Should I go back to work?

Figuring out when/if you should go back to work can be difficult and as a new mum is one of the toughest decisions to make. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the factors you have to consider: What's best for the baby? What's best for you? Can you afford to stay home? Who will care for your baby if you don't? There are no right or wrong answers and you are the only person who can decide what is right for you and your family.

I read somewhere that the first six weeks after giving birth is considered the 'normal' length of 'disability' leave following delivery. There is no way I could have gone back to work after 6 weeks, I was still walking around in a zombified state due to lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion at that point. I’m quite sure that nobody in their right mind would have wanted me dealing with their finances/bank accounts in that state!

Whether you've had 2 months off or 2 years, returning to work can be a very emotional time that comes with conflicting feelings - feeling guilty about leaving your baby, excitement about getting your old life back, guilt that you're feeling relieved to be away from your baby, missing your baby, and worrying if you remember how to do your job. All these emotions are completely normal!

So should you go back to work?

It's a tough one. Today you think you should, yesterday you could never imagine doing so, and the next day it might seem impossible!

I have done both, when I had my daughter I returned to work when she was 5 months old due to a lack of options really - I had rent/bills to pay and needed to go back to work. I was very fortunate to have a flexible job at the time and was able to work evenings and weekends and still got to spend my days with her. As she got older and our situation changed we needed to put her in nursery for 4 days a week, we didn't really have any other options at the time and it was very difficult at first - more for me than her, she loved it! The worst part was missing a lot of her milestones like her first steps and not being the one to teach her and help her development.

When we had our son a few years later I was due to return to work after a year off but I knew deep down that I really didn't want to. I made it as far as my return to work interview and was all set to go back until the day before I was due to return, my husband sensed how I was feeling and told me that if I wanted to stay at home we would manage financially and that he fully supported my choice. So I did! I was a stay at home mum until not long after he turned 4 and started school, it was hard at times but was definitely worth it, I didn't miss a single milestone and as his main educator I know that he was being raised the way that my husband and I wanted. Now all I have to feel guilty about is not doing the same for our daughter.

Just as no two babies are the same, no two mum’s situations are the same. So when the time comes to decide what’s right for you, ignore the peer pressure (everyone will have an opinion on what you should do) and talk about it with your partner. Whether you decide to stay-at-home, work full or part-time, juggling it all can be tough but you'll manage - it's what mums do best!

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