Whether you had three months, six month or 12 months off, going back to work after maternity leave is never easy. It’s prime mum guilt territory, because lets face it, it’s not all about the babies so of course we have to feel ALL the guilt about it. So I thought I’d look at the return to work on balance, and hopefully help others realise that going back to work can actually sometimes be quite a good thing for those of us that want to.
Of course its ok if you don’t, after all going back to work isn’t for all of us, just as being a stay at home mum isn’t for all of us. Theres no guilt or judgement here. Just 6 ways to help banish the back to work mum guilt if like me you’ve decided that you do want to go back to work.
#1 Getting the best of both worlds
A happy mummy equals a happy baby in my books, so for me that meant going back to work when the time felt right. Of course, it doesn’t for every mum. For some mums this might be and feel like the worst imaginable scenario possible. But for other mums like me, my professional identity and career are very important to me and so I felt like needed to go back to work so that I could be the best version of myself. Some people might think its selfish, but I am my happiest self when I feel both professionally and personally fulfilled, and that means being both Emily the career woman, and Emily the mum. That way everyone gets the best version of me, and if you feel like that too its ok!
#2 Becoming the best kind of role model
I think its important for children to have great role models when they are growing up, and I really hope that my children are able to look up to me in the future as a mother that has also carved out a successful career for herself. I think as parents we can all be different types of role models. Some mothers and fathers are creatively gifted and can do and make amazing things with their hands. Others are able to bake and delight with the most wonderfully smelling and tasting food, where others might tell the best tales with a wicked imagination that brings stories to life and makes them larger than life. I unfortunately have none of those natural gifts that some lucky beings are naturally blessed with, but what I do have and am proud of is a career that I have made my own and I hope that my children one day look up to me as a role model as what I have created for myself and my family as a woman and a mum.
#3 Creating the life you want for them
I suppose the most obvious benefit of returning to work after maternity leave has to be earning a salary again after months, or possibly even a year or years of not earning one. For even the most hard core budgeter like me, returning to payroll has to be one of the best feelings ever. I know it isn’t the case for everyone, but for us my return to work helps us create the type of life that we want for our family and that makes me feel pretty darn great.
#4 Helping them become independent
There are some pluses to sending the little ones to childcare. I know it might not always feel like it, and in the beginning it is definitely hard, for us and for them. But Ella going to nursery five days a week from when she was around 18 months has proved to us that it does help them become more independent. Although I hated the idea of sending her nursery in the beginning im really glad that we did because now she mixes really well with other children in familiar and unfamiliar places, will happily stay or sleep over with family and is generally a pretty independent little girl. Louis is much more clingy (which I didn’t think was possible) so we’ve had to take a slightly different childcare route and find him a childminder, although to be fair he is much younger than Ella was. But my hope is that over time him he becomes as confident and independent as his big sister.
#5 Developing their social skills
It’s great for little ones to mix and integrate with other little ones and adults that they don’t see every day and that aren’t their family. Because not only does it help them become independent, but it also helps them develop their social skills. Playing nicely and sharing toys with a sibling is one thing when parents are there to intervene and negotiate for little ones, but it’s another thing when it’s with other children and adults that aren’t sometimes going to take their side. Manners, sharing, taking turns and practicing patience can only be a good thing for little ones to learn from a young age
#6 Building their immune system
If nothing else, going back to work and sending the little ones to childcare is great for helping them build their immune systems. I have never known Ella to be as sick from colds and bugs as she was in those first few days and months when she started nursery. Since then I’ve learned from our experience and gave myself a one month buffer before I went back to work so that not only could we get Louis acclimatised to going to nursery (in theory), but also so he could also catch all the bugs in that first month meaning less days of having to call in sick to look after a poorly child. Whilst I would never wish it on either of our little ones, they are just naturally prone to getting sick in those early months of childcare because they have virtually no immune system when they are babies. So although it’s a pretty odd one to feel good about, it is a pretty important one I’d say!