It finally happened. I went back to work. Now you all may call me a sook as I briefly recap the past six weeks but I can’t help it. I miss my baby. So here is what I have personally experienced and a few things that have helped…..
My work situation! I extended my maternity leave by a few weeks so that I returned to work a week after my baby turned one. I just felt more comfortable making it past that milestone. I was set to return to three afternoons at OSHC (Out of School Hours Care). Unfortunately, during those extra weeks my Director was offered work elsewhere and stepped down from her role. Therefore I was returning to work with no actual Director in place. My first day back was her last day. Another worker stepped down that week as well, only wanting casual work when no other staff were available. I returned to work knowing only one worker. Not only did I have to learn/relearn parts of my role this unknown element added a lot of stress.
My personal situation! Well my baby has his Nana come and look after him two afternoons a week. On the third afternoon he goes to a childcare centre. I have previously worked within childcare centres so that helped me a lot with my decision, as does knowing one of the workers in his room. I was lucky it worked out that way. Generally he is a social baby, although he does have his moments, and I felt that it would be a good environment for him. However I found it difficult to leave him and for the first few weeks I would be teary in the car once I left, fighting the urge to turn around and go home. I think he has coped better than I have!
So, what helped?
Remember what you liked: I tried to remind myself of everything I had loved about my job (clearly, this wasn’t as successful with all the last minute staff changes but hopefully that doesn’t happen to everyone).
Fake it until you make it! (Or trusting myself): I had to remind myself that I was perfectly capable and to just go with what I knew and take the most appropriate steps I could at the time for any other situation. In my fourth week back I had to face a situation that I hadn’t really faced before and had to call in help from the organisation we fall under – and I actually handled it fine and received some positive feedback. It was a reminder that yes, I’ve still got this.
Take on an extra task: I offered to plan the April Vacation Care Program as we didn’t have a Director appointed. I have assisted with this planning before but never done the whole program by myself (I wasn’t paid any extra either) and it was a great distraction from missing my baby. In fact once it was finished and distributed I felt lost again for a few days. Now I’m focusing on the next part of the planning.
Visits/Babysit. Visiting the childcare centre three times before my baby started certainly helped him get used to the environment. I now drop him off a little early and spend ten minutes with him to make him comfortable before leaving. He did cry this week (week six) but not for very long and he hasn’t done that before so hopefully next week is better. My Mum looked after him throughout the past year when I had to attend appointments without him, etc so he was very used to her looking after him.
Reward: I said if I made it through the first four weeks without quitting I could go book in a massage (finally getting that done tomorrow!) One week I had Magnum ice creams ready for the nights I finished work. I’m thinking of having an annual leave day once I reach three months. Whatever works when you find yourself thinking about quitting early on.
My Baby: soaking up all that I can. Always.
Well, I plan to continue working at OSHC and see how I go. I would hate to quit and then find after working out my notice that I threw it in too early. While I have tried to keep this post positive I have honestly found the whole thing emotionally difficult, particularly in the first four weeks where I was having nightmares about being separated from my baby. It is also worth noting that I am still breastfeeding my baby and have only completely stopped his afternoon feed just over a week ago. I’m now feeding three times in 24 hours. He will also, most likely, be moving into his own room in the coming months. So emotionally there is a bit going on that is clearly affecting my feelings towards work.
*Please remember that everyone is different and have their own situations and reasons for their decisions. Some find this hard, some don’t. No judgment on anyone, just support. This is my personal reflection only. While I would love to hear what others have experienced, please keep this in mind when commenting. Thank you.