Ask around at baby group and you’ll be hard pushed to find a mum who isn’t a bit scared by the thought of going back to work. “It can be incredibly emotional leaving your baby,” says Gillian Nissim, founder of www.workingmums.co.uk. “Some mums feel guilty about it and others feel less confident about being in an office since having a baby.”
If you’re about to head back to the working world, don’t panic just yet. With a little planning, it can be a breeze for all involved.
Will job prospects for women suffer or is 20 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave a valuable idea?
The week before…
Do a dry run
It’s important to settle yourself, your partner and tot into the new routine before you head back. “Do a day as you would when you’re back at work, from minor details like what you have for breakfast to dropping your baby off,” suggests Antonia Chitty, author of Family Friendly Working (www.familyfriendly working.co.uk).“This will reassure you that you can manage your working week, and show you that your baby will be fine too.”
“It’s also a good idea to practise your route a few times, double checking your train times or any road works that might slow you down on your first day,” says Gillian.
“While sorting your baby out might be at the forefront of your mind before you start back, it’s also important to make time for yourself in your last few days,” says Antonia. “Hit the high street to stock up on a new work wardrobe. Since you were last in the world of 9 to 5, your figure might have altered so you’ll want something that fits and that you’re comfortable in.” Your boobs, in particular, will have changed shape if you’ve been breastfeeding or expressing milk, so it’s worth being measured for a new bra.
Share the night shift
If you’re normally the one that gets up in the night for your baby as dad has a day job, it’s time to start sharing. Before you go back, get your partner to do a few of the 2am feeds and changes so your baby gets used to seeing him during the night.
Plan for illness
Have a contingency plan ready in case your baby or childminder is sick. The last thing you want on top of a poorly child is the added stress of not knowing who can look after her in a crisis. “Call on fellow mums if you can, and ask any that aren’t going back to work if they could be your emergency cover,” suggests Antonia. “In return, make yourself available to help them at weekends, or offer to babysit once a month to say thanks.”