Returning back to work after maternity leave is often bittersweet and a hard pill to swallow, but if you are still suffering with postnatal depression it can fill you with complete dread. For me returning back to work, whilst I was still in the middle of a big battle was challenging and just added to my anxiety. How could I cope being a working mum when I struggled being a mum anyway?
- I think one of the key things is to be honest with your employer. Speak with someone you trust and be honest of your fears of returning back to work. I was shocked at how supportive and understanding my work was especially my male boss. There is a good chance they have seen it first hand through a wife or sister .
- Be realistic in your goals and don’t set yourself up to fail. If it’s an option look at doing a phased return or reduced hours. The best thing I could have done was to cut my hours. I now start work at 9:30am instead of 8am which means mornings are not so hectic.
- Ask for extra help whilst you adapt to a new routine. Don’t be scared to ask for help and if you can get someone to help out with older children’s school runs, or a nursery pick up, then take it.
- You will be late for work one day, forget to pack the children’s lunch box and be late to pick up from nursery. Don’t let little problems collect and seem bigger than they are. You are only human and you are only one person.
- Usually the thought of returning back to work is far worse than actually going back to work. In my experience it was a little break, I got to drink hot tea and I was someone else besides mum. The first day is always the hardest.
- If you really think you are not mentally well enough to go back to work then see your doctor and express your fears. There is nothing to be ashamed of and help is there.
- Get organised. I am not naturally organised, but I find if I have everything ready the night before the whole start to the day is far less stressful. Have packed lunches made (including yours), clothes already laid out ready and bags packed. Starting the day in a good mindset is the way to go.
- Have your therapy in place. Have either CBT, counselling etc in place for when you go back so you still have an outlet to talk through your fear and worries.
- Make your sleep a priority. Make sure you switch off phones etc (blue light) an hour before bed and put things in place to relax you. I have reading relaxes me, a bath or otherwise using a mediation app like head space.
- If you are on medication make sure you mindful of when you need to get a new prescription. Juggling work, a baby and needing to get to the doctors can be stressful last minuet. If you do run out, take your box to a pharmacy and they should be able to write you an emergency prescription for a week.
for the legal side of returning to work and taking additional sick leave it’s worth reading this. My personal experience through my own work has been fantastic, but unfortunately not employees are so progressive. Make sure to get legal advice if needed and make sure you are being treated fairly.