Back to work Blues…

I’ve put off writing this post for weeks, in a classic example of head in the sand denial. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work.

A bit of context first. I’m going back 3 days a week and doing a phased return, so only Tuesday this week and then 2 days a week for the following 2 weeks before doing the full three days after the Easter weekend. Bea isn’t yet 8 months – she will be on the 21st. Why am I going back now? Financial reasons. I’m technically self employed and have to employ someone to do my job while I’m on Mat leave. The funding for that is only for a set period which ran out some weeks ago and the cost of paying for a locum is prohibitive to do for any longer than I have done. Because I’m going back earlier than I would like, I’ve managed to arrange that Pete will do one day of childcare, and my Mum is doing the other two, then Bea will start in Nursery for at least 1 day a week from being 12 months. That may be more difficult than starting her now on reflection, but thats a topic for another post.

Housekeeping out of the way, how am I feeling? Well thats one of the reasons for not writing the post. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I don’t want to leave her. Until now, I’ve left her for 4 and a half hours max, and a total of about 5 times in those 7 and a half months since she was born. I haven’t wanted to leave her, I love being with her so much.

I can hear the former me and the judgements I made pre-baby ringing in my ears. Having no understanding of how I would feel, I thought women who didn’t want to go back to work just didn’t want to work. Work doesn’t really feature in my thoughts, except that it will be the cause of me leaving Bea. I thought women who never left their babies (like I haven’t) were… I don’t know, like a shadow of their former selves. Why didn’t they want to go out and do the things they did before? Because it doesn’t compare to spending the day with your little love. Why did they suddenly lose interest in their careers or job? I never expected to be desperate to get back to work, but I didn’t think I would feel so strongly that I didn’t want to go. I suppose it’s an evolutionary thing. After all, if it were easy to leave our babies, mothers would have left them in years gone by and helpless offspring would have come to all kinds of harm.

I’ve heard so many friends and acquaintances tell me the reality is much worse than the anticipation. And I know that in months to come I will probably welcome some time to myself, when she’s a full on toddler and every moment is exhausting and full of ‘why’s’. Or maybe I won’t. Right now, every bone in my body feels that leaving her is wrong and I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

I’m terrified I’m going to miss out. I’m terrified she will miss me and feel abandoned. All I can think is that she might need her Mummy and I won’t be there. That I should be there.

So I may or may not be around for the next week or two. I can see I will want to spend time with Bea instead of blogging, but if I do find myself at a loose end there me be a post or two on these pages. Bear with me, and I’ll be back once I’m on an even keel again.


47 thoughts on “Back to work Blues…

  1. Good luck Rebecca!
    I went back to work a few weeks ago when Max was 8.5 months and I can honestly say it was easier than I imagined. I am doing a phased return too (2 days a week at the moment) but long days. However, he loves nursery, it’s great to get a part of me back and wonderful to meet up again in the evening. I hope you have the same positive experience. Good luck again!

  2. I went back to work two weeks ago, for 3 days a week. V is with my mum one day and nursery for 2 days…she is only 6 months old :(
    But, so far I can’t believe how well were both getting on.
    She loves nursery & her Grannie and the days we have together are the best, along with the cuddles you get when you pick them up.
    I didn’t want to go back either, but it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, it’s a little chaotic and there’s a new normal to get use to, but we’ll get there.
    Hope everything goes smoothly

  3. Good luck. I went back to work when my son was 9 months old and I had to go back full time and into a brand new job. I phased him in to nursery, as we aren’t lucky enough to have parents who are able to help, whilst I was still on mat leave but bawled my eyes out when I first left him. He’s always fine though and just got on with it. And I’ve noticed his development rocket from constant stimulation. I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy and almost 9 months on, I still find Monday’s incredibly hard. I hate leaving him and if he is a bit off colour, it’s worse. But on the whole, it was easier coming back than I thought. I find I’m so occupied with work when I’m here, it doesn’t give me much time to worry! I think when you’re a mum, you find depths of strength you never knew you had. Bea will be fine. You will be fine. And the time you do have together will be so special. Once the first day is over, it will feel like you’ve never been away. Good luck xxx

  4. Oh I can only imagine how hard this must be for you and I really hope it goes smoothly and you are able to enjoy your return to work. I was like you and never thought that 9 months in and I wouldn’t have left my boy more than 3 hours on a handful of occasions but that’s where we are! I’m lucky enough to have 12 months off so will be returning to work 3 days a week 2 weeks before he turns one but filling in the nursery application this weekend still made me feel a little sick.

    As an aside, I would be interested to hear more about breast feeding and returning to work as I am struggling to find clear, non bias information on the subject of cutting down feeds. Does anyone know of any good resources?

    Good luck for tomorrow x

  5. Good luck Rebecca!

    I went back on 3 days a week when Iris was 7 months, having never been away from her for more than 3 hours. She is at home with a nanny as we have no local family and is totally happy, loves the nanny and is pleased (but not especially!) to see me when I get home at night. I definitely think it is harder for me than for her, which is a good result. Now that we’re in the new routine I’m happy to be back at work and certain we’ve done the best thing for us, for now.

    • When I left Bea a couple of times to go to an afternoon course recently, she was totally non-plussed when I came back through the door. Sooooo gutted! But you’re right. If it has to be hard for one of us, I want it to be me, not her.

  6. Oh Rebecca. This is probably the most heartfelt thing I’ve ever read on here. I don’t know that it will be OK or that you’ll fine after a few days (or any of the usual plaudits designed to make you feel better) as we’re behind you at only 5 months but just sending supportive vibes.

    • I think it’s the hardest post I’ve ever written Becca, but I actually feel better for having faced it, via this post. Just trying to had e anise last day and thinking, ‘It’s only one day, it’s only one day, it’s only one day…’ (this week.)

  7. I have just sobbed reading your post as I am also drawing closer to returning to work 3 days a week at the end of May. My little boy will be 9 months and although I love my role at work, I am becoming so anxious and worried about the reality of returning to work and missing out on so much with Edward. My parents will have him for one day and he will go into nursery for two days.

    Please let us know how you get on over the coming weeks and I am thinking about you. Being a Mummy truly is the best job in the world…

  8. Oh reading this really got me. My boy is 4 months and although I’m planning on returning to work at the end of September, it’s hurting already. I’m still recovering from repair surgery following a third degree tear and I almost feel like my mat leave hasn’t even started, such is the impact it’s had on our lives. I haven’t enjoyed my time off at all because I feel like my baby has missed out on everything I hoped we would get up to so far. I know we still have plenty of time, but I’m already dreading leaving him to return to work. I hope it doesn’t upset you too much. You are certainly not alone!

  9. Good luck Rebecca

    I work full time and my two babies, ages 2 and 1 are looked after by both sets of grandparents 2 days and by daddy one day.

    I really enjoy my work but I hate leaving my kids. I have been back for 5 months and it is getting easier. I guess im lucky as I work 9-4 so im always home for bath time and dinner and I get the best hugs and kisses when I go pick them up.

    If my circumstances allowed I would work part time but unfortunately it is not an option so I just have to get on with it as best as I can. Doesn’t stop me feeling guilty and I worry about missing out on any firsts. This hasn’t happened yet but my little boy is nearly walking so worried I will miss that.

    Fingers crossed it isn’t as bad as your are thinking and im sure Bea will love her days with Granny and Daddy.

  10. For me I started working A LOT earlier than I ever imagined I would. In my day job ( a college teacher ) I took a full year off. But I run my own business on the side. However whilst I busy having a baby my business kind of doubled in size.
    So at 4 months when I was told to get Mila on formula as she had dropped in weight dramatically and my breast milk had dried up. (most upsetting part of parenthood so far) things started to change. My Mum who lives 5 minutes away started having Mila for a morning here and there so I could pop into the office and work. This quickly developed into a day a week. Mila and my Mum loved it. Then since January she’s also spent a day a week at my husbands parents. Again Mila and they absolutely LOVE it. I know I am SO incredibly lucky to have such support so close but it really has made working two days a week, bliss. I feel it has only befitted Mila as she has such a close bond with her grandparents now.
    This week I was meant to return to the day job. However I have been lucky again. I have opted for voluntary redundancy and I know longer have to return. Something I was having nightmares about.
    I now love our routine.

    I think it just that settling into a new routine that is hard. The not knowing if will work. Bea seems like a super cute and happy baby, I sure you will be super surprised at how quickly your new routine seems settled and happy. Good luck. I look forward to reading how it all goes for you.

  11. I really feel for you Rebecca. I felt as low as I’d felt for a long time this time last year. I can only send empathy, and let you know that you’re not alone. It’s so very strange…now I’m working in a job I enjoy, that emotional wrench (although greatly improved) is still there in the background. Just goes to show that those feelings aren’t always to do with whether you want to work or be a SAHM, it’s an entirely separate and very primal thing.

    How lucky Bea is to have that bond with you, and to be so very loved. Soon these weeks and months of adjusting to a new routine will be a distant memory, but that connection you have together will last a lifetime. It is truly irreplacable.

    Thinking of you and sending love.


  12. I do hope it all goes well for you both this week. The first time you leave your little one and head off to work can be so hard. I found it harder second time around. It does get easier though! Especially once you all get used to the new patterns. Hopefully you can find a good balance that works for your family. I work three days at the moment and really treasure my days at home with my girls. Will be thinking of you!

  13. I feel exactly the same way, not being with Albert all the time still feels completely unnatural. Breastfeeding definitely makes this worse, I really felt like I should be there if he was hungry, and if I was away I’d be reminded of this pang every time I had to express.

    It’s rubbish, but you just have to crack on, try and think of the positives (all that lovely bonding time for Pete will be brilliant!) and enjoy the days when you get to play with her alllll day. It gets easier! X

  14. Oh darling, we *all* go through this – you are working to live and provide a wonderful life full or experiences and opportunities for Bea. You will cry, you will feel guilty, and that’s just that really. But don’t beat yourself up. Bea will be absolutely fine. And so will you. It will make every moment you have together even more precious than it was before.

    I had no choice but to return to work for financial reasons for 4 very long days a week when Eska was just 5 months old. I was out the house at 7.15, back at 6 – 6.30pm. It was really hard – for me! Eska was absolutely fine and it made my Friday’s every week with her so much more precious – we filled them doing fun and wonderful things. It was different with Leanora, I was working for myself then so never had to return to work at all, but that brought it’s own challenges and frustrations. Nothing is ever perfect. All I know from experience is, it just works out and you are not alone, there are so many other mum’s out there who have to do this too. The first time you need to leave your baby in the care of others or to go to work will always be hugely daunting and require a big adjustment but you will get through and Bea will be no worse off for it at all. Remember, nothing can break the bond a mother has with her daughter and vice versa. She will have great fun socialising at nursery and I bet your Grandma can’t wait to have her all to herself.
    Lots of love and good luck for your return,
    Love Annabel xx

  15. Think my first post didn’t work – which just shows how addled my brain is today….MY FIRST DAY BACK AT WORK. Sob. This is a very apt post for me.

    I have cried and cried the past two weeks, but (so far!) the though has been worse than the reality. Once I had started my commute this morning, I felt myself getting back in the ‘zone’. It is a bit like missing a limb though, so attached have Willow and I been for the past six months, but I keep telling myself I am doing this for her AND for myself. I hope that I am providing a positive role model for her and that, in the future, she will be proud that her mummy had a career worth fighting for. All that being said, I would SO much rather be at home.

    Also, my boobs hurt – A LOT.

    Best of luck to you and Bea on the next stage of your journey together.xx

    • Thanks Rosie. Are you expressing at work then?
      I wish I was feeling all role-model-ish as it might help but I seem to have lost all ambition and drive amongst the guilt and tears. Hopefully it will come back!
      Thanks for taking the time on what must have been a fraught day to comment and reassure me, it means a lot.

      • I feel a bit embarrassed about what I am doing on the expressing front. I’ve been such a proud breastfeeder until now – you name the place, I have whipped a boob out there. But I work in an incredibly patriarchal office and I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to them about expressing. So I have been smuggling a hand pump into the loos a couple of times a day to pump and dump (the most soul-destroying experience, tipping that milk down the loo and the only time I cried yesterday! I have just loved breastfeeding SO much and the expressing yesterday could not have been more different to our lovely feedtimes).x

        • Oh I can imagine that’s really upsetting! I find expressing really difficult when Bea isn’t around and actually don’t have time to do so at work on my first day back as I was so busy, but fortunately I don’t get a full now *phew* so wasn’t exploding by the end of the day :)

          It probably won’t change how you feel but need you speak to EVERYONE about it to make life easier for you there? Ie could you speak to whoever is appropriate to facilitate somewhere for you to express and then keep the milk in an opaque cool bag with a cool pack under your desk or in a staff fridge? For what it’s worth, some of the men there will have had partners who fed their babies… x

  16. I really really feel for you Rebecca – I went back to work in December when my daughter was almost 9 months ( also for financial reasons) I cried and cried and cried the night before, and I can’t really put into words how I felt leaving her that first day. From 10 months she went to nursery 3 days a week and spent one day with her dad, and I promise you it does get easier. She is very happy at nursery and now just waves me goodbye, and is always delighted to see me at home time. It’s the guilt I found hard to handle, and still do to a point. Before I had my baby I just didn’t get why my new mum friends would cancel dinner plans because they wanted to put their baby to bed, I didn’t get why mums didn’t go back to work – now I realise it’s built into us to love these awesome little people and want to spend every moment with them – and we should never feel bad about that. Be kind to yourself and I hope it all goes ok.

  17. Big hugs! I’m in the states and was made to feel lucky that I was able to stay home for 4 whole months (the national standard is 3, and many daycares start taking babies at 6 weeks!!!). My first day back I literally burst into tears upon entering the office lobby. It does get easier, but for me it’s still a struggle. Lean on coworkers & others who have been through it, be kind to yourself, and drink a lot of coffee. <3

  18. Good luck Rebecca! x
    … and thanks so much for sharing. Being a mum, although roughly planned, is yet to happen to me and just like you used to, until now I thought it would be only natural that I will want my own life back once the baby is a few months old. After all, I’ve worked hard to have a satisfying life: great job, social circle, not to mention my relationship. Your post is a massive eye opener.
    Again, THANK YOU and fingers crossed it works out well for you! xx

  19. thank you for writing such an honest post.

    i too have surprised myself with how little i want to go back to work. like you, i’ve hardly spent any time without my boy and the thought of someone else being there for him day to day scares me silly, which i never in a million years expected.

    yet at the same time the thought of giving up the job i love in the school i love when i worked so hard to get good at my job makes me feel desperately sad.

    this combination has made trying to come to a decision about whether i should return to work or not has been almost impossible, not a situation i envisaged when i found out i was pregnant.

    i too was quick to judge working mums once, but the more i talk to friends the more i realise how strong we are to make such impossible decisions.

    very good luck with your return. you’ve made the right decision because you would only make the right decision, and bea will be happy because she won’t know anything else. and you’re a wonderful mum for doing what you know is the best for her and her life, even if it goes against what you want for you. i’m starting to think that’s what being a parent is all about. it’s certainly the hardest thing. she’s so lucky to have you.

  20. I just wanted to say good luck for tomorrow. I’m a few weeks behind you but dreading returning to work already, but like others have said I’m trying to think of the positive aspects such as Max getting to socialise with other children at nursery. I really hope that tomorrow and the coming weeks go better than you think. X

  21. Good luck lady. It is worth it to keep the financial ship afloat and the career on track, and it’s amazing how they need us less than we think, especially when it’s granny and daddy doing the childcare :) . Our whole lives w our kids are a gradual, bittersweet letting go, but going back to work is an enforced big change rather than the smaller day to day stuff, and hard. On a comedy note, I’m struggling to let go of baby wearing my enormous toddler, and a mate of mine still has her massive 6 month old in a pram (not buggy) and cosleeper that he’s popping out of, as they’re our last babies! Xxx

  22. I totally get what you are going through. I went back to work when Dexter was 2 months old. I work Tuesday and Thursday and his Nan looks after him as a paid job and I also do Saturday when Nik has him. I then work every evening once Nik has got home from work.
    For the first month Nan came to the house so he could get used to her looking after him and me still being around, the hardest was the first week he went to the house, he was only 3-4 months old.
    But you know what you adapt really quickly. It makes the time at work very productive because you do everything you can to finish on time so you can spend time with them.
    I also remind myself why I am doing it, as much as I love spending all my time with Dexter my working means we can afford to give him the things he needs, as well as treats and holidays etc, but I still get to spend 4 days a week with him, just as you will with Bea.
    It may be hard to begin with, but believe me you will soon adjust as will she. I also believe it makes them more rounded children and more flexible by having other people look after them. Plus that smile you get from them when they see you at the end of the day when you pick them up is priceless!
    You’ll be fine. xxxx

  23. Another reader here finding this a very timely post. I return to work a week Monday and am literally having the worst anxiety about it. Unfortunately I’m going back 5 days a week with a long commute each way so will be out of the house from 7.15am to 7pm, 5 days a week going to a job I hate but which pays well whilst my husband will be the stay at home parent. She is 10 months so I’m glad I’ve had all this time with her but like you, have spent VERY little time away from her and can’t imagine how I’m going to cope with pretty much not seeing her for 5 days straight. It actually breaks my heart a little. I am so angry with myself for not having forged a career I enjoy that I have to return to, which I’m sure would have helped take the edge off the crapiness (is that a word?!) of the situation. Plus if I’m honest I can’t help but feel peeved that its me who has to go back to work full time (for financial reasons) and not my husband, even though we’ve known all along, even before she came along, that this would be how it would have to be. Now its actually happening though, I feel so distraught.

    So all that to say, I hear ya. I would say cherish the days you have with her and as many mums above have said, hopefully the reality won’t be as bad as the anticipation. Bea is lucky to be so missed and so loved x

  24. Just wanted to hop on and say thank you all for all of your lovely comments and words of support – it has meant a lot to know I’m not alone in my crazy mama thoughts!

    My first day was ok after all, I’ll write more soon when we are in a routine and I’m back doing the full 3d a week but for now, we both survived!


  25. I feel for you and read this with a knot on my throat. I had a year maternity leave with each of mine, then went back full time. It has been a hard road, full of stress and guilt. I would have loved to be a stay at home mum. But we made our choice. Me going back to work has allowed to pay for private education fees and now that both my kids are in school I have reduced my hours and work the same time they are in school. It is still hard as they are a lot in holiday clubs which makes me feel guilty and when they are poorly it is a real juggling act, but working a bit less has made a huge difference to all our lives.
    However, my kids are happy, lovely and well balanced individuals and I don’t think me being a working mum has harmed them in any way. I think it has been a lot harder on me having to give up my time with them. If money wasn’t an issue and we could afford what we want for them, I would have no desire to work at all :)
    Best of luck and you still have a really good balance with 3 days a week. I’m sure it will be OK xx

  26. If every bone in your body is telling you not to go back to work, you should listen. As a mother of an 8 year old I promise you that Bea these are the most precious years and will zip by in the blink of an eye. I know it sounds crazy, but she will be at school before you know it, You only get a teeny, tiny amount of time to enjoy your gorgeous baby / toddler and then it’s gone, leaving you to look at the photos and wish you’d savoured the time more. I gave up my career to stay at home with my son because I felt exactly as you do. It wasn’t easy and I had PND for the first 18 months, but I’m so glad I did it. He is now 8 years old and I am still a full time mum. Nothing, certainly not a job or more money, could mean more to me than spending this short time with him. It seems like yesterday that he was just a chubby little toddler but the reality is that at 8 he is now growing in independence and soon he’ll just want to spend time with his friends (which is great). I’m so grateful that I can stay at home. We’re NOT wealthy, but we have a lovely house and everything we need. If I went back to work I could pay for private education and we could have better holidays. Many of my friends (doctors included) went back to work when their children were babies, and continue to work now that they are older. They have more money than I do, their kids are at prep schools (which are no better than our great local state school IMHO), they have more holidays and … well, that’s it really. They are stressed and tired and they missed out on so much. They barely see their kids during the week because by the time they pick them up from after school club, cobble together a quick dinner, supervise their homework and bath them it’s late. And let’s not get started on their mornings as they shout at the kids to be out of the house before 8pm! I wouldn’t live their lives for any amount of money or status. My son has a relaxed mum who takes him to school every day, picks him up, spends time with him and cooks him a decent dinner. While he’s at school I have tons of time to myself to do whatever I like. It makes for a relaxed home life and no regrets about missing on the one thing that matters to me above anything – the love I have for my son and his sense of security. I am a highly educated, professional woman and have given up my status, financial independence and luxurious lifestyle to become (in society’s eyes) a housewife who struggles to afford a 2 week holiday in the UK once a year. Who cares. I look at my gorgeous, happy, well adjusted son and I couldn’t be happier.

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