TIPS FOR MOMS WHO ARE READY TO RETURN TO WORK


Returning to work after having a baby can be scary and exciting at the same time. Here’s how to manage the juggle.


South Africa’s Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that mothers are entitled to four months of maternity leave. Many doctors support this, noting that 12 weeks is sufficient time for a mother to bond with her baby, heal from childbirth and get to grips with the exhaustion that’s part of motherhood.

The reality is that leaving your baby is not easy, no matter how important your salary is or how much you love your job. So don’t wait until the end of your maternity leave to prepare for the transition.



South Africa’s Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that mothers are entitled to four months of maternity leave.

ONE MONTH BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK
Shireen Motara, a life coach who specialises in empowering women, says it’s normal to feel anxious in the weeks before returning to work. ‘You might be worried about leaving your baby for the first time, or feel stressed about having the right care arrangements in place – or find it difficult to get into a working mindset.’ If possible, ease yourself back into work mode by visiting your workplace in the weeks before you return – your colleagues will look forward to meeting your baby too!



Carer arrangements
Start your search for a creche or nanny well ahead of time, so you return to work knowing your baby is familiar with their carer. Get baby used to your not being there, by leaving them with the caregiver – first for a short period and then increase the time, so that by the time you go back to work the baby is comfortable with your absence.

Love yourself!
‘As women,’ says Motara, ‘we tend to put everyone else first at the expense of our own health and wellbeing.’ She advises slowly introducing a self-care routine to support your physical and mental wellbeing. For example, in the last week before going back to work, go to the gym or for a run for 30 minutes while the baby is with the caregiver. Exercise not only strengthens your body, but it also helps lift your mood.

FIRST WEEK BACK
Don’t expect your separation anxiety to disappear immediately, Motara warns; it’s likely to continue well into the first few weeks of work.

You’ll also find yourself juggling your duties as a mother and an employee, so be kind to yourself.

Delegate
Again, do what you can to avoid feeling flustered. Plan and delegate as much as you can, says Motara. Prepare for your day the night before, and use your weekends to get ahead of weekly chores like shopping. If possible, hand over tasks to your carer or family members. Consider asking your boss for flexible hours where possible while you get used to your new routine. ‘And remember,’ says Motara, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff! If you feel stressed, take some time out to have coffee with a friend.’


Get quality sleep
Since you can no longer catch up on sleep while your baby’s napping, it’s vital to get enough rest to keep you powered through the day and make sure your body and mind can function optimally. ‘In order to get quality sleep,’ says life coach Cat Cade, ‘avoid drinking coffee after 2pm, and limit your screen time before bedtime.’ It might also help to practise relaxation techniques like focusing on your breathing, listening to calming music or meditation.

Be patient & present
Cade also suggests keeping a notebook near your bed so that you can record the thoughts spinning through your head – you are, after all, likely to be on an emotional roller-coaster right now. ‘Patience is key,’ she says. ‘It’s normal to feel overwhelmed as you try to adjust to your two worlds and two identities coming together. Be kind to yourself, because your happiness and wellbeing have a big impact on your baby. Accept that guilt is a natural emotion, but try to live in the moment so that when you are with your child, you are totally present. Share your feelings with close friends who have been through the same thing, and with your partner – their support is crucial at this time.’

AFTER A MONTH
After a month, you’ll probably feel more balanced and have a better sense of how to handle your dual responsibilities. You’ll probably also have established a rhythm with your carer, which should help to minimise anxieties. If there are areas where you are struggling, whether at home or work, be sure to assert yourself: tell your partner if he needs to pick up more responsibility, or ask your manager for more support.

Lose the guilt!
‘You might feel guilty about enjoying being back at work. Don’t! You have done all you can to make sure your baby is in good hands, and you are entitled to be more than just a mother and nurturer,’ Motara concludes.

BALANCE YOUR TIME
Follow these tips for better time management

1. Don’t ignore your wellbeing. Take five minutes – whether to enjoy a cup of tea or sing to your favourite song – to help you transition from ‘mom world’ into ‘work world’.
2. Take a lunch break. Stepping away from your desk will make you more productive.
3. Be clear on expectations: Make sure you know exactly what is required in your role at work, and check if there is any training or shadowing needed to get you back on track and do your job more efficiently.

By LISA WITEPSKI


TIPS FOR MOMS WHO ARE READY TO RETURN TO WORK TIPS FOR MOMS WHO ARE READY TO RETURN TO WORK Reviewed by Jet Club on May 31, 2019 Rating: 5

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