Returning to Work: My experience

I haven’t written about returning to work on NHM yet because it was a very painful experience for me. I think it was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. However, three years on, I think I’ve come to terms with it all.

One of the ladies mentioned in the recent NHM Feedback Survey that: ” Would love more tips on balancing going back to work with having young babies, feeding everyone & running a house whilst being the breadwinner & having a lot if work pressure & a blackberry to deal with…!!!”

All I can say is, I feel your pain.

I returned to work when Miss NHM was 5.5 months old. It nearly broke me. I’d planned to return to work when she was 7 months old. However I had to return to work much earlier, partly because we needed the money (I’m the main earner in our family) and also because at the time, if you didn’t return after 6 months, your company didn’t have to give you back the job you left before you went on maternity leave. I spent 15 years getting to a fairly senior position and I didn’t trust that the place that I worked would give me back my previous role.

I also ended up going back earlier than originally planned because I had to start my maternity leave early due to my SPD. I was also drafted for Jury Service when Miss NHM was 8 months old. I had already deferred it once as they wanted me to attend Jury Service when I was 8 months pregnant. Given it was January (snowy season) and I couldn’t get off the sofa without crutches at the time and couldn’t drive, I managed to defer.

However, this was a bit of a logistical nightmare. I was apparently the first person to express as a Juror in over 7 years! lol. It was pretty cool though, as I got out of a huge murder case because I needed to express at lunchtime. Oh and a Jury had to be thrown out of a room because they didn’t have anywhere else that was private enough for me to express! lol. I digress.

The week before I returned to work, I bargained with my husband and cried many bucket loads of tears as I did NOT want to go back to work. Not when my baby was so tiny. I didn’t want her to be looked after by a stranger, three days a week (I was very lucky to return to work 3 days a week for the first three months). I was still breastfeeding and continued to do so for the following three months at work. The first time she came home smelling of someone else was horrific.

The first day back to work wasn’t too bad. The second day was absolutely horrendous. At lunchtime I sat in a cupboard on the floor (because the chair they had arranged for me was actually a rotating stool) using a double breast pump in the only top that I could fit into that was still smart enough for work, sobbing my heart out. Yup, it was horrendous.

Then there was the whole Breastmilk tampering scenario and work accusing me of having post natal depression because I went ballistic when I realised someone had tampered with my breastmilk. Luckily my health visitor at the time totally had my back and told me to tell Occupational Health at work that they didn’t know what they were talking about. Not sure that helped though! lol.

It did get easier though. I stopped crying on the drive to work. I’m pretty sure that having to get up very early to feed Miss NHM and then having Miss NHM cluster feed in the evening didn’t help. Oh and the lack of sleep because she was teething. We got through it though.

I think that’s possibly why I’m a complete nazi at home when it comes to organisation. You have to be. I juggle many, many things. I spent the first 8 months after maternity leave working in the office, doing a job that was absolutely rubbish and not what I had originally signed up for. I spent the whole time wishing I was at home with my baby. I am very, very grateful that it wasn’t full time.

I started using a lot of technology to organise my time. Evernote, Mealboard, Trello, Remember the Milk and the list goes on. I vividly remember the first six months at work my “home” to do list had over 70 “must do” items on every day. It never seemed to end.

My slow cooker came into it’s own as I’ve talked about many times on NHM. I was regimented in everything we did. Once I started to rely on technology, RTM and Evernote came in so handy because I stopped having to try to remember it all. I think that’s half the battle.

I think my one piece of advice for a Mum who is trying to “do it all” is, make sure you take some time out for yourself. Even if it’s just a minute, to take a very deep breath. No one told me that and I went on and on and on and nearly had a breakdown.

Thankfully I had the motivation to find a better job and I managed to secure a new job, which I’m still doing now and which I absolutely love. It helps that I work from home most of the time too, so I don’t have wasted time in a commute.

Working with children is bloody hard. But then, if I spent all day at home with Miss NHM, I would have lost my identity and probably completely lost the plot in a different way. So not working with children is also bloody hard too! lol.

Now I have some perspective and can look back, I’m glad I returned to work when I did. Miss NHM loves nursery and she has never had a problem with clingyness at nursery as it’s always been part of her routine. It was hard though. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, as I said, other than breastfeeding.

Whatever you end up doing it’s going to be wrong for some reasons and right for others. Trying to get over the guilt is half the battle. Trying to get organised is the other half ;-).

Look out for tomorrow’s post which is a list of my suggested strategies for making your return to work that bit easier.

If you are returning to work soon or have returned to work after Maternity Leave, what advice would YOU offer others?

Part Time Work in Basingstoke

I know a lot of Mum’s are looking for part time roles to support their childcare responsibilities. I’ve read a lot recently in the National news about how the Government is supposed to be supporting women at work and how big companies in the UK are looking to remove the “glass ceiling”. I find this quite ironic given that I’ve never seen a part time advertised, unless it’s for administrator, NHS worker or teacher. If the Government and UK companies were really looking to support women in the work place, then flexible working would be advertised and would be far more predominant in the work place. For those of you who can’t return to work for whatever reason (childcare costs, etc.) but are looking to make some money and keep working in some capacity I’ve been doing a bit of research looking into part time work that is available in the area. Below are a few of the things that I’ve discovered that you might be interested in.

Kasia, a NHM reader, contacted me asking me to share details about a part time opportunity for Mum’s in the area: Need to earn some extra money; looking for a change in lifestyle; want to save money on your own skincare and cosmetics; want “a hobby”; want to meet some new friends; looking to do something different; want a new job??? Whatever you are looking for in 2012 Oriflame Cosmetics can help you. Oriflame sells natural cosmetics that have never been tested on animals. You can see more information on the website and even see a catalogue. We are FREE to JOIN, you choose your own hours, and depending on what you are looking for you can earn yourself a few extra £’s a week, and at the same time, have the potential to start to have your own business. If you are interested, please contact Kasia on or click on her Facebook page “Oriflame Basingstoke” for more details.

If you are looking for a part time role, keep an eye on the local press (Gazette and Observer) and it’s always good to put the word out to other friends who might know of opportunities.

There are lots of websites that support working Mum’s looking for opportunities. These are some that I have found which look pretty good:

Mum and working. They also have a Facebook Page. Check out our new flexible work listings

Hope they provide you with some inspiration!

Related Posts

Flexible Working

Parental Leave

Benefits and Entitlements for families

There is a wide range of financial help for families. Some is available to all, some only in special circumstances, and some only if your income is low.

From pregnancy through to your child reaching age 20, state help is available towards the cost of raising a family. Make sure you claim everything you are entitled to.

See the tables later on in this section for a quick guide to state help for families. You’ll find details of some of the key benefits in these other sections:

Most benefits and entitlements are not paid automatically and can be backdated only for a short period. Claim now so you don’t lose out.

Useful contacts

Call rates may vary – check with your telephone provider for their charges.

Parent’s guide to money calculators

Money Advice Service

Child Benefit

HM Revenue & Customs
Tel:           0300 200 3100

Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit

HM Revenue & Customs
Tel:             0345 300 3900

Also see a previous Northhantsmum blog post on tax credits.

Healthy Start vitamins and vouchers

Your midwife or doctor
Tel:           0345 607 6823

Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay

Your employer

Additional Paternity Leave and Pay

Directgov (Great Britain)

Maternity Allowance, Sure Start Maternity Grant, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Widowed Parent’s Allowance

Jobcentre Plus (Great Britain)
See phone book

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

Your local authority (Great Britain)
See phone book

Jobcentre Plus (Great Britain) if applying at same time as other benefits
See phone book

Early education places

Family Information Service (Great Britain)

To find local childcare and nurseries (Great Britain)
Contact your local authority

School-related benefits

Your local education authority (Great Britain)

See phone book

Discretionary Support Fund

Next Step
Tel:             0800 100 900

Student services team at your college

Childcare Grant and Parents’ Learning Allowance

Student Finance England
Tel:             0845 300 5090

For help claiming benefits

Citizens Advice Bureau (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
See phone book (England and Wales) (Northern Ireland)

Community Legal Advice (England and Wales)
Tel:             0845 345 4345

The Perfect Capsule wardrobe

2 x basic tailored trousers in black, grey or brown

1 x pencil skirt in black (dress this up or down)

1 x pair of good fitting jeans

1 x jacket (short style)

1 x winter coat in black, camel, navy, charcoal or red

1 x rain mac in standard beige, camel or statement colour

1 x pair of leather gloves

1 x hat in statement colour of the season

1 x scarf in statement colour of the season

1 x pair of boots black

1 x pair of heels in black

1 x pair of flat shoes in black or brown

1 x pattern shirt/top according to latest trend

1 x cardigan long style in statement colour or black

1 x shirt top long sleeve in black

1 x shirt top long sleeve in white

1 x pattern dress in statement seasonal colour

1 x plain shift style dress in black

1 x pair of leggings

2 x jumpers in seasonal colours (polo, scoop, crew, cowl or round neck)

1 x woollen shawl in seasonal colour or black ( a great alternative to a coat and this look can be very stylish and sophisticated)

2 x tops in seasonal styles and colours

1 x basic white tailored blouse

1 x skinny belt in black

1 x wider belt in statement colour

1 x hand bag (larger style for day wear) in black

1 x clutch bag for evening in black, silver, pewter bronze or gold

Optional extras

Neck scarves in a variety of colours (these help you to co-ordinate your outfit and complete your look)

Statement trend jewellery (don’t be scared to be bold)

Opaque tights (come in a variety of colours these days and look fabulous with heels or boots)

Returning to Work – Maternity Allowance

If you are returning to work within 9 months of your maternity leave start date, you are entitled to include the 10 days “Keeping in Touch” days before your maternity allowance stops (this assumes that you haven’t worked any “keeping in touch days” during your maternity leave).

For example, if you are returning to work full time on the 1st of August your maternity allowance will only stop once you have worked those 10 days, so your maternity allowance will stop on the 15th of August (the day after 10 days have been worked). Please note that any Bank Holiday’s or annual leave are NOT counted as a work day.

If you want to check that this applies to you if you claim Maternity Allowance, please ring 0800 055 6688 and have your National Insurance number with you.

I would imagine that this would also apply for Statutory Maternity Allowance but I don’t have the details for this. If anyone does, please can you share by adding them into a comment below.