Well, I’m sure you could hardly have missed the fact that I returned to work on Friday, after looming large on my calendar for many weeks now, the day finally came around. Tibbons had settling sessions at nursery for the two days prior to my return, but only for 90 minutes each time. Though a little upset, he settled and his key worker said she thought he’d done really well for never having been left in that sort of environment before. And me, you ask, how did I do? Oh you know, I wandered the streets, very nearly vented my wrath and stress at the leery man who commented on my “nice tits” – seriously, why do some people think it’s okay to say those kind of things to you as you walk along the road?! And entered myself into the Moonwalk. All standard stuff.
I also went to the station and bought my season ticket, except I conveniently forgot my pin number, which I am convinced was a ploy on the part of my subconscious to avoid the return to work! Then I picked Tibbons up from his settling session, and he was so relieved to see me that it broke my heart. Thankfully we had a birthday party with family in the afternoon to distract me from the dread of leaving him the following morning for a full 12 hours. Having never left him for longer than six hours before, and this only on two occasions, I knew it would be tough, but I also knew I needed to bite the bullet and get on with it.
So there we are, Daddy-O and I, arriving at the nursery for a prompt 7.30am drop off. And there Tibbons is, in the arms of his key worker, but none too happy about it and communicating that very clearly through his tears. Leaving my son when he is upset goes against every fibre of my being, but I also knew that I would probably make things worse if I prolonged the goodbye, so off we went. Daddy-O thought I was going to be doing quite a bit of crying on the train – he even asked if I would be taking my make-up bag so I could reapply mascara etc! But I didn’t cry – I think it would be a bit rich of me to indulge my sadness at leaving Tibbons, seeing as I’m the one responsible for the separation. Better to embrace the time apart and come back fresher for Tibbons. So instead I drove Daddy-O a bit mad with my commentary on what a civilised thing commuting is, and how nice it is to have a hot coffee, and what a lovely view we have of the countryside as we race towards London. Then we went for breakfast (also very civilised!), and finally, on to work.
I had worried that I might forget how to be at work, not just how to do my job. I almost certainly spoke a bit too much to colleagues, so excited was I to be having an adult conversation and to be in a world that was once the biggest part of my life, but otherwise I think I fitted back in rather seamlessly. Predictably some things had changed, but the important details remained the same – how lovely my colleagues are, what interesting work we do, and even my memory of how to do said work seemed to have survived a rather lengthy break!
And Tibbons? He did really well! He even got to do some painting and was tucking into a nice afternoon snack when Daddy-O picked him up, sitting down at the table with his new little friends. I think those that fared worst from the day were my breasts – they were oh-so-full and oh-so-tender when I got in, but thankfully Tibbons was keen to help me out.
So, on reflection, here are my top tips to smooth your’s and your baby’s transition for your return to work:
- Arrange settling sessions for your baby with their childcare provider (even if that’s a relative) to get you both used to the idea and reality of leaving/being left …and to the joy of coming back!
- Try on your work clothes a few weeks before you’re due back so you know if they’re still the right size and fit and more importantly, so you have time to replace them if they’re not. I’d also recommend deciding on your outfit, right down to the underwear and shoes the night before you go back – you don’t want to be running round trying to find your one pair of tights without ladders on the morning you go back to work – there are enough stresses already!
- In fact, I’d say get everything ready the night before – bags for each of you, clothes laid out, that sort of thing.
- Make sure you have a plan for your first lunch hour; and no, sitting looking at photos of your beautiful son or daughter doesn’t count, but sitting down with a nice sandwich, a hot coffee and a good book does. (As does lunch with friends/colleagues!)
- Think about taking in some sugary treats to share with your colleagues – it’ll give them an opportunity to come and say hello, and you could probably use the sugar boost on your first day back.
- Try to enjoy yourself – if your little one is upset at being left, it will be the worst of both worlds if you also spend the whole day worrying and come back tired and frazzled. Far better (if you can) to throw yourself into things and make the most of the time apart. Hopefully this will mean you come back fresher (though probably still tired!) and able to fully appreciate the reunion.
Are you planning to return to work? Or perhaps you’ve already gone back to work after having children? If you have any tips, please add them in the comments below so that others can benefit from your wisdom!