night before, lunch made and in fridge, I even got my own work clothes out ready, so I had time to give it some thought and stop the morning chaos of throwing clothes everywhere trying to find what looks best and fits properly.
A quick slick of lipstick (after kissing the baby goodbye) also does the trick!
For the first couple of weeks I had batch cooked easy things like Lasagne and popped them in the freezer so tea wasn't an ordeal after being at work, and more time could be spent with the little ones catching up on their day.

Yes it was daunting going back full time after taking a year off. I've done this twice.

I would have felt more relaxed going back to work if I'd had more choices about childcare. I had lots of problems for various reasons getting care for both my children and it nearly drove me to the edge of reason both times. Having good childcare in place is the single most important thing that would have made me more relaxed about going back to work.
Either that or having family closer, which isn't an option for us.

Colleagues were very supportive overall and helped by giving good handover sessions, being on hand to answer questions when I needed and generally being understanding. I didn't use many keep in touch sessions but I found having reasonably regular correspondence over email with colleagues kept me up to date and feeling part of the team again in the weeks before I returned. Partner was supportive, I think the most important thing they can do is understand that you are both working parents and so home responsibilities need to be fairly split. This is easier said than done though.

Top tips:

- sort out childcare early.
- Accept that you may have different and sometimes conflicting priorities and prepare for how you will tackle these.
- Accept help when you can, or where help from family or friends isn't an option, buy it in.
- work out your finances, you will be getting a salary again but also might have increased childcare costs and other costs such as travel, petrol etc.
- do that thing you did before you gave birth, when you do a big shop, filled the freezer with quick easy meals and filled the cupboards with wine and cake. Then you won't need to worry about finding time to go on emergency nappy or dinner run on your lunch break like I did!
- check your timings for school/nursery drop and commute to work so that you can prepare for the real thing.
- ask for flexible working hours and ask for at least one day working from home if at all feasible. This will make a huge difference to your work/life balance.
- enjoy being at work if you can, don't spend too much time feeling guilty, there is no point and it doesn't help anybody.
- be (or at least appear to be) confident in yourself and others will be too.

Lent1l Thu 19-Sep-13 14:57:59

I think a lot of it depends on the company you are with. I had a good experience but I have a very good manager. We had calls every other month whilst I was on ML and he caught me up on all the latest news and gossip from work. We had a sit down f2f meeting my first week back where we discussed what I should be doing but he explained that he was not dropping me straight in and I should spend the first week or two clearing out my inbox, catching up on overdue mandatory training and remembering where everything was.

I work for a large company where ML is part and parcel of everyday life and the HR department know exactly how to deal with it, keep you informed, help you to know what needs filling in when.

I was also encouraged to use up leave before and after ML to extend the leave I had, and as you accumulate it whilst you are off I had a lot to take int a short space of time when I returned otherwise I would lose it, so this extended my leave without affecting the finances.

However, my sil has jsut had a not so great experience. She works for a much smaller company than I do and they are not used to ML. She thought that it had all been agreed with her manager before she went on ML that when she came back she would be working only 4 days a week. However, he never passed this on to HR and jsut days before she was due to go back she found this out and they have refused to make the change to her contract. She now realises she should have insisted on seeing the change in her contract before her ML started. She is now taking leave one day of every week for the next two months to use up accrued A/L and also to try and show the company she can do her work in 4 days every week. She is hoping they change their minds as she can not afford the extra day in nursery.

So I would recommend you have everything in writing before starting ML, especially if it means a change to your working hours. Also if you will need facilities for expressing check these are available and suitable and that there is somewhere to store the milk after expressing.

Ruby6918 Thu 19-Sep-13 18:34:46

the main thing is to make sure that you know the wee one will be well looked after, start researching your childminding options well before you go back, check out family members and see if maybe they can lend a hand, a lot of family are willing to do this but not be tied down to full time childcare, visit nurseries a few times and you will get a feeling for the place, ask can you leave the child maybe for an hour or two and go for walk with your phone and call back to see how your child is getting on, make sure you are physically well, eat and drink as healthy as you can and
never g back to walk if your under the weather, speak to you employer and ask can they maybe be flexible for a small time until you settle in, maybe start even an hour later and take a short lunch, make sure you have all contact numbers sorted out with your childcare provider, when i went back i felt guilty but instead of rushing in and getting stuck into dinne and household chores, come home and allow you and your child even a half an hour of quality time to unwind and enjoy each other again, you are both more important than household chores, make sure to talk to your family and friends and let them know how you are feeling, and remember that if it gets too much speak to your doctor and they may be able to suggest a few extra weeks with the help of a sick line and some support, good luck, ive done it three times and its hard but we are all stronger than we think,

Hopezibah Thu 19-Sep-13 20:53:15

I think my top tip would be to stay in touch throughout your maternity leave - especially if you are 'friends' with your colleagues anyway - it is nice to meet up for lunches etc. I think it is also handy just to keep using a computer, or reading trade magazines for example (where relevant) just so you don't lose your confidence with that sort of thing and you know roughly what's been going on.

I think guilt is a huge factor when returning to work - I think being happy with your childcare options and having looked into them early so you are not making a rush decision and then reminding yourself that your child is in good hands and telling yourself not to feel guilty about it.

Get a few meals in the freezer so you get a head start on things like that to help ease you back into things or if a friend or family member offers any help like getting some shopping in or cleaning then take them up on it - just those knowing you have got support with a few things for the first few days back can help.

Hopezibah Thu 19-Sep-13 20:54:36

also knowing your rights / entitlements is helpful when discussing flexible working etc with your employer. And don't be afraid to ask for what you would ideally like as they may surprise you with how flexible they can be!

NomadMomDiary Thu 19-Sep-13 21:45:19

For me, the hardest part of going back to work was trying to get colleagues with no children or just one child (I have two) to understand that a regimented 'You must be at your desk by 8:30am no matter what' approach was not always going to work for me. With a husband that travels and family thousands of miles away, I needed some flexibility in arrival and leave times.
I soon realised that it wasn't a lack of caring on their parts but more a complete lack of understanding of my circumstances. Once I took the time to explain to my team what was happening outside of work and I offered them a bit of flexibility in return, everyone was happy to settle into the new routine.

AndHarry Fri 20-Sep-13 08:16:51

I went back to work this month. The best thing that happened was that the company got rid of my horrible manager grin Apart from that, these things have helped:

- Having a couple of return-to-work meetings to discuss organisational changes, my working hours etc.

- Doing a few KIT days in the month leading up to my return so I had a chance to iron out IT issues, sort out my desk and do a few bits of work to get back into the swing of it.

- Going through my work clothes the week before to see what fits, what doesn't, send shoes for repairs, clothes for dry-cleaning.

- Doing a dry-run of my morning and evening commute to check traffic conditions and timings for nursery.

- Getting my own and the DCs' clothes, lunches and bags ready the night before so I didn't have to think about it in the morning.

- Scheduling a series of handover and catchup meetings with colleagues.

- Sitting in on meetings my colleagues were attending so I understand the projects they're involved in.

- Everyone coming to say hello, give me a hug and full me in on the office happenings over the year I've been away.

I was a bit nervous but now it feels as though I never left.

DanglingChillis Fri 20-Sep-13 11:48:31

I'm going back to work next week after DC3.

On the family side, get your LO sorted in their childcare a week or two prior to starting work, it means your first day isn't stressful for them as well because they are already settled and it allows you a few days to blitz the house/have a major shopping trip for some new clothes/spend some time with friends without children having an adult conversation before you go back.

Make a plan for mornings and evenings and make sure everyone sticks to it and knows the timings, do as much preparation for the next morning as you can the evening before, clothes laid out, shoes polished, packed lunches ready, school/work bags ready, breakfast table laid, casserole ready to go in slow cooker etc. Pay people to take over the house work. Obviously we are paying for childcare but we've also got a cleaner and currently thinking about using a laundry service. We've used one before and will probably use them just for the sheets and towels in the winter but that will make a big difference.

At work, if you can read email while at home use it to keep up to date with work. Expect it to take a while to get back into the swing of things. I had DC1&2 close together (I went back to work pregnant after DC1) and when I returned after DC2 it did take me a while to really get used to work again (this time I'm desperate to return!). On the other hand having 2 close together does mean it gets the baby stuff 'out of the way' as far as work is concerned until you have a third. I also found my second pregnancy easier because I was back for such a short time I got a fairly easy self contained project to work on and also had no management responsibilities for that time which reduced my work load a lot. So there's my top tip: go back to work pregnant.

I'm lucky that my work is project based so when you go back after maternity leave you start on a new project, but everyone on that project is new to it as well so you're not having to fit back into a long term set up. My boss is quite good at easing you back to work, my first project after DC2 was something that was well within my capacities and got me up and running again before he gave me with something more challenging to get my teeth into.

Littlecherublegs Fri 20-Sep-13 15:38:25

Try to go into work the week before you are due back - just to see people again and familiarise yourself with the setting etc. And just to remind everyone you're coming back!
It was a big help for me.

Also, ensure you have childcare in place well in advance of your return - and a provider you are 100% happy with. One not too far away from your work place would be useful - and one who understand what leaving a child behind for the first time is like (so they will expect the tears!!)

mindingalongtime Fri 20-Sep-13 15:50:47

Find a childminder who will provide everything from bibs to muslins, food to spare clothes, car seat to potties, nappies to making up bottles, ! You'll never have to think " Did I put enough......... in the bag" .... ever!
( I provide that service, it's called peace of mind!? grin

Snog Fri 20-Sep-13 15:57:33

Batch cook some meals to keep you all happy and healthy in your busy lives!
Live within cycling distance of your job if at all possible.

katiewalters Fri 20-Sep-13 16:37:41

I went back part time, which my employers were fine with, so I wasn't away from my baby all day, and missing out on things. Myself and my partner sorted our hours so 1of us had the baby, didn't have to use a childminder or nursery,

rlouisa Fri 20-Sep-13 16:39:43

i always go back to work around 6months after birth as it aids with my weight loss..all the running around in the work makes the pounds drop off honestly!!!

I went back to work full time after both of my maternity leaves. What made it easier was having childcare set up well in advance, and sorting out hours with work so that I could be sure they were OK with me scooting out of the door at 4pm every day to collect the children. When I felt happy with the arrangements going back to work was fairly straightforward.

When I had got back to work I appreciated the little things that I had really missed: coffee that hadn't gone cold before I got a chance to drink it, going for a wee in private, being able to have a conversation with another adult - several times a day in fact, and I had somehow also managed to delegate a days worth of nappy changes too. Going back to work was tiring when the children didn't sleep well, but I found other parents very understanding and with a ready supply of biscuits to get me through the dips in the day.

Rollerskaterabbit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:39:44

The best advice I was given was to just try and do the best you can. Realise that each workplace unfortunately has people who don't understand what you are dealing with and are intolerant of how your working situation is now a lot harder. Realise that each workplace fortunately has supportive people as well. Realise that people will tut tut when you are off because the baby is ill. Ignore it. All in all, it will take time to all become a good routine but it will happen. Just keep your chin up!

EastFife5Forfar4 Fri 20-Sep-13 18:22:30

Can I win the voucher please, I don't want P&G stuff as they still test on animals.

My top tip would be to not go back to work unless you absolutely have to.

IncaAztec Fri 20-Sep-13 19:22:10

Is/was this the case for you?

It didn't take 3 months for me, but I can see where the issue comes from. Time/jobs/Role had moved on by the time I went back. I was doing the same job in name, but in reality, I had moved schools and was expected to do slightly different things day to day.

What would have helped you feel more relaxed about going back to work?

Better briefings from management and doing more KIT days.

What things did your colleagues/partner do to help with the transition?

Improved at laying out clothes etc the night before, planned what he was going to wear - clean shirts ironed the night before etc.

What are your top tips for mums returning to work after having a baby?

Make it clear that you won't be doing as much childcare/housework day to day on the days you work. You won't be. Fact. You will settle into a new routine day to day and things will work out in time.

prettybird Fri 20-Sep-13 19:45:54

Just remembered another bit of advice my best friend gave me: not to get upset if you missed milestones like the first step etc. What matters is the first time you see your child's first step etc.

Nigglenaggle Fri 20-Sep-13 19:53:40

What would have helped you feel more relaxed about going back to work? I did feel pretty relaxed. It helped that we are a small team and get on fine. Also I had a pretty short maternity leave so hadn't been out of the loop that long.

What things did your colleagues/partner do to help with the transition? Although we're busy they were very good at making time for me to express milk. We are quite comfortable with each other so eventually we'd just chat while I got on with it ^^. No one griped that I was leaving early.

What are your top tips for mums returning to work after having a baby? Make sure you have done a trial separation from your baby first - had them go to Grandmas for the afternoon or overnight, so both of you are used to it. The first time is very hard. Also, if you are going to need a change of conditions - for example I needed to leave early for a while to give DC his pre-bedtime feed, or are going to express milk, contact work well in advance to discuss the best way of this happening. I forgot about this until a couple of weeks before and was just lucky I have an exceptional boss and colleagues.

gloriafloria Fri 20-Sep-13 20:13:16

It is understandable that our confidence may on the low side upon returning to work after maternity leave. I would say try and have realistic expectations of how things may go to begin with and don't be too hard on yourself if it takes a while to get back up to date with it all. Remember you are a valuable asset to your employer and they are lucky to have your experience and expertise back. I would say the hardest part is getting the child care sorted - When you know your children are well cared for and happy then work can actually be enjoyable (sometimes)!

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