10 important tips for going back to work with as little stress as possible

  1. Give yourself some credit. You just created a whole new human and you’ve been keeping them alive. Try not to worry about the thought of going back to work. Your skills are still there and if some things have changed, you will pick them up quickly. You have a bunch of new skills now which will help you. It will get easier with time, even if it feels hard at the start. If you are getting through the job of being a mother then you’ll get through the job of being a working mother, after all, you’ve already done the ‘work’ part before and at least there’s a job description for that!
  2. Write a back to work plan. Tick off all the things you need to get done between now and returning to work including finding child care, talking to your work, working out a budget, getting your wardrobe sorted and labelling your child’s clothes for child care.
  3. Find dependable child care. A whole book could be written on the challenges of finding child care. My advice is start looking early. We know of some women who have literally posted their applications on the way home from the hospital. If that isn’t you, don’t fear, it is still possible! Treat looking for child care like a job. Investigate centres thoroughly. Put in applications for all the ones that look reasonable. Explore family day care in your area and if it is within your means, consider a nanny or sharing a nanny with other mothers you know. If you really keep at it, usually you can find child care. But we know it isn’t easy! If you get even a couple of days at a centre, take it even if the days aren’t perfect. You can start with a few and build or swap with others as they become available.
  4. Talk to your workplace about their expectations. How flexible are they willing to be? Will your hours be exactly the same? What are your options for using a breast pump (if you’ve decided to continue to breast feed). Try to arrange a transition day where you can pop in and understand the lay of the land before you have to be full throttle.
  5. Talk to other mothers about their experience about returning to work. It really is helpful to have a support network and to see what other people’s experiences of returning to work were like.
  6. Consider starting back half way through the week. It can be tiring and stressful going back and you might want to ease into it.
  7. Try not to stress too much about the child care arrangements. If you have done the work to find a suitable arrangement, back yourself to know what’s right for you. If it really doesn’t feel right, keep looking until you find the right arrangement.
  8. Feel free to check in with your child care centre or a carer at home. It’s normal to be concerned about your child, especially in the early days and there’s nothing wrong with a call or text to update you on how things are going.
  9. Try and find some time for you. It is stressful juggling. After the first week you may wonder how you will do it. See if you can get someone to help on the first weekend (or even several subsequent weekends) to give you a break. You are doing two jobs now, paid employment plus being a mother and it isn’t easy.
  10. Try not to feel guilty. Many mothers go back to work. Many CEOs and happy creative people (maybe even the majority) had mothers who worked. Going back to your job doesn’t make you a bad mother and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself at work and the mental stimulation of talking to adults again.

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.