Struggling with return to work after mat leave

(12 Posts)
Ladywithababy1 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:09:33

I returned just before DS turned one, at the start of December, and I just can't shake the feeling that I'm no longer any good at my job and that people think I'm incompetent now and that because I haven't gone back full time (I'm working from home one morning a week with the afternoon of that day off - so 4 days in the office) I'm somehow slacking.

I feel like I'm still getting used to juggling everything but initially I was priding myself on how I wasn't bringing home into the office etc - now I feel like I'm so tired all the time (5am wake ups from DS) that I'm doubting my ability and becoming paranoid that people thing I'm not up to it.

Basically I feel completely at sea and not on top of anything and am just not fully focused any more - not helped also by terrible management of people by some senior figures.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling - I guess I just need someone to hold my hand and say it gets easier juggling everything, and any tips to make life more streamlined.

TIA

Ladywithababy1 Fri 08-Jan-16 19:51:40

Bump

magpie17 Fri 08-Jan-16 19:55:01

I've no advice I'm afraid but I'm worried about the same thing, due back in June when DS will be 11 months old. I'm still trying to decide whether to go back full time but I'm worried about juggling everything (and missing DS!) but if I go back part time I worry that I'll be seen as not committed. Sorry I can't help but I think what you're feeling is very common, hopefully somebody will have some wise words!

Lightbulbon Fri 08-Jan-16 19:58:17

Prioritise getting a full nights sleep.

When you're chronically tired your perspective gets skewed.

Are you getting test at home?

Is your dp doing his fare share?

kathrunneth Fri 08-Jan-16 22:03:14

I run workshops to help mums with their transition back to work after maternity leave and this is such a common experience - I promise you it will get better and easier!

Many women think they were doing a better job before having their baby, or that they feel like they are struggling at work and everyone is judging them, but the truth is that colleagues/bosses often aren't noticing/commenting. Usually it's us reacting to the new roles we have (mother and worker) and the challenges that they bring (lack of time, guilt, lack of concentration when we're not sleeping, exhaustion from trying to do it all both at home and at work). I've heard stories of many women giving up, deciding to leave work, and finally having a frank conversation with their boss/colleagues - only to realise that everyone else was oblivious as to what was going on in the woman's head.

So if I could give you a couple of tips I'd suggest that you have a chat with your most supportive colleague or work friend and just check in on how you really are perceived. It will hopefully put your mind at rest and let you focus more on doing the job than on worrying about it.

And then I'd suggest that you really focus on what you want to achieve in your day job. It is tough for many women to get used to working only 4 days and knowing that we have to trust our reputation on the other day. Knowing we can't do it all. But it you focus on achieving some specific concrete goals, you will feel like you are achieving things and your confidence will increase each time you tick off a task. Don't try to do too much, just find a couple of small achievable things, things that might already be on your long 'to do' list. But identify those important things, write yourself a note and put it somewhere visible - "this is what I'm going to do by that date". These goals could be to finish a small pet project for your boss, or to complete something that you know the management team will notice. It's important that you focus on what other people need you to do, especially your boss. As you make progress, these will be projects/tasks that people will be interested in hearing about. You can use them to start to let people around you know that you are cracking on with things. And your renewed confidence will rub off on everyone around you too.

I hope that helps but do ping me if you have any questions or want me to clarify anything. Re-entry is tough for many women but I promise you are doing great and hopefully you'll soon feel that way too.

kathrunneth Fri 08-Jan-16 22:06:15

And Magpie17, hopefully this approach will help you too but do ask if you have any other questions. Going back full time and part time are both challenging, each in their own ways, but both have lots of positives too. There's no one right answer of course, it all depends on how you feel and you think is right for you and your family.

Hero1callylost Fri 08-Jan-16 22:13:24

Kathrunneth, brilliant posts! flowers

Lady, Kath is absolutely right. It's taken me about 12-18 months to feel really back on top form at work. It takes time to settle in again on top of demands at home. You don't appreciate how many changes there are day to day at work until you're away for a while and have to catch up. Once your LO's sleep settles down you'll feel so different. It definitely gets better with time smile

Ladywithababy1 Fri 08-Jan-16 22:26:09

Thank you all so so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to give advice and support. I think intellectually I know that I am doing the best I can and that nobody at work is seriously scrutinising me as much as I think, but emotionally I can't quite grasp that concept. But as Hello said above, sleep definitely plays a big role in how confident and proactive I am in the day. I just hate how uncertain I feel day to day, not just at work but as a mother and a wife and a friend and a daughter and a sister and so on and so on. I used to feel like I was doing a great job in the one or two areas that I could focus on on mat leave, but now feel like I'm doing a half arsed job at all of those areas, and that everyone I love is being neglected.

Sorry if I sound inarticulate, I am just feeling a bit desperate!

kathrunneth Fri 08-Jan-16 22:46:01

Aw, thanks Hero1callylost, I'm new on here and it means a lot smile

kathrunneth Fri 08-Jan-16 22:46:35

And so pleased it's all working out for you too!

Loulabelle01 Fri 15-Jan-16 21:19:12

I could have written this Ladywithababy1!! I work shifts and find that even though I've been back 4 months now, I spend the day before I return feeling really low and teary. Kathrunneth your words have been a comfort and reassuring, thank you. We're going through a massive transition at work with redundancies and morale is at a low anyway, so to leave a smiling face to put up with a hostile environment is really tough! I don't feel like I fit in and am not getting the same opportunities I once had. I have to work as im the breadwinner, but feel like I'm finding it harder, especially after Xmas. It's not a particular thing anyone is doing at work, but maybe it is just me feeling paranoid and looking at fault at others when I'm the insecure one trying to adapt. I just want to be useful at work. By not fitting in and not being at home I feel really lost sad

Notstayingup Sat 16-Jan-16 08:59:47

I suspect a lot of mums go back to work after maternity leave and feel like they have lost their confidence. I know I did (twice!) But the thing the second time round was i remembered that I had felt like this before.

I can only talk from my perspective and friends that I have discussed this with - in my case, when I had DD1, with the leave I took both sides of her birth and the full maternity leave allowance, I was out of the office for 14 months. I learnt a whole new set of skills and I apart from dropping in with the baby once, I didn't bother with work until I went back. If I took DD aside, and I had gone and done anything else for the same amount of time (i.e. a secondment to a client, studying etc) and then gone back to my career, I probably would have felt the same, I would have felt out of the loop, things had moved on..... but I don't think I would have doubted my competence to do my job, and worry that everyone was judging me - I would have been off learning a new life skill etc.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in a long winded way, is that it isn't you and providing that your work is averagely supportive of working parents, then it will pass and you will get back into your groove. And things have changed, it is a lot to juggle home and work.

Sometimes it is really bloody hard, but you can do it and it will get better. My DH is lovely but was completely useless when I went back to work and he didn't get how hard it was for me. It took time for us both to shake down and find the new normal. If you have a partner talk to them about it and how you are feeling (I didn't as I was too busy trying to suck it up and carry on as normal - wish I had done)

I realise I have just written war and peace - but one other thing that really helped/helps me is: I am not perfect - not a perfect mum, colleague, employee, friend etc - BUT, no one in my life demands perfection - I just use my perceived inadequacies to kick myself with. You get better at doing the best you can, and putting out the fire that is burning hardest - depending on which part of your like work/home etc is on fire, you will give that the most attention. I mean this to be reassuring - I hope it is grin as I really enjoy my job (now) that I have got my priorities straight and I love being a mum too!

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