Anxiety About Going Back To Work After Maternity Leave

Lately I have been riddled with anxiety.

You see, I am going back to work this month after spending 8 months on maternity leave, 7 with my amazing son.

I’m anxious because it will be a huge adjustment going back to the corporate world, leaving my son for 2 days a week with his nana, Alan’s mother.

I have made the choice to go back to work before I actually have to financially, and while I am excited to be going back and re-opening this facet of my life again, I can’t help but have this sinking feeling that I am making the wrong decision.

Related: How To Survive Maternity Leave – Going From Working Full Time To Stay At Home Mum For The First Time

I have decided to create a plan of attack by drafting a loose routine to make sure I am using my time at work and at home productively.

But first I need to get to the bottom of this anxiety!

IMAGE Going back to work how i plan to overcome the anxiety

Why Am I Nervous About Going Back To Work?

Alan’s mum works with mothers and babies at the local hospital. So, it is not her that I am worried about. She is the most equip member of the family in terms of medical emergency, dealing with babies on a daily basis.

Jaxon is a sociable and easy-going fairly predictable baby so it’s not him I’m really worried about either.

I have been the head of a successful property management department for 2 years. A role I was promoted to after climbing the ladder in the same company over the last 7 years. I love my job. I love the people I work with. My boss is amazing and so understanding when it comes to family life. I know he would understand if I need to take a sick day to care for Jax if he were unwell. No issues here at all.

Why Am I Feeling Anxious?

Society…?

Traditional expectations…?

My mother…?…!!

Speaking with my mother recently has gotten my anxiety levels through the roof. Not to mention my frustration.

Her perception of a mother is extremely traditional. She finds it hard to comprehend that I would want to go back to work at all. Her idea is that my husband should go out and work to provide for our family and I should stay at home raising the children until they are at least school age.

Unfortunately we are not living in an era where this is a financial possibility.

It still plays on my mind and makes me question if I am making the right choice.

  • Am I being selfish in wanting more money to live a cushy lifestyle?
  • Am I being selfish for wanting 2 days a week away from my son where I’m not a mother for a few hours?
  • Am I depriving him of the mother he needs?
  • All these questions flying around in my mind send me dizzy and adds to the dreaded #momguilt and #momxiety

Related: Changes To Prepare For When You Announce Your Pregnancy

How will I overcome these un-certainties?

It’s time to change these questions into mantras!

I am not selfish for wanting to provide a better life for my child…

To be able to provide a better and bigger home, family holidays, toys, good food, experiences. I know half of these things my 8 month old does not care about right now but I do hope that he will grow up and remember a childhood filled with love and fun times. Something I feel like I missed out on.

I am not selfish for wanting a career…

Before I was a mother, I was a ‘career woman’ as my mother put it. I worked my butt off to get to where I am and I do not want to lose that. Not only have I grown to a management position where I have a say in the company policies but I also have an OK wage.

And that being said this is not been about the title or the money! I think about when I am sitting at home in my 60’s and my children have grown and left the nest. Will I be sitting there thinking what to do next? Or will I have an established career, a social life and the energy to travel more and have a vibrant retirement?

I am giving my son a role model of a woman who works hard, and mums harder.

I am not depriving my son of anything. I am allowing him bonding with his nana, socializing at childcare. One day he will grow up and hopefully find a partner. I hope that he sees my determination and commitment as admirable and uses these qualities to find a wife who mirrors that.

I want to move on now, I do not wish to make this a post about the tumultuous relationship I have with my mother, the internet does not have enough space!

I am giving my son a role model of a woman who works hard, and mums harder.

I also face pressure from societal expectations.

There is an expectation that women should work like they don’t have children and mother like they don’t have a job.

This expectation puts ridiculous pressure on mothers who work outside the home to excel unconditionally in both roles… while maintaining her sanity.

I guess I am worried that going back to work will mean that I will not be able to fulfil either role 100% and that scares me because it is my nature to do well in all I attempt.

I strive for greatness in every aspect of my life. I have taken on motherhood with fierce motivation. Previously my work was a central part of my life, excelling and progressing from entry level to management in 5 short years.

So, what if I can’t leave my work at the door when I get home? What if I spend my days at work daydreaming about my baby?

I dread that I will let one affect the other and end up falling into a pile of self-disappointment.

There is an expectation that women should work like they don’t have children and mother like they don’t have a job.

How do I overcome these fears?

I am going to make a conscious effort to place less pressure on myself! I know it sounds so simple. It is.

I need to do this if I am going to stop myself from crushing from the pressure. Pressure I only place on myself.

How will I place less pressure on my work life?

It helps that I am only going back to work 2 days a week so I will be in a somewhat lesser role than previously, hopefully with less responsibility.

And in motherhood?

It also helps that my mother-in-law will be keeping to our sleep, eat play routine so the days I am home should be pretty breezy. We have already discussed my stance on routine and ensuring we keep to this.

We have worked so hard to get Jax sleeping 12hrs a night that we do not want to jeopardize this by skipping naps by accident etc.

I should even be able to create some sort of routine to feel that the days I am home are productive.

One thing I learned when I started maternity leave is that I really need to make the most of everyday, because if I sit around in my PJ’s I tend to feel a day wasted and I get down on myself, and I don’t have time for self-pity!

Believe it or not, having a plan and routine actually puts less pressure on me. If I live each day as it comes, I spend half the day trying to decide what to do and then 4pm rolls around and Alan is home and I have accomplished nothing… which on rainy days, during Jaxon’s leaps is totally fine but not for day to day living. Not for me.

The routine will be centralized around chores, going to the gym and socializing outside of work (plus making time for blogging too).

Since about a week ago, Jax is formula fed, making it easy to organize him for his nana. He also eats solids twice a day (breakfast and dinner) with snacks in between. I will need to prepare these for my MIL.

Related: Breast Feeding For The Last Time – A Letter To My Son

Alan and I both workout, Alan with his brother. They have a gym set up at their house and we go there 2-3 times a week for these sessions.

Previously I was going 3 days a week to work out but I know with working I will be less motivated, more tired, more time-poor and so I have decided to drop down to 2 days a week and then to walk on Sundays, weather permitting. This way I am not setting myself up for failure.

Here is what my ideal week looks like so far:

  • Monday – work – reheat dinner from Sunday, bedtime routine – rest (Read a book or watch TV – blog if I feel like it)
  • Tuesday – gym during Jaxon’s 1hr mid-morning nap – grocery shopping – cook dinner for 2 nights – bedtime routine while hubby at the gym – prepare food and milk bottles for the next day – blog for 2hrs – rest before bed
  • Wednesday – same as Monday. Working
  • Thursday – gym during Jaxon’s 1hr mid-morning nap, cook dinner for 2 nights – catch up with a friend for a playdate or coffee/ hang out with sister/s – bedtime routine while hubby at the gym – prepare food and milk bottles for the next day – rest before bed
  • Friday – cleaning day. Tidy house while Jax plays – vacuum and mop in his morning nap time. Blog in his afternoon nap time – dinner time – bedtime routine – Netflix movie with hubby on couch with a glass of wine.
  • Saturday – hubby home – breakfast with Jax – family outing day (we go to the plaza, the market, the park, a parent’s house etc.)
  • Sunday – hubby at gym in morning, – go for a walk – ad hoc outing – prepare dinner for 2 nights – bedtime routine – blog and prepare posts for following week – early night.

When I say routine, this is more a check list for each day so no big deal if I don’t get to the gym in the morning, I can always do a session when Alan gets home from work and can help me with the bedtime routine.

I also leave plenty of space for ad hoc events like going out for lunch with a friend, visiting mum or popping out to the shops.

Now that Jax has a solid sleep routine we are getting up at 7:30am every morning which means there are finally enough hours in the day!

If only I stumbled upon this when I was in my University days (ha!)

Related: Baby Take Over Days

And again, if I decide that I’m I the mood to clean on a Monday or feel like getting in a walk or a gym session on a Friday (or I just need a day at home relaxing), this ‘routine’ allows for flexibility.

Final Thoughts

Going back to work after having a baby is an event that is not always a choice. I am fortunate that we were in a position to save a fair amount when we found out I was pregnant so I have been able to take extended time off with Jaxon.

In fact, I was only planning to go back to work at the beginning of January, not the end of October which is now the plan.

I have chosen to go back early and I loathe how society and traditional expectations make women feel like they should want to stay at home with their babies and for me that just isn’t the case.

I thought it would be. I counted down the days to my maternity leave as I was done with work and felt like I would never go back.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my son and hanging out with him all day, seeing him grow and counting his milestones.

I just know there is more to me as a person and I know in the long run, the decision to go back to work will only be a positive for my child.

I wish there was a way that this topic could be bought to the forefront without judgement, resentment and expectations from people who have done it differently.

Women need to have the right to choose what is right for them and their families without pressure. Because pressure causes anxiety and that’s not good for anyone.

Do you have concerns about going back to work? Was it a choice or were you financially forced to go back way earlier than you would have liked? Any tips for my transition back to work?

I’d love to hear from you!

Much Love, Veronika Xx

LOGO www.wifemumworkplay.com
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IMAGE when maternity leave ends. Why women feel so anxious about the decision and how to overcome it
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Veronika Veale is a first time stay at home mum helping others make sense of motherhood through her love of writing.

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