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Returning to work after a baby - how different was it?

(34 Posts)
Twentyten2010 Tue 25-Apr-17 20:01:28

I'm due to return to work in a few months and popped in to see everyone today. I really enjoyed it and was great catching up and engaging my brain, but it made me wonder how it's going to be when I return?

Prior to mat leave, I was an 'arrive early, stay late' worker and I think this was instrumental in me getting a promotion. I certainly won't be able to do this when I go back. I was also always 'switched on' and quite sharp and I worry that I'll either lose my edge or that it'll all seem inconsequential when I have a baby at home.

So how did you find it? Did you manage to slot back in seamlessly? Or were you always playing catch up with yourself?

PacificDogwod Tue 25-Apr-17 20:03:50

It is a big adjustment from a practical point of view (my biggest bit of advice is to have absolutely cast iron child care in place + a Plan B for when the cast iron child care goes Pete Tong... hmm<bitter experience>), but other than that?

Like riding a bike grin

JellyWitch Tue 25-Apr-17 20:05:12

Hard and harder still after the second. The lack of sleep is the killer.

CeeCeeEnnEss Tue 25-Apr-17 20:05:44

I'm also worried about this. I honestly think baby brain is real and I'm far less clever than I used to be!

Trifleorbust Tue 25-Apr-17 20:07:15

During the day it is fine. Am a classroom teacher so I don't have a lot of time to focus on anything other than the kids! But at the end of the day I now want to get home to the baby, whereas before I was happy to hang around doing extra. Totally different feelings about work-life balance, for me.

stoplickingthetelly Tue 25-Apr-17 20:07:23

It is the lack of sleep that make you less clever.

user1483644229 Tue 25-Apr-17 20:07:58

Agree have good childcare in place but at the same time start as you intend to continue i.e. If you're doing the nursery run then start with this approach day one. Offer to log in later at home if this sort of thing is possible. In terms of being sharp, aside from a few weeks of feeling weird, you'll be as sharp as a tack once used to things (if not better as your time is precious and you need to use your time resourcefully - this can make you very focused in your train of thought).

fanfrickintastic Tue 25-Apr-17 20:08:53

I love my job even more now! It really helps me value my time with DS and I also feel I'm doing something for me. But my job is one I enjoy and find worthwhile, which I think makes a difference.

I manage to get me and DS out of the house in 40minutes, which I'm pretty proud of but nursery give him breakfast so I don't have that to contend with.

Anatidae Tue 25-Apr-17 20:09:04

Shit, in a word.
I've not slept more than an hour in a row for 18m. My brain is fried, my executive function and cognitive ability is severely impaired.
I have no time to work late, I have to juggle everything g around the nursery run.
And I got demoted when I went back, which is totally illegal where I live but I'm too fucking tired to fight it. My career is fucked completely because I'm Seen as on the mummy track.

So shit, yes. Sorry.

BettyOBarley Tue 25-Apr-17 20:10:31

I found it really odd at first - after the first day it felt almost like you'd never been away, but yet a whole year had passed and things / people had changed and moved on. Weird feeling and hard to explain. I also found my motivation was very low as work just wasn't anywhere near the top of my list of priorities or headspace any more. However I'm currently on mat leave with the second and I'm not dreading my return as much this time.

Goondoit Tue 25-Apr-17 20:11:14

Don't try and be superwoman.
I've took my foot off of the pedal at work as I was focused on the next promotion next big project etc now I'm happy to do my job earn my wage and get home to my dd
I work 3 days and went back when dd was 9mo. I too was a long day kinda worker starting at 8ish leaving around 6 but now I'm there when I'm supposed to be might do 30mins more at the end of my day but that is it....Need to leave at 5 if I'm going to make it to nursery in time!!
I don't feel like I'm always playing catch up, I've shifted my work days around since initially going back that sorted out some teething troubles. I've lowered my standards of housework to tbh...
It can work!!

TooStressyForMyOwnGood Tue 25-Apr-17 20:11:48

Honestly? My career has never fully recovered. It did for a while with a supportive boss. However, the main issue for me is that I can no longer be an 'arrive early, leave late person' which is sadly what is wanted in my job. I clock watch constantly in order to not be late for childcare pick up. In addition, it now means that certain fields I could have gone into are now out of the question as they have irregular hours.

I do agree though that the actual job is often like riding a bike and the key is childcare. Currently taking steps for more flexible work which fits into family life... many of my friends and colleagues are doing the same.

29redshoes Tue 25-Apr-17 20:14:13

I think the biggest barrier is everyone telling you how hard you'll find it and making a big deal out of it! It seems to be quite fashionable these days, there's all these books you can read and events you can attend and life coaches you can consult... It makes you doubt yourself and then it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are advantages to being a parent and having to get back for childcare - I'm definitely much more organised than I was previously. Also unless you're a single parent then presumably you should still be able to go in early and stay late sometimes if needed, when your partner is doing drop off or pick up?

Be positive. It's different but so bad really.

29redshoes Tue 25-Apr-17 20:14:52

Ummmm...NOT so bad really.

Twentyten2010 Tue 25-Apr-17 20:21:08

29redshoes - yes, I'll be doing drop offs and DH doing pick ups so there is the opportunity to stay late but I have an hour commute and wouldn't want to miss putting DS to bed.

Thanks for the replies all, I probably need to do a bit more work on my cast iron childcare!

OhMrBadger Tue 25-Apr-17 20:23:26

After my mat. leave it was brilliant! I treated it as time for myself to engage with other adults and have things to do where the baby wasn't the focus. It also helped that my mat. cover had been a bit of a pain so I was warmly welcomed! I took the odd day off to have all to myself whilst DC was in nursery. DC slept really well so I was getting plenty of kip. All was fabulous.

Then I had DC2.
Work became a nightmare. I was working full time on p/t hours. My manager had had a breakdown and I was frantically trying to cover him. DC2 was a dreadful sleeper and started his days at 4am. I got really ill with recurrent infections. I took voluntary redundancy.

However, looking back I miss my job like crazy and wish I was still there. My crappy experience was down to circumstances. If my boss hadn't been ill all would have been ok.

passingcloud Tue 25-Apr-17 20:23:57

Totally fine and I went back to a promotion. Like you, I do the mornings and DH does the eves so I can work as late as I need. Am as driven as ever, totally absorbed in work when I'm there, and also love being with the baby when I'm with him. Mind you, we got serious with the sleep training just before I went back. Doing it on broken sleep would be a whole other thing.

Topsyloulou Tue 25-Apr-17 20:26:22

After the first few days it was like I'd never been away. I changed my hours so I start & finish earlier. It means I beat the traffic both ends of the day & I get more time with DS. He eats dinner at the childminder so when I pick him up we just play. I've very strict with myself that between 5.15 & 7 I'm all his, everything else has to wait until he's in bed. My DP works away all week which has made life a lot harder & all the childcare is down to me, I don't get to socialise in the week etc but it's not forever. It just means it's harder to keep on top of housework etc but we manage.

In terms of the actual work I do if anything I have more responsibility since I've been back & have been supporting the wider team. I still travel as much as I did before but I manage my time more efficiently so I get the earliest train I can there & back so I don't have to worry about being late. It doesn't have to change just because you have a child. I enjoy my job more now than before I had DS & it's exactly the same role.

Good luck!

Chocmudpie Tue 25-Apr-17 20:28:11

OP i could have written your post!! I got a promotion due to a massive amount of hard work (not ego boosting i promise) about 4 weeks before i went on mat leave. It will be a difficult job on my return and i will be returning full time but same as you i worry i wont be as good as i was before and that i wont be as highly thought of because i wont be able to stay late etc. I'm sure it'll work itself out and I'm not due back until March 2018 but its something i do wonder!!

PacificDogwod Tue 25-Apr-17 20:28:54

I loved, loved, loved going back to work after 4 sets of maternity leave - I enjoyed it more every time grin

Yes, it is hard.
You DO need good planning.

But you will be as good or as bad as your job as you were before.

I honestly think baby brain is real and I'm far less clever than I used to be!
I think 'baby brain' is true for the person who does most of the night time care, the planning of child care, the person who take on all the additional complexity of planning a demanding job/commute/career progression on top of wanting to be parent - typically that (still) remains the mother, but it does not need to be like that.

Beware trying to be super woman and make sure that your child's other parents shoulders just as much of the planning and execution of making this work as you do.

summerlovinggirl Tue 25-Apr-17 20:31:42

I loved going back after DS1, it gave some 'me'' time where I could be myself again. I had a wonderful childminder so I knew my son would be ok, and I really enjoyed being back among adults that talked about something other than babies!
Although I was focussed before, I was even more so when I went back as I wanted and got a promotion which in turn made family life easier with money etc.
On maternity leave again now and have another 3 months till I'm back at work. Although I'm loving being on may leave, I'm also really looking forward to going back to work.
Try and think of the positives and go back with a good attitude and you'll be fine! X

trilbydoll Tue 25-Apr-17 20:31:57

6pm hangs over you like a death sentence because you have to leave on time (or more usually 6.55 hoping I can do 5 miles in 5 minutes)

Your head is full of other things (do we have milk, was she meant to wear red to nursery, shit when is the Easter bonnet parade) so that when people refer to conversations you had the previous day you look at them totally blankly.

If you weren't a list writer before, start writing lists. Because your short term memory is probably a bit dodgy now.

You will be more efficient and not waste time chatting though!

I love it really grin nice to be me, and not just some woman who gets little people food, and I am pretty good at giving work 100% of my attention. I'm struggling because I'm trying to do a full time job in part time hours and altho DC are not terrible sleepers, they don't sleep through.

eurochick Tue 25-Apr-17 20:39:23

I'm glad I'm back as I need the adult company but it is bloody hard. I'm a lawyer so long hours and unpredictability are par for the course. My role also involves some travel. I feel like I'm doing everything badly - not giving the job my all and too knackered to really engage with my daughter in the evenings. I also don't feel like my brain is firing on all cylinders, as a result of sleep deprivation (she has slept through since a year ago but I still haven't recovered). I am permanently shattered. I keep waiting for it to improve but I've been back for over two years and it hasn't yet!

HumphreyCobblers Tue 25-Apr-17 20:41:33

I was a bit of a faffer before I had kids, I used to waste time chatting etc after school hours. When I went back I became so focused, I would get in early and get more done in the hour before school than in two hours after school before mat leave.

Basically it made me incredibly organised and efficient.

I was lucky in that my DH worked from home though, and did the school run etc. I had no juggling childcare issues to cope with so feel I had a pretty easy ride.

NeedMoreSleepOrSugar Tue 25-Apr-17 20:42:16

Totally fine and I was promoted within six months. I was also an in early, home late type before DD, but having her made me re-prioritise. I'm now very strict and unapologetic about leaving on time and not working during days off (Although I still do occasional work out of hours when it suits me and dd is in bed).

My view of work has changed massively; it is now very much second to family time but I also probably value it more than I did before. It is time when I can be "more" than just dds mum (I don't mean this as a slight to sahps, I'm not cut out to be one and would find it hard to cope if I didn't work too). Having brilliant childcare is the biggest factor in it going so well. We pay a fortune for it, but dd is thriving there and loves it, which means I don't feel that guilt that so many working mums do.

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