Back to work: Returning to work after having a baby

Returning to the workplace now you have a baby can feel daunting, but here’s how it can work

What it’s like to go back to work after having a baby

These tips may help manage those mixed emotions about going back to work after maternity leave

Mum sat at computer working

Facing the prospect of returning to the workplace after your maternity leave can feel pretty scary but with the right preparation and balance, it can work out well.

How will I get used to working again?

This will take some time, so come prepared, particularly for the first day. Have one of your favourite photos of your baby in a frame to keep on your desk or your locker. Come armed with plenty of tissues and make up to touch up your face should you get a little tearful.

As time goes on you’ll find it easier to separate the two, being at home and being at work. Only phone to check on your baby when you need to. Try not to phone too regularly especially if there’s a chance you’ll you hear your baby cry in the background, it will just add to your feeling upset at missing them.

Try to be organised on your days off, prepare workday meals if you can to take the pressure off when at home and where possible have early nights to help you cope with tiredness in the early weeks. Get yourself and baby packed and sorted the night before and decide what you’re both wearing. Every little bit of prep helps!

What about fitting working round childcare?

There are several childcare options and it’s important to look at costs and what each one offers to allow you to choose the right one for your working needs.

The options are:

  • A relative or friend 
  • Childminder
  • Day nursery
  • Nanny/Nanny share
  • Au pair
  • Sharing childcare with your partner

If you have a relative who is willing to make the regular commitment this can be a great option to save on expensive fees.

If not and you will be returning to set hours each week, a day nursery or local nursery may be your best option. Fees can be high so make sure you do your homework on how much it will cost against your take home salary.

What if I need to work longer hours at times?

Do speak to your employer in advance and ask for as much notice as possible should you be required for extra hours or go away from home with work. For these eventualities it is worth looking into back up childcare. This is where a relative or friend may be willing to help for occasional back up outside of your usual working hours. 

If there’s a chance you may need to work an extra hour or two, talk to your chosen childcare provider and see if they are willing to accommodate additional hours when needed and check how much out of hours childcare may cost.

Will I be able to keep on top of my workload even if I can’t work regular long hours?

Be clear with your employer before you go back that you need to stick to your set hours as a rule as you have commitments to pick up your child, that way they are clear on what you will be able to achieve in your working hours. If you feel you are getting overloaded, don’t be afraid to push back, delegate and do talk to your employer before you feel overwhelmed.

Back to work: Returning to work after having a baby