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Tips for coping

(32 Posts)
stackhead Mon 18-Nov-19 22:10:42

I'm going back to work full time in January after 6 months maternity. It's a new job so I'm quite excited about the new challenge and my daughter will be staying at home with her dad.

I'm feeling a little anxious and guilty about going back to work. I'll be out of the house almost 7-7 for 4 days and WFH on one. And I feel like im never going to see her.

I'm just looking for any practical tips for going back. How did you cope? Is there anything I should do to prepare?

LizWatson1986 Fri 22-Nov-19 14:32:47

Hello!

I was you, two years ago and about to go through it again. Back to work when my son was 6 months old, 12 hour days in London, 1 WFH and my son at home with his dad

Let me start by saying that it's all going to be okay and you will feel the transition more than them. You will NOT loose your bond with her, you are her mummy and nothing can or will change that

Make every second count. Try and get up and ready before they wake so any time you get is quality time and same for evenings focus on quality. You can be home all day and never be truly present, so focus always on quality

Get out for increasing amounts of time to make it easier for everyone. She might not be as happy as if she was with you but she will quickly adjust

Babies have no conception of time really so don't focus on hours you're gone and beat yourself up. Just reflect and think, of the time I did have, was it focused and did I show them I loved them? If so then your dad is a success.

Girls with mother's who work generally grow up more ambitious and have a great work ethic so don't feel guilty. You are helping to broaden her world leaving her with dad

I guess in summary;
Ease everyone in
Focus on quality not quantity
Don't feel guilty, she will be with someone who loves her

YOU WILL ACE IT xxx

stackhead Sat 23-Nov-19 21:40:09

@LizWatson1986

Thank you so much for that message. I just wanted you to know how much it has helped me.
Thank you.

LizWatson1986 Sun 24-Nov-19 08:26:05

It will honestly be okay. I spent the last three months of my first maternity leave in pieces about leaving my son. I worried he would forget me and bond with his dad more and I would come home and he wouldn't want to know me.

The reality couldn't have been more different.

You carried her for nine months, you are her source of comfort and if you are BF, food. Children are typically a more attached to their mothers for the first three years of life biologically so don't worry about loosing the bond. It just won't happen.

You'll like being an adult and having time to yourself. It won't be as awful as you fear.

I can tell you, she will go mad when you get back from work and those cuddles are amazing.

I put little post-it notes with positive affirmations on them all around the house and it really helped this time.

It will be okay. You're working to give her a better life and you're being a positive role model. As she gets older and you can talk to her life and work will get easier. This is the toughest period but you will get through it.

All the best xxx

hellspyjamas Thu 28-Nov-19 20:54:16

Hi, I am in the exact same boat - going back in January when my little one will be 6 months and she will be at home with her dad until July. Really appreciate the advice by @LizWatson1986 here! Also @stackhead maybe all of us could continue to support each other through it? I don't know anyone else on my position really, they all seem to get a full year. X

MoodLighting Thu 28-Nov-19 20:56:53

What a lovely message @LizWatson1986! I'm applying for jobs to go back full time. It was brilliant to hear such positivity.

LizWatson1986 Fri 29-Nov-19 10:56:37

I think that is a fantastic idea. I felt totally alone the first time. All my friends either went back at nearly a year or went back later and part time so I felt like nobody understood my pain!

I'm back again, 3 days in, and it's been tough but I know it will get better!

hellspyjamas Fri 29-Nov-19 12:21:08

@LizWatson1986 well done you, how are you and little one coping? What was the first day like? And are you getting any sleep? I have so many questions! X

LizWatson1986 Fri 29-Nov-19 14:56:19

Thank you! It was okay. Obviously there were tears from me and I missed them desperately but my boys coped well. My youngest (8 months) was teary on and off but easily distracted but slept well etc. My older son who is two and half didn't seem to really be fussed either way which was good. Only issue we had was that my youngest refused to drink any of the milk I left or really anything else all day, but I remember my first doing this for the first week or so until he got settled.

I like being at work and I like using my brain and going to long lunches, toilet breaks alone, drinking hot cups of tea and being me. I just personally struggle with the journey home and racing home each night in a desperate attempt to make sure I see them. I don't get in until 6:20 and they are both in bed, asleep by 6:45 so feeling like I am being a mum to both of them is hard

I don't know if you have heard of that saying about when you become a mother it is to forever have your heart wonder outside your body and that is kinda how I feel. My physical body and brain go out to work but my heart stays at home and I just feel incomplete all day, but when I walk through the front door and hold my boys, it's like I am whole again.

I know all of this will get easier. I can face time and call my two year old and he gets it, so I know when I can do that also with my youngest I won't feel so guilty. Guilt, guilt, guilt. Story of my life. Here is a funny website that is just so true

http://hurrahforgin.com/2016/07/07/the-shitty-guilt-fairy/

LizWatson1986 Fri 29-Nov-19 15:01:31

Oh and no I don't sleep! My first was terrible and so is youngest so it's been about three years since I last had a good night.

However I do find a day in the office less tiring than a day at home and I'm giving our youngest to my husband when I can take any more wake-ups. We average about 6 a night still 🥴

hellspyjamas Fri 29-Nov-19 15:28:16

Thanks for sharing your experience I really appreciate it. Gosh 6 wake ups a night sounds really tough! I'm kind of looking forward to being able to go to the loo and have a hot coffee but really not looking forward to the guilt! I will get home around that time too. Are there other parents at work that get it and do you have a supportive manager? X

stackhead Fri 29-Nov-19 18:07:25

I'd love to keep this going for support that's a lovely idea @hellspyjamas

I'm looking forward to getting me back. Using my brain. Going to the toilet with the door closed! grin

I start on the 6th. Already counting down. but at least we'll have a lovely Christmas break.

I'll get home at about 6.40 provided the trains run on time. We've just moved her bedtime to 7.30 and I've already spoken to my husband about not having it too much earlier for a while so I get some cuddles in after work.

LizWatson1986 Fri 29-Nov-19 20:16:57

I wish we could change my youngest's bed time!My first used to be a 7:30pm baby but my youngest prefers an earlier bed time and won't stay asleep past 6am so changing it just never seems to work! Am looking forward to him being able to stay awake a little longer

In answer to your question, at my last job, no not really. Our CEO was insane and just worked like 18hrs a day, 6 days a week and expected much the same of us. My team lead however was more understanding and always had my back. My new job people all have kids and are much more understanding.

The best piece of advice I have had is that you should just set your boundaries early on and be clear and confident about them and don't waver. Ive said that I need to leave at 5pm to get home and see my boys and that is essential. I can pick up emails and do more work when they have gone to bed but me leaving at 5pm is non-negotiable (obviously if essential I can stay later).

Before having kids I used to work insane hours and weekends etc and honestly, that's been really difficult for me to feel confident not doing that and not feeling like I am slacking.

I would REALLY recommend a book called 'The fifth trimester' it's full of useful tips and stories from other mother's.

I am honestly amazed at how little help, support and information there is for women returning to work, like nothing!

stackhead Sun 01-Dec-19 12:28:27

I'm starting a new job but from the sounds of it my new company are really supportive. One of the higher ups, a lovely woman, works term time only and my direct line manager is really flexible about my working hours. So fingers crossed it'll be ok.

My old company would not have been supportive, very city focused and all about the hours present and after work activities.

hellspyjamas Mon 02-Dec-19 10:06:33

I agree there is literally nothing out there. I'm currently panicking because my daughter will not take formula no matter what I try and realistically it will be difficult to express at work (only one other woman has ever done it where I work and she uses the sick room). I'm going to ask to leave early every day then log on when baby is asleep for another couple of hours. No idea how I am going to take care of myself ever! I think waking up early might be the key. She still is up every few hours at night so it's going to be knackering!

LizWatson1986 Fri 06-Dec-19 15:22:16

I express in the toilets. I bring some hand gel in with me and once seated clean my hands with the gel before touching my equipment and keep all my equipment on my lap so it doesn't touch the flior. The alternative was a meeting room with three glass walls 😲. I know legally companies have to provide you with somewhere but I work for a tiny startup in a shared workspace so I don't know how that would work.

I've been back two weeks now and all in all going well. My youngest won't drink a drop during the day of my milk, water juice and we've tried different bottles, cups, spoons - not interested so I'm feeding him through the night. Every single wake up which is about 7 a night. Gosh I yearn for sleep!

stackhead Fri 06-Dec-19 21:42:02

Oh my goodness you must be exhausted!

My daughter has always been bottle fed so no issues there. I know my husband is going to do a sterling job. It's just me I'm worried about.

hellspyjamas Fri 06-Dec-19 23:17:44

Oh my goodness @LizWatson1986 how on earth are you going to keep that up? Also can't they black out the glass for you on the meeting room?

Nevernotrenovating Sat 07-Dec-19 18:56:03

Wanted to add to this as a mum of 3 (aged 5, 4 and 2) now working full time since youngest was 10 months. I work in construction. I can relate to a lot of this. Their dad looks after them full time, school run and looking after youngest. I find it incredibly hard to not be the one at home - keeping the house nice(!!) - I am very conflicted about that as I am very interested in my career and need to feel part of the world as you do when you work. I was part time before that, WFH and only a day a week. Returning full time last year was brutal. I loved time to myself. I loved earning money and the self esteem that goes with that. I want to make a difference by doing my work. But I miss the children so much and I’ve got much less patient with them. I feel like these years would be hard whatever I did and on balance I’m doing the right thing. I found it useful to have sessions with a productivity coach to talk about confidence in the workplace and the transition to FT work. It definitely helped.

LizWatson1986 Sun 08-Dec-19 20:06:16

I have no idea how I am actually alive on so little sleep. Pre-children I would have said I needed at least 10hrs to feel really refreshed now if I get 4 solid hours I am buzzing!!!

I think it's hard no matter what you do really. You stay at home, you feel like you should be working and earning, you go out to work and you feel guilty for not being home.

I think we just need to remember that we are doing what we feel is best for our children. We all love our children and they feel it, and that's important to keep top of mind. Becoming a mother I think you realise how resilient and adaptable you are. It's tough at the start for sure but once you have established a new norm I know it becomes easier.

At the end of the day, for me at least, I can't change my situation so it's all about trying to make the most of it and focusing on the positives.

hellspyjamas Mon 09-Dec-19 11:07:11

That's really inspiring from both of you thank you for sharing. I feel like she is so little at 6 months to be left alone, and she's started refusing bottles again! I think part time would be ideal, really hope I will be in a position to do that someday. Wish I got to be the one to stay home too. I feel exactly the same with the 4 hours! It's not happened in a while but love it when it does. Construction must be knackering? I'm lucky that I do a desk job but there is so much business travel ☹️

LizWatson1986 Mon 09-Dec-19 16:17:55

I felt excatly the same going back with my first. I remember sitting holding him while he slept, sobbing as I looked down at this tiny, beautiful baby and thought how am I going to leave you, you're so tiny?

I remember reading in the book I recommend a woman saying that it was like defying nature, cutting an invisible cord that links you, and how it goes against everything in your body. That is excatly how I felt.

BUT it's that first day and week that's the hardest and with each passing week she will get older and it WILL get easier. They are so adaptable.

I really wish I could take your pain away. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, returning to work, but I survived and so will you. I just wish I could show you yourself in a few months, settled in your new life and you could see that it isn't as bad as you fear.

Nevernotrenovating Wed 11-Dec-19 06:44:18

Exactly as you said LizWatson1986 - it is just like you describe- instinct is a powerful force. It does not feel right to leave your baby even for a few hours and I believe very strongly in trusting your intuition. The book you recommended definitely sounds one to read.

This is what got me through, it is very personal advice that worked for me, and some days will be better than others:
- Take it one day at a time. I found early motherhood shifted my thinking to black and white, potential disaster scenario, emotional reasoning. Nothing you decide now, needs to be forever, it is just what you decided now.
- There aren’t right or wrong answers. Be aware of the moral societal pressures that accompany any decision a woman makes. Do what makes sense to you.
- This is far harder than any professional challenge and you will grow into a far stronger, more resilient, more capable person whatever happens in the next few weeks and months.
- After a few weeks getting into a routine, look how far you will have come- it might be easier than you thought.
- Get support and advice about breastfeeding. I don’t remember the details of how I managed but would breastfeed at night. In my experience and from what I’ve read, babies are very different with mum (refuse bottle etc) whereas with another carer will calm down and drink from the bottle. As I said get some advice on that one.
- Overall you are doing yourself and your family a great service by going to work. It’s a good thing to do. Staying at home to look after your children is a good thing to do too. There are different options. Consider what you want to do, and go for it, always remembering you can change that in future.

Nevernotrenovating Wed 11-Dec-19 07:28:17

Another thing.

Worth mentioning that I am very consistent over my hours- arrive and depart at times that work for me . 8.30-4.45 with lunch at my desk. Eat plenty to keep energy levels up. I don’t go to the after work drinks or the Christmas parties. Right now it’s hard enough to go to work away from my family.

hellspyjamas Sat 21-Dec-19 16:30:45

I'm so glad I joined this thread to talk to you ladies, it's really made me feel so much better already!
I wonder if motherhood has made either of you think about a career change? I love my job but can't help wondering if another one would be more suitable.

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