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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

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.

helsbels03 Sat 14-Sep-13 22:44:26

When you go back to work, remember you are not the same person you used to be, you have to split your priorities, sometimes at work good enough is , good enough, you don't need to excel at everything all of the time. I found that the hardest bit, being so used to being in thd thick of everything- part time means it is more difficult to bd that same person. Also my other tip is to pay for 15 mins more child care than you think you will need each day so you are not constantly late or the last mum there or driving like a maniac to pick up.

lorisparkle Sat 14-Sep-13 23:53:38

I wish I had used the 'staying in touch days'. My place of work is quite a trek from where we live and I found it a real struggle to go in with the baby to visit and 'show him off' and then nearer the time I really did not want to go in. When I did start back although they paid me as if I was doing my former job two of my colleagues had taken on my jobs so I had very little to do and no real base. Once doing my job I found it was like riding a bike but as I have been on maternity leave as much as I have been in the job and now work part time I have never really got into the swing of my workplace. This does not really bother me though as I love being a mum and see that as my career at the moment.

Top tips would be to have confidence that it will all fall into place when you return. I think that if you look like you know what you are doing - dress and 'hold yourself' as if you are on top of everything - then things always go better.

Iwaswatchingthat Sun 15-Sep-13 10:12:29

Get a slo cooker and shove something in it before you leave for work (chop veg the night before). You will be extremely grateful to yourself for doing so when you get home and remember you have made yourself a meal!!! Thank you me!!!

camtt Sun 15-Sep-13 17:43:17

Top tip: you need to be organised! I would lay out clothes and bag of spares for nursery the night before. I found it better to have the baby at nursery near my work as otherwise I would have had to leave later in the mornings and leave work earlier in the evenings. For me I prefer to reduce the stress that comes from wondering whether everyone else think you are shirking because you came in after they did and bolted from your seat at 5 so the extra time at work because of having nursery near work was great and also meant I was with DS more and he had a shorter day in nursery.

What did my colleagues do: This differed after each of my 3 pregnancies. The worst was when I returned two days a week and was bored witless having only non-challenging work, the best when I was thrown right back in and after a morning it felt as if I had never been away. Once, when a senior colleague suggested that I was now only capable of doing basic and straightforward work, I insisted otherwise and my boss backed me up - it was important to stand up for myself straight away to avoid being sidelined for ever more.

SaltySeaBird Sun 15-Sep-13 20:14:09

I had a short maternity leave as my employer made it clear that there would be problems if I wanted to be off longer. I wasn't happy with this but understood their reasons.

I still found it very difficult and did feel that I had lost a bit of confidence doing certain things. My tips would be:

1. If you work in an evolving industry keep up with professional blogs and news so you know what has been going on and any changes that may have happened while you were off.

2. Find out if any company processes have changed and ask if there have been any training sessions while you were off. Before you go back fully consider popping in for a training session or just to start clearing emails (like your DC having a settling in session).

3. Make an effort to keep work life very separate. Put on smart clothes, hair and make up. Make yourself feel professional and put yourself in the right mindset.

CozyOtter Sun 15-Sep-13 22:07:36

A slow cooker has been my godsend for going back to work!

So nice coming home to the smell of dinner cooking smile

Even better...I've made lovely chocolate bread and butter pudding in it - great for cold, wet nights!

BooMeowson Sun 15-Sep-13 22:47:47

I am told that it helps to remember that your child will benefit from having a different style of looking after sometimes. Sometimes you can be struggling with something (like potty training) and someone with a different take on it can make a big difference.

michelleblane Sun 15-Sep-13 23:14:58

Research child care early on. I decided on a child minder but the one recommended to me was already full. I went to visit another but did not feel she was what I was looking for. I began to run out of time but luckily found someone I was happy with and arranged a few 'trial runs' before I went officially back to work. Trial runs involved leaving him for one hour, then two hours and three hours in the three weeks before I went back. Before this, the childminder came and spent a morning with us at our home. This meant my son got used to her, and I had got to know her too.
Have a couple of trial runs at getting self and baby ready to leave home at the required time, remembering that the journey to work now involved dropping off baby and possibly a 10 minute chat!
Returning to work was very difficult, leaving my lovely son with someone else so it was the childcare aspect that was the most important to me,

DuelingFanjo Sun 15-Sep-13 23:46:16

Get everything you need for the morning sorted and prepared the night before.
Allocate roles to both parents, if one does most of the morning routine then the other should be responsible for baths in the evening.
Ignore anyone who tells you that your cold will be damaged b.y you working
Be prepared to be lulled I to thinking 'this is easy' and then realising that you're actually rather tired and also resentful. You may feel like your DP isn't pulling their weight and perhaps the months of maternity leave have meant that you have become responsible for more of the housework and childcare than you think is fair. Talk openly to your partner about what is making you feel down as well as doing things that make you feel good.

Spend the weekends doing amazing fun and funny stuff with your child. When you pick them up in the evening don't just rush the into the car, take them for a little walk, talk to them about their day, roll down grass, take them up and down steps.

Always keep a pair of Welles in the car.

DuelingFanjo Sun 15-Sep-13 23:49:41

Also be prepared for the first few weeks of childcare to leave you feeling like your heart is in your mouth. There will be days when you don't want to leave your childor your child won't want to leave you.

It will get better and thousands have done it before you.

Talk to other work mates who have children. The have done it before.

theignored Mon 16-Sep-13 01:13:08

i think accepting that returning to work after maternity leave will be hard is the first step.
I have a three yr old, four yr old and have just returned to work after having my 8 month old.
Work refused my request to reduce my hours, and really havent made an effort to welcome me back or ease me back into it. My first day back after a year off and I was left on my own for the entire shift!
Give yourself lots of time to arrange childcare, some childminders/nurseries book up a year in advance. Try use ones local to you, its just easier if your little one is ill or in bad weather.
Also remember to look at your rights on dependents leave, I have used annual leave in the past as I didnt know this was available.

MrsKwazii Mon 16-Sep-13 08:22:46

Have a plan A,B and even C in place (where possible) for covering sickness if your child cannot go into childcare - whether they are ill or a childminder is laid up if you're using one. If you have a working partner, make sure you both know how you can take leave to cover sickness - just because you're a mother it shouldn't automatically fall to you to cover short notice needs. Make sure you're both on the same page by talking about it in advance.

Cherrygrape Mon 16-Sep-13 09:34:33

Accept you can't do everything and meal plan

cleoowen Mon 16-Sep-13 10:15:48

About to start work after 9 month maternity leave so reading with interest. One thing that's helped me so far is trial days with the childminder.

worldgonecrazy Mon 16-Sep-13 10:33:43

The best thing I had for going back to work, was a team with other mums who had been through it. Having other women there who who were also full-time working mums made me feel supported and less alone.

Having a great support network at home helps too, but really, for that first day in the office, a cup of tea with sympathetic colleagues was the best boost I had.

BellaVida Mon 16-Sep-13 10:49:35

I have had to go back to work after each of my three of my children, but am a SAHM enjoying my fourth now smile

I made the mistake of thinking it would be easier after the first time- I was wrong!

I went back to the same job each time and luckily had several other colleagues with babies or very young children, so we moaned together regularly over coffee or lunch. It helped to know I wasn't alone.

My DH worked much further away, so I did almost all the nursery runs, but he was supportive when he got stressed & teary phone calls during those first weeks. It will get better and you are not a bad mother for going back to work.

On a practical level, make sure you have good, reliable childcare you are happy with. Organise, organise, organise, but still accept you will never be fully prepared, like the time I was carrying my DS into nursery and he promptly vomited all over himself and my hair & suit hmm

stealthsquiggle Mon 16-Sep-13 10:57:34

A few people have said it already, but I think I made the mistake of falling into a "SAHM" pattern where I did everything whilst on Mat Leave, and never really shook it off. Not that DH doesn't do stuff, he does - and he probably does more food shopping and cooking than I do, most weeks. It's the child logistics stuff - it's me that carries all their various arrangements in my head, sorts school stuff out, lays out clothes for them the night before, etc, and if I am away and DH is doing it then I will get "remote control parenting" texts at regular intervals. It would have been easier if this pattern had never got established (and then it got reinforced with DC2 being born as DC1 started school - clearly I don't learn from my mistakes hmm). I can see one of my best friends falling into the same trap ATM - even though she and her DH have always split chores equally, and with DC1 she was very firm and managed to suppress her control freak tendencies and leave DH to do stuff, now they have two small DC and she is that much more tired he is defaulting to the "oh it will work itself out" lazy laid back approach and she is in full on (self acknowledged) control freak mode, stressing about school places and how to cover the nanny's holiday and everything else.

As far as the actual going back to work process, I would say

- if you can afford it, get your childcare arrangements into place and running a few weeks before you go back - so that you and LO are in the swing of getting out of the house, and with luck have the first of the nursery bugs out of the way, before you add work into the equation.

- don't just focus on getting DC's stuff ready the night before. Make sure all of your stuff is laid out and ready to go - hunting for shoes is not what you want to be doing when you are running late.

- if practicable, wear an old jumper or something over the top of work clothes and don't put your makeup on until you have dropped LO off. Baby drool on your shoulder and smudged mascara do not set you up well for the work day.

manfalou Mon 16-Sep-13 11:04:59

My top tips for returning to work would be:

- Try and keep in touch with some of your colleagues. You'll want to keep up on changing procedures and ensure you don't feel like an 'outsider' when you go back. Unfortunately for me my place of work is renowned for having a high staff turn over and when I went back all of my previous colleagues had left without me knowing.

- If you're using childcare fully utilise the 'settling in sessions' that the nursery should offer. It means not only your child can get use to their new setting gradually but its a good way for mum to gradually introduce herself to leaving baby on a more regular basis than she's used to.

- On the weeks running upto going back to work practice your morning routine. If you need to get baby to childcare (wherever that may be) for 8:30 to get to work for 9 work out when things need to be done. Practice the morning drive... Can you remember how busy the roads are during school time in the morning? How long does it take to get from nursery to your work? Which is the best route? You don't want to be caught out on your first day because DC usually has breakfast at 8:15, then washed, clean nappy and clothed for 8:45 when now you need to start the routine 20-30 minutes sooner.

- Do not feel guilty about putting your child into a nursery if yo have to! Children LOVE going to nursery after the settling period as they can do so much more there than they can at home (Jumping in custard for example!). Remember its building up their social skills from a very early stage and once they start chattering away and start talking about their 'best friend' its lovely to hear. I'm now on maternity leave with DS2 but DS1 still goes to nursery because he wants to, not because he has to.

lottietiger Mon 16-Sep-13 11:27:53

Sorting out shorter hours or less days before i returned would have really benefitted me. I returned after 20 weeks to full time long hours and am now finding it hard to reduce my hours as my employer is used to five days per week. (Although it doesnt help that i work in the construction industry which is the worst for being mum friendly).In hindsight i should have organised flexible days before i returned, as i am finding it tough thinking of DS in long hours of childcare.

mrscog Mon 16-Sep-13 11:31:57

If you're sending your DC to nursery then get one that gives all 3 meals and snacks. That way on nursery days you only have to give your DC some milk/maybe a quick snack before bed and then just think about food for yourself/DP.

Also, brace yourself for your DC to be ill constantly for your first 5-6 weeks back at work, mixing with all those nursery germs wreaks havoc with them. DS was at home more than at nursery for my first 6 weeks back at work. Luckily my employer was very understanding - especially as I kept catching all these illnesses back off him!

asuwere Mon 16-Sep-13 12:32:34

I am due to return to work next week after having DC4. I've returned to the same place of work after each of the other DC, and each time has been different. My work is not good and has not helped - they have not been organised and my managers have changed while I was off without me being informed. To be fair, it is a huge office and there are regular changes while I'm there so it's just pretty normal for it to be a badly run place - it's not specific to being on maternity!

Each time, I have returned straight to full time hours and not prepared the child/me. I am pretty relaxed anyway and I've gone with the theory that if I've managed to have a baby and figure out how to deal with baby for several months, I can cope with going back to a place that I've worked for years. DH and I have always sorted our own childcare so when I'm working, he's at home (and vice-versa) so I don't really need to worry about DC being with anyone else. I think DH probably has a tougher time than I do when I'm working!

I would just say make sure you know childcare is set up and you're happy with it. Then just relax! I would also say that if you're breastfeeding, maybe remember to wear breastpads as wet patches aren't a good look and don't help you relax! smile

WowOoo Mon 16-Sep-13 13:01:52

Things that could have helped me relax more:
Fewer hours and days to begin with to ease the transition. I thought it was better to get stuck in, but really it took me and the children a while to get used to new routines.

What my partner did:
My partner did a massive amount of housework, cooking and cleaning to take the pressure of me for the first month. It was very stressful and I still wasn't happy so a lovely bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers was v thoughtful of him.

Those who'd been there were very kind. When anyone had a chance to leave early or for working at home they'd often let me if I wanted/needed to.

Top tips:
Just be mega organised. Use your smartphone for lists and reminders. Talking with the whole family about how things are going to change, but what things we have to look forward to.

maxmissie Mon 16-Sep-13 13:02:30

The most daunting things for me were leaving my children for the first time at nursery, when I left in tears, and thinking that I would have forgotten everything when I got back into work. It took me a few weeks to get back up to speed and find out new legislation/procedures but mostly it felt like I've never been away.

Definitely research child care a long way in advance of needing it. I know a few people that left looking at nurseries until a few months before they were due back at work and the nurseries didn't have enough places and so they had to extend their maternity leave. I was probably a bit OTT but looked round nurseries and booked a place when I was about six months pregnant!

If you are going part time then hopefully your employer will see the advantages of having a job share although this doesn't necessarily work for every job it does hopefully mean that between you the work of a full time person will be split evenly and you are not left with the expectation that you can do a full time job on part time hours (and pay!)

Also try and get flexible hours in terms of start and leaving time, rather than just focusing on the number of hours worked. Again this depends on where you work but as long as I did my required hours over three days I had flexibility over start/finish times and this is even more the case now the kids are at school.

Get organised so packed lunches, bags, clothes, shoes etc are all ready the night before or they are at least in one place.

Don't feel guilty for having to go back to work but do not feel guilty if you have to leave early to pick up sick children, go to hospital with them etc. I no longer worry about work or focus on it too much like I did before having kids. But it's easy to say this - the hardest thing for me is trying to get everything done in the time I have so I'm not worrying when I'm not at work about what I forgot to do! So I keep a note pad lying around so I can jot things down that I think of when I'm not at work!

DoItTooJulia Mon 16-Sep-13 13:47:54

Organisation is your friend. Well that show I am planning on tackling it!

I am going to do some batch cooking, make sure that all big items are laundered (curtains and coats etc) and get google calendars!

Hopefully it will be ok.

BeCool Mon 16-Sep-13 14:36:30

I felt a swirling mix of anger, anxiety, resentment and fear of how it was all going to work out before I returned to work. However it was lovely to be back and I clicked right back in on my return.

My TOP TIP is to have excellent child care in place - this was my number one support on returning to work (and still is 5 & 2 years later). When you trust that your children are well cared for and happy, you can focus on other things - like work!

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