Your return to work: Claire

Every month I publish a guest post from a mum who has been through returning to the workplace after maternity leave. We all have individual experiences, situations, ambitions and so on. There is no one way or right way, just what is best for you and your family. I hope by sharing a range of stories there will be something that mums on maternity leave and thinking about their return to work can relate to.
This post is written by Claire, a mum of two boys, Thomas aged 4 & Joshua 15 months. Claire returned to work when Joshua was 12 months. She works in Risk Management for a global financial institution in London. 

Question 1. How did you feel about your return to work in the lead up to it?

I was generally looking forward to getting back to work, although I would be lying if I said I didn’t have days when I wavered on this because I genuinely enjoyed both maternity leaves, it is such a special time and having gone back after my eldest son was born, I had an insight into how much of a juggle life was about to become again.

But ultimately, I was ready to fill my days with more than baby activities, the endless washing & running the home and was looking forward to adult conversation that didn’t include discussions about sleep habits, milestones and valued me beyond being a Mum. I was lucky that I had a supportive boss and was returning to my part-time hours in a job I was familiar with, but there had been a lot of changes to my team during my maternity leave that left me wondering what I would be returning to.

Question 2. What were the biggest challenges or worries that you had about your return to work?

My eldest son didn’t settle well at nursery and I was worried for a similar experience with Joshua, especially as he was a lot clingier as a baby by comparison. We were also settling both boys into new environments and routines with my eldest starting school and Joshua starting nursery at the same time, I worried about how both would adjust.

Despite my desire to go back to work, as my return to work got closer, I increasingly worried about how I would manage to stay on top of a demanding job as well as all that is needed at home and for the boys, but you very quickly adapt and learn to prioritise what is important and I think become more efficient with your time as a result.   

Question 3. Is there anything that would have helped your transition back to the workplace?

Mine and my husband’s working patterns have changed significantly since Covid-19, we work from home a lot more than ever before which has been a huge positive for us as a family. With this plus my eldest starting school we decided to change nursery’s to make things easier logistically when it came to the school run. Unfortunately, it wasn’t confirmed until 5 weeks before I started work that our preferred nursery had a place for Joshua.

Not knowing until so close to my return to work was stressful, we had to arrange a back-up option at late notice & when eventually we got a place confirmed it wasn’t for our preferred days, so it meant re-arranging childcare arrangements. Much of my last few weeks of maternity leave were spent worrying about where Joshua would go to nursery, the logistics of drop-off with two children in different locations, arranging back-up childcare or re-arranging prior plans! To have certainty earlier would’ve resulted in a more enjoyable end to my maternity.

Question 4. What tips would you give to other mums who are currently on maternity leave and preparing for their return to work?

  • Plan and prepare but be mindful you can’t control everything and plans may need to change.
  • You can put all the plans in place but there comes a point when you have to try it out, see how things work and adjust if necessary.
  • Once you are back at work there will be days when you will feel like you are not doing a very good job at home or at work. Be kind to yourself, its ok to need to prioritise one aspect of your life over another at times.
  • Set clear boundaries between work and your home life and try as hard as possible to stick to them (something that is still a work in progress for me!).

Thank you so much Claire!

I hope you found reading about Claire’s experience helpful. If you are on maternity leave and would like to return to work with confidence, you can get my free guide with some top tips so you can prepare yourself.
All the best,
PS. Do you know a mumma who might find this post helpful? Why not share it with her.

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