Returning to work full time after having a child can be hard. Whether you are returning to work six weeks or two years following the birth of your child, you will be faced with many practical and emotional issues.
Mothers working full time in the office face the challenge of balancing work and home demands. Guilt can creep in because it can be tough to deal with your child spending more time with her other carers than she does with you. But be assured that children are fine when their mothers are fine and where there’s consistency and security regardless of any particular work arrangement.
Returning to work will be challenging. You will be very busy. You’ll spend your breaks and much of your free time doing what needs to be done for your child, but despite initially feeling as though there is just too much to do you will soon settle into things and will manage. This is life as a parent.
Be confident in your choices. There will always be someone who frowns on your decisions regarding work and home. Simply ignore them and do what you believe to be best for you and your family. You will find plenty of support too – you’ll be amazed at how helpful it can be to simply spend time with other women in your situation.
3 tips to help returning to work easier:
Organise childcare in advance
Start childcare two or so weeks before your return to work. You’ll find it easier to get back into work if you know that your child has settled in and is being taken care of. You’ll also be able to pick up and resolve any problems in the quality of care.
Decide whether to continue breastfeeding or not
If you decide to wean, it’s best to do it gradually in advance as your baby might resist the bottle.
If you decide to express milk and continue breastfeeding, this will need some preparation too. Both choices require some research.
Organise your work wardrobe
Buy 3 smart suits or outfits that fit you at your present weight and shape, with easily mixed and matched shirts and accessories.
The transition will be smoother if you don’t have to wage war on your wardrobe every morning, and you’ll feel more confident if you have something comfortable and smart to wear.
If you’re planning to express or breastfeed, choose tops that allow easy access.
Your right to maternity leave
According to the SA Department of Labour, pregnant women are entitled to at least 4 consecutive months of maternity leave. Your rights as an employee mean that you may take maternity leave one month before your due date – earlier or later depending upon mutual agreement between you and your employer.
In terms of SA labour law, no female employee may return to work before six weeks following the birth of a child unless her doctor or midwife says it is safe to do so.