Tips and advice from other mums to help make the transition back to work easier.
Whether you're excitedly counting down the days to return to work after maternity leave, or you're filling up at just the thought of leaving your little one, it can feel overwhelming no matter what your circumstances are.
What can you do to make this transition easier? We've asked members from our platform of mum groups for their advice on balancing childcare with returning to work.
"Be patient! I was so upset in the first month and felt like I was placing my baby in a disease pit even though I love my job and needed to go back! After a month or two, these feelings go and you will see the rewards of daycare. Our little girl started at 7 months and it’s such a wonderful environment for her."
"Also be patient with yourself. It feels so weird for the first couple of weeks, but you get used to it, as will she."
Go To Orientation Days:
"Do as many orientation days as possible before she starts so she can get used to everything there. We did short stays first then half days and progressed up to full days over a month. Worked well for us."
Prepare For Sick Days:
"The sickness was really annoying; for us it took a good year, but now she seems bomb proof and only gets one cold a year possibly. She really loves going there and it has been such a fantastic thing for our family. Good luck!"
"Just be prepared that your return to work might be a lot of sick days... we had sickness the first six months. It just comes with daycare!"
"I would honestly look at putting your little one on a probiotic as it helps them from not getting as sick, and if you like your job and don't want to go back full time then take every Wednesday or Friday off work by using your annual leave, or maybe your husband can have a day off work each week and do a daddy day. Lots of work places do parental leave for dads now. You need to find what works for you and your family. Good luck."
Be Kind To Yourself:
"My only tip is be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up if she's a little sad. You're a good mum and your doing the right thing."
"I think every kid is different and it's just something you've both gotta do and get through. No one can really tell you how it's going to be."
"Honestly it's harder for you than them. My son has just started daycare and loves it, but he isn't full time. We did a few play dates before he started and he was fine."
"I was lead educator in the babies room at a centre for 5 years and helped many parents through this difficult time. It honestly is harder for you than the baby (there is so much going on and lots of distractions for them)."
" Take it easy and remember it will get easier! I put my son into nursery for a few days before I went back which meant that I was at home in case he needed me... he was fine and I enjoyed a nice few days to myself."
"Don't overdo it. If you feel yourself struggling go and talk to someone. On the flip side you'll really enjoy having an uninterrupted cup of coffee. Make you lunch break some valued me time."
Trust The Staff:
"It's hard for the first few weeks – hardest part is learning to trust the staff. Call them all the time as often as you want, to check how everything is going. It gets easier (although we had about 6 weeks of constant sickness, that was fun :-/) Re routines... the staff will have to work that one out for themselves, don't force your routine on them. Be flexible with that."
"I recommend talking to your babies teacher, get to know them, form a positive relationship so your baby can see you trust them and they will too. Most centres are more than happy for you to call as many times as you need during the day to check in on your little one and some may even send you photos so you can see what they're up too."
"Just make sure you get organised; have dinner prepped where possible or easy dinners so that you can spend time with little one at night. Always do bag and work prep the night before once bub has gone down so that mornings aren't rushed."
"Tips would be get everything ready the night before... EVERYTHING (even cereal poured, daycare bag in car etc). One of my biggest ‘stresses’ was needing to be ‘on time’ and feeling pressure in the morning when things aren’t going to plan. Allow some extra time for drop off to talk to staff etc. Always give them your phone numbers (or several) and be certain to sign a consent form for the administration of Panadol in case of fever. I know it’s hard to feel positive about it... but your child will pick up on your vibe, even that young, so keep upbeat about the process and who they are going to see (their friends, the educators, fun things to do). Good luck!"
"If you're taking your babies sheets in for sleep get them to sleep on them the night before so they have her familiar scent on them. Make sure everything is labelled clearly and write up a routine you want the staff to follow for your baby too ☺️ Good luck. I'm sure you will both do just fine!"
"Label everything in large print, including socks and hats. The easier it is to see your child's name, the less chance you have of them loosing things. Pack a spare dummy in case she decides to leave hers in a basket of toys. Use nail polish to paint on a rectangle to her bottles, then write on the dried nail polish with a permanent marker. If you just write on the bottle it forever washes off. Very annoying. And start at least one week before you start work. Time for you to adjust. Make sure you download your daycare's app where they share photos and narrative of what they have been up to that day. This will give you reassurance that although they may put on a performance when you drop them off, they are actually having fun."
"I've used some leave to work half days for the first month back to get used to early starts and ease into a morning routine. Getting everything ready at night for the next day is a massive help too, so you don't have to do too much to get out the door on time. We have fallen into co-sleeping as baby has been poorly due to teething, and it helps everyone get a little bit more sleep."
"Meal plan and set up a supermarket delivery for the weekly shopping! Bedsharing if it works for you, to make up for the change in daytime cuddles and so everyone gets a bit more sleep during the transition."
When my daughter started daycare, I spent a lot of time trying to find the right fit for her and our family. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. Over and over again though, the answer to my question would come back the same, "she'll be fine."