Does your stomach churn when you count the days until your maternity leave is over? Follow our easy tips to become a confident and happy working mum returning to work
1 Sort your work wardrobe worries
Chances are, like most of us mums, you won’t be ready to get back into your pre-baby clothes before you go back to work. Fret not, however – you can now buy ‘fourth trimester’ clothes.
Isabella Oliver’s range has transitional maternity wear alongside nursing pieces, to make feeding as stress-free as possible and flatter any extra baby weight.
“Tunic lengths, luxurious draped fabrics and flared skirts are great for this ‘fourth trimester’ period,” say Baukjen De Swaan Arons and Vanessa Knox-Brien, co-founders of the company.
2 Ease separation anxiety – for both of you!
Prepare yourself, there are likely to be tears – yours and your baby’s. “When I dropped Beth at nursery the first time, she cried,” says mum Carly Matthews, 29, from Cardiff. “I tried to stay calm, made my goodbye short and left, although she was still crying. I felt awful, but as soon as I’d gone she settled.”
To help ease your anxiety when your baby gets upset, find the best childcare you can, says Tracey Godridge, co-author of How to Be a Great Working Mum. “Even if it means paying a bit more or travelling a bit further, if you feel confident your baby is in a loving and secure environment, leaving her will be much easier.”
3 Know your childcare choices
Nursery? Nanny? Nana? There’s no easy answer – apart from the one that’s right for you and your baby.
Day nurseries take babies all day and may offer early drop-offs or late pick-ups, but are expensive, often charge ‘late’ fees and won’t take your child if he’s ill. To help with the cost, see if you’re entitled to childcare vouchers.
With a nanny, your baby is in the comfort and security of his own home and has loads of one-to-one attention. The downside is it can be costly, plus you need to find someone you can trust completely.
Grandparents will often help out, but while they may do it for love rather than money, it’s important to be sure they’re capable and happy to do it.
For help deciding what childcare would suit your needs, so our in-depth advice on day nurseries, childminders, home childcarers, nannies, kinship care and au pairs.
4 Ease yourself back into work
“Use the 10 ‘keep in touch days’ offered by the government,” says Patricia, 29, mum to Abi, 1. “These were great for breaking me in gently, as I was an extra member of staff so I could catch up at my own pace.” When you go back, trust your choices – your confidence won’t improve if you continually seek colleagues’ approval.
5 Brush up your skills
Go on a refresher course – to brush up your IT skills, for example – to give you a great confidence boost. There are lots of basic computing and office-skills courses available at local adult education colleges.
Als talk to friends who’ve already gone back to work and who can provide lots of reassurance.