parenting

Returning to Work after Maternity Leave or a Career Break? Are you really ready?

Everyone has a different approach to returning to work and has different thoughts:

  • Some people cannot wait to get back to work as they have missed work and/or the people they work with and looking back to some adult conversation.  
  • Some people have constant guilt and the thought of them returning to work and leaving baby
  • Some people unfortunately just have to get back to work and have no other option or time for emotions
  • Others are very anxious about returning to work and having to get back to reality

The first question that you must ask yourself is, do you have to return to work? Are you able to extend your time off to be with your baby or other children for a little longer? 

Another question you need to ask yourself is are you going back, full-time or part-time?  What will be the best working/non-working days ratio for you and your family?

Only you can answer these questions, but the answer is always whatever is best for you and your family.  Sometimes until you are back at work you won’t know how it is going to affect your lives.  You can only but try. 

There are so many pros and cons to going back to work.  It is such a hard decision to make but hopefully I will be able to help you with this and make the decision a little easier for you.  There are so many things you will have to think about that you may not have even thought about yet but that’s what I am here for to help you make the right choice.

Do you need to go back to work?

This is the biggest question that you need to ask yourself.  Are you in a position that you can take longer off work?  Some workplaces offer extended career breaks for mums that have been off on maternity leave.  If you are in a financially stable position it may be worth considering this if you feel you are not yet ready to take the huge step back into work.

Some mums would love to be a stay at home mum, I know I would.  It can be so rewarding in many ways.  Getting to experience so much with your children that many of us miss with having to work.  However, it can be challenging also, many people miss out of the normality of life and routine.  Also not having the same adult conversation daily can dishearten some people, but there are so many ways around this also.

Do you need to go back full-time?

Times have changed in the way that many employers understand that a family comes first, therefore if you are career driven and enjoy work but feel full-time may be too challenging as well as running a home and family, ask your employer about the opportunity of reducing your hours while you have a young family.  This keeps you working and earning, but also gives you the opportunity to be at home also.

Speak to your employer and negotiate a deal that works for you and your employer.  Some employers may want to know how it will benefit them losing you a day or two a week, this is when you need to sell yourself as it is better you are there part-time instead not at all.

Also remember many companies offer flexible working also and this may be a better option for you if you have worked with your company for over 26 weeks before you went on maternity you will qualify for, this may be a better option for you.  You can find out all information on how this all works at https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working.

Another option that your work may let you consider is to work from home.  Many companies offer this as a way of supporting their employees and families but also a cost saving to them so this may be beneficial to both you and your employer.

The serious part…can you afford it?

Before you have made the final decision about either not returning to work or reducing your hours you need to figure out if you can afford this on potentially only one salary or one and half salaries.

You need to make a list of all your costs this should also include your lifestyle costs.  You don’t want to not be able to go out for that coffee or dinner one day because you are simply struggling.  You want to ensure that you can keep up a little bit of a lifestyle.  We all know as parents we don’t have much time for ourselves or each other but maybe by planning for it you may have it a little better.

Also remember you need to plan for your future, do you have your dream house?  Will you have enough money to send your children to university?

Once you have a list of your total outgoings find out what your approx. income would be and see if it is doable to cover these costs.  If it is great, if not are there any cost savings you can make to accommodate reduced hours for a year or two possibly.

How much is your daily routine going to change?

You spend the whole time you are on maternity leave getting you and baby into a routine and when you are thinking about going back to work your routine will no doubt change again.

I find the best way to plan your routine is planning backwards. 

  • What time do you need to be at work for? 
  • How long does it take you to get from dropping off your child to get to work? 
  • How long will you need to stay at the childcare in the morning, most likely just a 5 min drop off, but remember to plan for days you may have to fill in medicine forms or speak to them about toilet training etc. 
  • How long does it take from your house to the childcare?
  • Do you need to feed the baby/children breakfast before dropping them off
  • How long does it take to get clothes on etc.
  • Finally plan for yourself how long does it take you to get up, ready and prepared for the day. 

Write your routine and timings down you will find this will help so much when you are getting used to your new routine.

You may be lucky that someone else can help with this and do part of this for you such as drop baby at the childcare or the older kids at school but I always plan for me doing everything and if I don’t need to on certain days then it means I have some extra time to grab an extra cup of coffee or even put make-up on.

Remember the childcare also may have a policy of all children to be picked up by 6pm therefore you need to ensure you can leave your work in plenty of time to collect them or at least have someone else to collect them.

Do you have childcare options?

Are you a lucky one that has a relative nearby that can look after your little one?  This is the ideal situation no costs and it will be someone you trust so you don’t have any fear of leaving them there.

If not, you need to decide are you going to find a childminder to put your little one to or are you going for the nursery option.  Everyone has their own preferences.  In my experience I have found nursery being a better option as it brings them on in their social skills and many other things, they work through with them.  However, the upside to childminding is that there is more one-on-one care.

Childminding can be cheaper than nurseries as nurseries can vary from about £35-70 a day (some may be more).  This is also something to keep in mind when making up your monthly expenditures.

Research the childminders and nursery in your area and when you are going to visit them, just turn up don’t worry about making an appointment.  By not informing them of your attendance then you will see the nursery as it is, and nothing will be ‘put on’ to show you how amazing they are.

Go with your instinct!!

Have you been able to answer the questions about and have a clearer mind about what to do?

There will still be a few questions you need to think about, but these questions should give you a clearer vision of where this chapter of your life is going.

I love to hear from you all and if you have any questions that I can help with your decision please contact me using the “Contact Me” section of my blog.

I will be writing more blogs about different tips that helped me have a smooth transition back to work so please come back and see these.  Or if you have a certain topic you would like me to blog about contact me on mumstalk@outlook.com.

Speak soon

L x

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