After all that time off on maternity leave, and given you have just gone through the biggest transformation in your life - birthing a human being, it is natural to have a few (ok, more than a few... A LOT! of) things on your mind if you plan to go back to work.
I have been fortunate enough to meet and befriend Fiona Morrison when she attended my Balanced Babe Retreat. She is one amazingly self-aware mother who shares this knowledge plus lots of reviews and insights on her blog www.mummamorrison.com
I interviewed her as part of the development of my Balanced Babe RTW Mentoring Program to help new mothers manage the transition of going back to work with confidence and a clear conscience.
Here is what is going on inside the mind of a mum about to go back to work. Is this you?
When are you going back to work and what is the main reason?
I am going back to work in less than 2 weeks (end of July) after a year off for maternity leave. I have to go back to hold my permanent position as a teacher, as well as for financial reasons (a mortgage in Sydney is not cheap unfortunately!).
What will be your favourite memory of being home on parental leave?
I will definitely miss being at home full time with my little man. I really enjoyed watching him grow into such a happy and fun boy, and seeing his personality develop. My favourite memory will be our smiles and giggles over breakfast.
How easy will it be to leave/separate from your baby when you go to work?
I have already started experiencing some anxiety about returning to work and leaving him – not because I have trust issues for those taking care of him, but because of my own thoughts and feelings about leaving him. I know I will have some separation anxiety for the first few weeks, but I’m hoping that as I adjust to this new routine it will get easier over time.
What is your biggest fear going back to work - about work?
My job is fun and constantly changing, and there are always challenges – no 2 days are the same. I think I am worried about readjusting back into that environment, having to think on my feet (when I still suffer from serious baby brain!). Also working with varied personalities of children and the different scenarios in a school context.
It is also difficult knowing that my work is a fair commute – 1-1.5hrs each way. I think this ties in heavily with my fear about home (next question).
What is your biggest fear going back to work - about home?
Overall I think it is just a fear of missing out. Missing out on him learning something new (what if he started walking and I wasn’t there?!). Having been with him 24/7 for the past year, he has become my best friend and we have so much fun together. I fear missing out on that, or having our relationship change somehow.
What are you looking forward to about going back to work?
I’ve heard many people say they enjoy going back to work to feel more like an ‘adult’. Of course, I work with kids so part of that won’t be the same for me. I will enjoy catching up with my friends and colleagues as I have an amazing work environment, and I really do love being a teacher so I will enjoy the many aspects of that job that I love.
How supportive is your work to your situation?
Being a permanent teacher I am lucky to have a little bit of flexibility in regards to how I go back to work, and there has been an open dialogue from the beginning with my work about the number of days I return to work, etc. Even when I was pregnant, they were supportive in taking care of me. I am very luck to be in the work environment that I’m in!
How supportive is your family/partner to your situation?
My hubby understands that going back to work is going to be difficult for me. He has taken the first two weeks off to look after our son so that I can ease back into work knowing that they are having some good “father/son” bonding time. We also have an open dialogue about how my work might look in a year or so time, which is great.
How well prepared are you to go back to work?
I attended a planning meeting a couple of weeks before my scheduled return to work, which I think was helpful in getting me ready for the transition. I’ve also been in constant communication with my colleagues about workload (as a part time teacher), which has helped reduce some stress about going back to work.
How do you think going back to work will affect your parenting?
I’m hoping that the return to work will make me a lot more patient when I return home as I will be eager to spend time with my son, no matter what mood he is in! Sometimes when he’s in a cranky mood, or if he is overly fussy, I can get frustrated and just want a break! But knowing that my time with him is precious, I hope that I will be more patient and less frustrated – eager to spend whatever time we have together!
What will be the biggest adjustment you will need to make mentally to make this work?
I think I will need to work on my priorities. As a mum and a teacher – as well as running a blogging business – I will need to prioritise my workload, especially when I am at work (concentrating on work, and not on what might be happening at home). I will also need to dedicate extra time when I am at home on planning for work, which will be difficult as I’ll want to spend all my time with my son (and not to mention find time for my business). I will have to work on how I prioritise my time and my thinking to help me make the most of both home and work life.
What have you learned about yourself whilst on parental leave as a new mum?
I think I have learnt that I am stronger than I ever thought I was – not only going through childbirth, but with everything I have done since then (raising my son as well as starting a business). I think I have also started to learn about my own value, not having to gain everyone’s approval and being more confident in my own abilities.
How much do you love your child? (easy question)
I love him more than anything in the world – more than I thought I could ever love a little human. Obviously when you see babies you think they’re cute, but it is such a completely different feeling when it is your OWN child. He is my whole world.
What is the ONE THING you want to tell new mums going back to work?
Separation anxiety as a mum is normal and you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about that. I’ve been told varying things about my feelings of anxiety about returning to work, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to apologise for feeling anxious. It is one of the ways I know that I love my son more than anything (wanting to spend my time with him rather than wanting to get away from him!). I am also sure now that it won’t change our relationship, but will make the time we do have together more special.
Thank you Fiona for letting us peek into your thoughts and take solace in the fact that so many mums have the same worries and concerns... because we are mums!
If you are returning to work soon and would like to know more about how to make that transition with confidence and a clear conscience. Click here to learn more.
Shannon Young is a certified IECL coach with an MBA and 20+ years of experience developing leaders across the world. She has worked inside iconic organisations and consulted to more. Her mission is to "improve the lives of children everywhere by helping the mothers to be more balanced and less stressed." That means using mindfulness, neuroscience and self-care practices along with her 15+ years of motherhood to coach with empathy, expertise and experience. Click here to see retreats and workshops.