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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.

DontmindifIdo Mon 16-Sep-13 14:41:55

Agree with others, keeping in touch with colleagues, going in to have lunch one day with your work friends to hear the gossip, helps make you still feel part of the team.

If you can afford it, get your DC in the childcare you'll be using for a week before you return (or longer) - I did this by accident as I organised a place at nursery for the December but in the end I took off work until mid-January. I put DS in 2 mornings a week for December after all, it helped me get used to leaving him as well as him getting used to being there. I was very emotional the first couple of times I left him, so much better I was having that angst in the supermarket than at work trying ot concentrate.

Trial runs from childcare to train station or work is important. (I know it's exactly 14 minutes from the door of DS's nursery to being on the platform at my station).

trinitybleu Mon 16-Sep-13 17:20:02

Start baby at Nursery early. I sent my daughter 1 morning a week for a month, then 1 day, 2 days, and finally 3 days before I started work, so she was well settled and I was happy with her care, meaning no worries about her on my first day.

CatFromAcrossTheRoad Mon 16-Sep-13 19:49:55

1. Spend as much time as needed on finding the right childcare solution. It is a lot easier to leave when baby is happy!
2. Start settling in about 2 weeks before first day back. It might cost a bit, but in the long run it is money well spent.

1. Online grocery shopping. Actually online shopping for just about everything. With clothes, stick to the brands you know so sizing is easier (e.g. Always uniforms from m&s, baby clothes from boots, own clothes from Next etc)
2. Buy in as much services as you can afford even just in the short term. Cleaning is often the first one...
3. Accept that dinner can be good and nutrious even if it is just scrambled eggs on toast with some veg. It does not have to be a proper meal every dinner time. And use Cook as a back up.
4. Get a haircut that is easy so you don't need to spend ages on doing your hair every day.
5. Get some nice house outfit you can wear in the morning until 5 minutes before you leave and potentially change into when you are back. This way you dont have to change clothes because of baby breakfast down your skirt, and you might even get a couple a wear out of your work clothes ( obviously depending on what item and your line of work).

1. Request flexible working even if do the same number of hours
2. Ensure that you get some time, maybe 2-3 weeks to get back in the swing of things before things get too busy.
3. Ensure that you have some ways of moving the conversation on from your baby when colleagues. Everyone will ask, but people are normally not that interested in what exactly you are weaning baby so try to have some 'moving on' questions so you do not get known as the one who only talks about her kid.
4. See it as a new job to some extent. Some things would have changed while you have been away so take your time to get used to the new ways.
5. Enjoy the peace...

LadyIsabellaWrotham Mon 16-Sep-13 20:15:22

Top tips:

A lot of women think good childcare => nursery, but do look into childminders as well because they can be better, more flexible and cheaper.

If you are planning on recruiting a nanny leave yourself plenty of time to interview lots of candidates - don't get depressed if you see a load of unsuitable people at first, hold out for the person who is just right for your family.

Lots of other people have said this but I agree, do not underestimate how much time off sick a child at nursery will need. Have plans B, C and D.

Oh and don't move out to commuterville if you can help it. Bigger houses are not worth an extra hour each day away from your children (especially if you're going to have to pay for childcare while you do it, and especially if it will mean you not being able to use standard childcare). I know other people may disagree, but that's my opinion.

GetKnitted Mon 16-Sep-13 21:00:18

top tip is that getting ready in the morning starts the night before! sandwiches, school bags, nappy bags, work bags, what's for dinner tomorrow?, then money, phone, keys (like before you had children!)

Dylanlovesbaez Mon 16-Sep-13 21:13:14

If you have any kit days, really try and take them and spread them out if possible. Check out childcare options well in advance and have a few settling sessions. Don't be hard on yourself, it's so easy to feel the guilt when going back to work but try not to beat yourself up.
I absolutely dreaded it but dd loves nursery and I'm actually loving work.

k8vincent Mon 16-Sep-13 22:59:40

I went back to work part time between DS1 and DS2. Whilst I had been on maternity leave there had been a change of head at my school and the standards of behaviour had really deteriorated. I found it an enormous struggle. There were many days when I wondered whether I had lost all ability to do my job. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I was already pregnant with DS2 and therefore only had to work a term to cover my previous maternity leave. Fortunately DH worked nearby, so we found a nursery we could both get to.

Last Sept I went back to work full time - DS3 now 3 1/2. In between DS2 and DS3 we moved back to home town, where we have super parents who are willing to help with childcare. We are really fortunate - I know not everyone lives close to or has willing parents who can help. Having their support has meant that I could go back to work and concentrate on getting my confidence back without worrying about my children.

I adopted same policy with myself as with kids. Clothes out night before, lunches sorted, bags packed, coffee flask ready. It makes mornings less stressful, especially in that first few weeks. I also try to enjoy the weekends together and not feel guilty about the fact I should be doing housework.

NotCitrus Mon 16-Sep-13 23:40:18

My lifesavers: keeping cereal, clean top, and jewellery in my locker at work. Getting 1 and then 2 children to nursery in time for breakfast was fine if I didn't try to have some at home myself.

Clean top for when you get snot on just as you leave the children, and also for when you have a nap on the floor of the loo and then find they've cut the cleaning budget. Sometimes half an hour sleep is the most productive thing you can do after some sleepless nights.

Find other parents at work to talk to about arranging work and childcare, particularly in large places where some managers will be a lot more amenable than others.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Tue 17-Sep-13 08:03:37

We moved around a lot after DD1 and by the time we settled down and I found a job I'd been out of work for two years. I definitely think its easier to go back to work in a familiar environment. I was working somewhere completely new, with new colleagues and new ways of doing things and it took me a few months to find my way around and feel confident again. Having 2 years off also made my skills pretty rusty, so I didn't feel that I was fully up to speed for a very long time.
I'd recommend returning to work part time at first if at all possible because it's a lot more stressful than you think and it helps to ease back in to it.
Have a good lead in time with your childcare so you have time to feel confident that your child is happy. You don't want to be worrying about that too.

DontmindifIdo Tue 17-Sep-13 09:08:25

oh and another one, no matter how tired you are, or hard it was to leave your baby that morning crying, you don't whinge about it at work. This can be tough, but in a lot of places, woman are seen as being 'uncommitted' when you come back from maternity leave.

A very senior working mother told me early on in my career that men taking time off to go see their children's Christmas play are seen as 'great family guys' - woman doing the same are 'uncommitted to work' or 'this isn't their priority anymore'. she would book time off, but wouldbe quiet about it being for child related things. In the last decade or so things have improved in the workplace, but still some do view woman as less productive/able after having DCs - don't give those people ammunition.

Touche eclat and coffee are your friends.

gruber Tue 17-Sep-13 09:43:11

Have a list for you & baby of what you both need for the day by the front door so you can check on the way out, e.g. Baby: change bag, coat, hat, food, milk, buggy
Me: jacket, breast pump, lunch, keys

I found this vital!! Saves a last minute panic when you arrive at child care without DS change bag, or at work with no lunch...

MaddAddam Tue 17-Sep-13 11:09:53

My absolute most useful tip from a friend who'd had a baby the year before - if you are breastfeeding, get the baby used to express milk in a bottle, once a day, from before 6 weeks old. After that they get entrenched and I've known so many women struggle with a baby who won't take a bottle. If you DO want or have to go back to work and you DO want to keep breastfeeding then it's worth getting this sorted really soon. Life will be a lot simpler and you'll be able to breastfeed forever, if you like, as well as go to work, if you can sort the expressing-bottle-someone else giving it to the baby dynamic.

Next best tip. Get your DH/DP used to the idea that they will have to pick up some of the slack around the house that maybe on maternity leave you got used to doing.

Then, lower your housework standards.

Then. Remember the good bits about work. For years one of my favourite times of the week was 9am on a Monday morning, just me, a good cup of coffee and my computer at work. No yelling, screaming, nappies. There are some positives to being at work sometimes.

prettybird Tue 17-Sep-13 11:39:16

I agree with that bit of advice MadAddam - the bfc counsellor midwives who helped me with ds gave me that one. Ds was always happy with either ebm or direct from source wink.

One of the best bits of advice I got from my best friend who had had her kids a long before me and who always seemed to have her full time work and parenting well balanced (and her 4 kids have grown up into lovely young people) was to book a holiday for a few months after you start back at work (especially if you are going back full time). You don't even need to go away - it just gives you something to look forward to and gives you time to re-set, re-focus and re-organise if you need to.

The other thing that both she and my mum encouraged me to do was to menu plan for the week ahead. Your head is buzzing with so many things to remember that you don't need to be wondering about what the hell you're going to be cooking that night.

My friend also said she would wear something two days in row - again one less thing to think about. I couldn't quite bring myself to do two days in a row, but would alternate a couple of outfits which meant I only had to think of something 3 days out 5.

Little things but they all add up.

MissRee Tue 17-Sep-13 12:50:36

Is/was this the case for you?

Not really, I only had 6 months off post-birth and fell straight back into the routine of it all.

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

Nothing really, no matter what is done to help you feel more relaxed, it's all down to the person, I think.

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

My partner sent me a big bunch of flowers on my first day back, thanking me for being so amazing grin

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

Take it in your stride. It's not going to be easy but it does make the time you spend with your baby much more special, I think. You value what little time you do have with them.

DontmindifIdo Tue 17-Sep-13 13:45:45

oh yes, a few weeks before the return to work, go through your wardrobe, try on outfits, see what still fits/flatters your new body shape (although I officially weighed hte same as before I got pregnant, my boobs, waist, hip, thighs ratios had changed). Put together outfits on hangers next to each other, so you just don't have to think.

DuelingFanjo Tue 17-Sep-13 14:10:57

RE the breastfeeding. I managed to keep breastfeeding without introducing a bottle but DS was able to use a beaker by the time he went into daycare at 9-10 months. Check out that there is a place to pump and store your breast-milk, or if you are lucky enough to be near the childcare provider ask your employer if they will allow you to go to the baby. I am very lucky to be less than a five minute walk away from my son's nursery.

filimou Tue 17-Sep-13 14:31:39

Is/was this the case for you?

Yes, but I think it wasn't really helped by post natal depression

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

Not putting too much pressure on myself, I was sure that I could still give work 100% and still be a great mum and keep an immaculate house. I needed to learn to go easier on myself.

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

My husband took on more resposnibility and didnt complain when I whinged......
Work made it easier by keeping in touch, but you have to remember that is a two way street. It was also nice to come back to a work lunch to help catch up with colleagues in a really informal setting and it helped make me feel like part of the team.

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

Always make sure you are happy with your childcare choices, take however long you need to get that right as you will drive yourself crazy with worry if you have any niggling doubts.
Dont be too hard on yourself and don't be afraid to say no. No-one will think badly of you, you just have different priorities now.

starlight36 Tue 17-Sep-13 14:55:58

Try and share the childcare drop off / pick ups with your partner, if this is possible at all. That way both of you are working parents and the onus isn't just on you to be Supermum combining parenthood and work. When our DD was ill we would sit down and work out who was best placed to stay at home depending on both of our work commitments. This not only helped my sanity but gained brownie points with colleagues too.

Always have wet wipes in your handbag to clean off the inevitable snot / cereal stain you will get just as you say goodbye to your DC.

Either hire a cleaner or lower your standards - we opted for the latter! You'll be too tired in the evenings or will want to spend as much time catching up on fun as possible over the weekends.

Jenijena Tue 17-Sep-13 17:10:02

If its right for your family, look at the statutory parental leave available. My husband and I did this, and it made a huge difference to going back to work (although he was just as nervous about going back to work as I was!). Just as everything changes in the early days of babyhood, so life changes as a working parent. Don't stress the small stuff, and think about workarounds - I'm an expert in meals ready within 15 months of getting home.

Know that most employers don't live up to your expectations for going back to work. Set firm boundaries for work and home, and stick to them.

don't cry through your last month of maternity leave in dread of going back to work. enjoy the time you have. Remind yourself that going back to work gives you money to live off/an opportunity to wear clean clothes/the chance for adult conversation/space to remember that you are not just a parent,.

finally, just occasionally, plan some time for you. For me it was taking a day off near my birthday and going to the cinema by myself during the day. I felt terribly guilty about leaving my son in nursery that day - but I was a happier, more relaxed person for it.

whattodoo Tue 17-Sep-13 17:14:50

Take advantage of KIT days.
Have a new outfit for first day back (if appropriate).
Don't chat too much about DC.
Start as you mean to go on regarding time keeping - ie if you need to leave 5pm prompt, then do so.
If you're returning part time, show a willingness to be flexible when possible.
Have a stock of meals frozen.
Don't cry when leaving DC at childcare. Give them the biggest smile at pick up.
Don't be devastated if they happily rush to their childcare provider or are reluctant to leave at end of day.
Try to do chores/housework as you go along during the week, so weekends are just for fun.

prettybird Tue 17-Sep-13 17:25:17

The other thing is: don't feel guilty if you don't feel guilty confusedwink

I never did: I went back to work ft when ds was 4.5 months old (if you wanted you old job back, you only got 4 months mat leave 13 years ago) and he went in to the child minder's with a smile - and came out with a smile. smile

He went to be a wee bit later - at 8, so I could enjoy some time with him.

LittleBallOfFur Tue 17-Sep-13 19:55:21

I was really anxious about going back to work. What helped me was thinking of it as something 'just for me' - little things like buying a few new nice pieces to wear, feeling groomed (after not feeling groomed for a year - I didn't care when I was on mat leave!) so doing my nails, hair. It helped me get a bit more excited about it.

I also met with my boss a couple of times and a lunch with my old team which got me back in to that frame of mind. I was lucky that I went back to my old job as once I was there it felt like I'd never been away. I also negotiated with my boss for working hours that suited me - finishing slightly earlier so that I still had a good few hours of the day to spend with DS.

I was also still breastfeeding, so I'd get home and have lovely snuggles with DS and reconnect, I think that was really valuable for both of us.

It is nerve wracking going back, but I'm glad I did as I feel really confident and like the structure my life has, and the time to focus on myself.

nearlyreadytopop Tue 17-Sep-13 20:31:21

for me getting organised was key, first childcare that we were both happy with.
I kept in touch with my boss and friends from work by email/text and met for lunch before I went back.
I had loads of leave accumulated so could work 4 day weeks for a few months.
I would also add that the reality of being back at work was much nicer than I thought possible.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Tue 17-Sep-13 21:45:29

Agree with prettybird about not feeling guilty about leaving your DC. I actually found my days at work were a bit of a break and I was finally getting some 'me' time!

Theimpossiblegirl Tue 17-Sep-13 21:53:41

I find it helps to have our bags packed, lunch made and clothes laid out the evening before, no matter how tired I am. I've been doing this since my two were babies and I first went back to work and still do it now.

Now they sleep in more I get up and shower/dress before they are up. That way I get a bit of time to myself and feel more ready.

Having a childminder that will dress them and give them breakfast was also a life saver when they were small.

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