Going back to work and finding a balance is really hard. Lauren Taylor gathers advice from other mums.
Stacey Solomon has admitted she is “nervous” about returning to work after maternity leave.
The Loose Women presenter is returning to TV just three months after giving birth to her daughter Rose on October 4.
Solomon shared photos of her newborn daughter on social media and wrote:
“I love my job so so much but oh my gosh I’m sad that my maternity leave is almost over. I’m getting so nervous to go back.”
She is also a mum to son Rex with fiance Joe Swash, and sons Zachary, 13, and Leighton, nine, from previous relationships.
She also posted a video collage from when Rose was born, and added:
“I’m so grateful to have had these beautiful months but why oh why does it go so quick? It’s been the most magical three months Rose.”
Whether it’s a few months or a whole year, leaving your child to return to work is a huge moment, and the adjustment can be really tough – it can take months to get into the swing of being a working parent and understand what that means for your work self, family life and personal time.
We asked mums for their one piece of advice about returning to the world of work.
1. “Don’t underestimate the skills you’ve learned while you’ve been off and how they’ll contribute to your role. All that time transforming into a mum and all it brings, like empathy, efficiency and problem solving, all make you more valuable at work – not less!” says Amy Parry, 39.
2. “Hold your boundaries. If you are going back part time and being paid part time, then work part time! I agreed in advance that I would get paid overtime for any extra hours I worked and I’m really glad I did,” says Sarah Mortimer, 32.
3. “Take each day as it comes and accept that some days will feel easier than others. I suffered from severe separation anxiety after returning to work. Having a good support network around you of fellow mums in a similar situation will be a big help in making those harder days that bit more bearable. Make sure you don’t book yourself up with lots to do at weekends whilst you adjust, as this time will become even more precious,” says Nicola J Rowley, 47, founder of NJRPR and author of The Power Of PR (out January 12).
4. “Don’t underestimate how hard it will be to fit everything in. I tried to do too much [at first]. The extra time I used to have, I just didn’t have anymore, because of nursery runs, toddler tea time, baby laundry, feeding etc. I was totally frazzled! I needed to divide up more of the household chores with my partner, have a conversation with work about workload, and drop morning breastfeeds so I could run before work. It’s not that I’m less capable, but I had to recognise my time outside of work is more pressurised now – which might mean work has to come second sometimes,” says Gemma Sargent, 36.
5. “Outsource as much as funds will allow. You literally can’t do everything. Whether that’s hiring a cleaner or having someone to help with washing or childcare, so you can spend the limited time you now have doing things you love, like being with your child,” says Hollie Grant, 35, of The Bump Plan.
6. “Remember things didn’t stand still while you were away. The company, clients, your colleagues will all have evolved, so go in with an open mind and be willing to learn – but remember that you aren’t necessarily ‘behind’, you just need to catch up. When I returned, I really struggled with confidence, but I had amazing people who reminded me that my strengths and skills were still there – my experience wasn’t taken away from me; my tenure, my knowledge all stayed in tact. And I picked up more skills in my year off too – perseverance, patience and understanding!” says Naomi Dowrick, 33.
7. “Put your own health on the priority list. It’s very easy to put everyone else’s needs before your own when you become a multitasking working ‘super mum’. When I went back to work after having my first child, I was knocked for six with chest infections. Make sure you take time to eat healthily, workout and breathe – having zero time for yourself just seems to happen when you’re juggling everything. If you have a partner, ask them to be in charge of making nutritious packed lunches or dinners (or at least share the load), diarise time for exercise (even if it’s a walk with your little one) and meditate before bed, so you sleep well,” says Claire Richardson, 42.
8. “Don’t be afraid to call the nursery or childminder for reassurance. A lot of babies that were born during lockdown didn’t get things like ‘stay and play’ at nursery, and are only used to the faces in their household. This can create more anxiety for both mother and child, so feel free to call the setting where your child is to get some reassurance. This will help during your day, and help you to focus on work,” says Fiona Small, 42, of the Young Mums Support Network (ymsn.co.uk).