Big news this week – my wife went back to work part-time and so after asking her how she felt, it got me thinking about how other mums might feel about going back to work.
To help me understand a little more, I posted a questionnaire up on several mummy and baby Facebook groups; the responses were brilliant and so varied:
‘There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed. But in the eyes, heart and mind of your child, you are super mom.’ – Stephanie Precourt
To put how a woman must feel leaving her child/children to go back to work into perspective, it is like leaving a body part at home, then magnify how you would feel a million times. A mother needs her child as much as a child needs their mum; they are part of you no matter how much distance there is. Being a mum is the hardest job in the world, to take on another job or career, well that basically makes you super-human as far as I’m concerned.
Now that you are a super-mum, going to work, cleaning, cooking and kids are hard to balance, even for a superhero. It is paramount that you find time for yourself, even if it is something as small as a couple of hours reading a book in a relaxing coffee shop; because if you don’t one of these things are going to give. I don’t know many people who have great enthusiasm for cooking, and almost none for cleaning, so don’t let your enthusiasm for being around your children squander because you couldn’t take a break.
You’re going to do what?
It seems most of the ladies I questioned have had a backlash from either a relative or close friend, when choosing to be a working mum. Just remember you are you, and you alone have your reasons for going back to work. Some will be older relatives who grew up in a time where a woman working whatsoever was rare, let alone as a mother as well. Remember there are some mothers who provide the only or primary source of income for their families, we live in the 21st century now after all. Some critical people may be close friends, these are usually ones that have decided to be a full-time mum, always respect their decision as they should respect yours.
You are not alone.
One thing stood out above all else when I put my questions to the groups, the way you feel about going back to work, you are not alone. Where some were a lot more excited than others, they all had their guilt’s and worries. Thankfully we live in a world that is open to us through the World Wide Web; there are people out there ready to listen to your concerns. There are lots of mummy groups with parents more than willing to share they’re advice and experiences.
It’s the moments that you will have with your children, whether it’s in the morning before work, or at night before sending them off to bed, those moments will become so much more special. As a working father there is no better way for me to end a day at work, by coming home to my two beautiful boys, my favourite time is bath time as I get to have a muck around with them before they settle down for sleep. Phones, computers and televisions can be very distracting, we all know that. So it is vitally important when being a working parent to engage with your children at the times when they do see you. They will love you further more for the full and undivided attention that you do give them when mummy comes home.
Feel human again
We all know spending so much time around children can all but turn your brain to jelly, going off to work gives you a chance to be you again, it gives you your sense of identity back.
It is no longer uncommon to see working mums, all with their own reasons for going back to work. For most it will be to balance the books with a need for more income, we all know how expensive children can be. But some will go back to work just to gain that sense of individuality again; some will have a career that they worked a large chunk of their lives to get. As one mother said to me, it makes a change to go somewhere you can close the door when going for a pee.
I was surprised and disgusted to learn that in this country 1 in 4 mums who have returned to work believe they have been discriminated against, either before or after the birth of their child. If you ever feel this way, talk to someone and take action if necessary. Maternity discrimination needs to end, the way society in the workplace views pregnant or new mums needs to change and that wont happen if you don’t speak up. You may need to go back to work with flexibility, your child must always come first so make sure your employer understands the reasons for your requests.
Please understand that although I would jump in-front of a moving train for my children, I acknowledge how strong a mother-child bond is and I can only guess how hard it is for you to leave your child for work. The content of this blog is purely through asking select mothers themselves, you may feel entirely different. To those of you about to go back to work and are struggling to come to terms with this, take heart in the knowledge that every single other mother who responded to me about going back to work, they felt the same. Every mother that responded already a working mum, they had no regrets and were happy for their decision. So it seems you may feel like this, but it will pass.
Thanks for reading.
To read about the Mojomums teams choices when returning to work after maternity leave click here.