Going Back To Work After Maternity Leave: How Do You Handle Leaving Your Baby?Amongst all the things in life that can make us upset and feel down, going back to work after maternity leave is definitely one of them. Farewell mollycoddling and tickles, hello boss! When is the ideal time to go back to work? And how do you handle missing your baby? We’ve got some advice to help you get through.
Reconnecting with the world of work and with other adults can be tempting, but leaving this bubble, this little cocoon, is very nerve-wracking…
Can you buy some time?
Do we really envy those women who manage to detach themselves from their new-born a few weeks after giving birth to them? Those women who return to work in fighter mode, well-dressed as always and almost invincible? Yes, maybe a bit… but not really… In fact, every woman does what she is able to and wants to do.
In France, women go back to work 10 weeks after giving birth. This means leaving a two-and-a-half-month-old baby, and for some people this is just simply unthinkable. The baby is still so small, so fragile… and by that point, you know you are very attached! If you have the option to, going on maternity allows you to play for a bit of time. The unfortunate downside to this is that, often, you will no longer be paid your salary. It’s therefore something you have to seriously think about.
What is the ideal age to let your baby be looked after by someone else?
Obviously, babies are human beings, so they are unique and don’t all react in the same way. No rules therefore, but you should still bear a few recommendations in mind. Up until they are 4 months old, the baby is very dependent; they are in a period of fusion. The mother is the baby’s only reference. At about 9 months old, your baby might suffer from separation anxiety. During this period, they are scared of people they don’t recognize and cry as soon as you move away from them.
The ideal time to let your baby be looked after by someone else is therefore when they are between 4 and 9 months old, or older than 9 months.
How do you handle being separated from your baby?
You don’t just leave one day, like diving into a swimming pool. Separating from your child after maternity leave requires a bit of preparation.
1. Communicating with your baby
However old they are, you must explain to your child what happens and what is going to happen. Tell them what they are going to do during the day and with who, and always remind them that mummy or daddy will come and pick them up after work.
Don’t skip past the adaptation period often offered by nurseries or childminders. Ask for one if you aren’t offered it.
2. Look for balance
Reconnecting with the outside world and especially returning to work requires you to re-adapt. When becoming a mother, a woman must reinvent herself and find balance between being a woman, a wife and a mother. Achieving that balance requires energy and causes lots of stress and guilt. So, don’t be afraid to trust your partner, colleagues, boss or a psychiatrist or anyone who knows how to advise you and support you.
Obviously, you can also consider getting your partner to help. They must also learn to balance their life as a man and their new life as a dad. Never forget to work as a team and act like one.
3. Take care of yourself
The secret to tackling a scary situation is not only anticipating it, but also physically preparing for it. Before going back to work, take some time out for you, especially since your body has been strained these last few months and you have to regain self-confidence.
Throw away that dried-up mascara you used twice in three months and go to the hair dressers or do a bit of shopping. You will feel much stronger if you arrive at the office with a new haircut and clothes you feel good in.
4. Focus on objects
You can’t keep your child with you, but nothing is stopping you, if you feel the need, from taking objects with you that make you feel good. Be careful, we can see you coming; don’t show up at the office with the 30cm-long cuddly elephant toy, the duvet or the latest photo album! Instead, bring a pair of the baby’s socks, a photo, a little blanket… Whatever it is, take a small item that you enjoy looking at, or crying at (discretely) when you feel a bit down.
Young mum’s opinion – Don’t feel guilty
Leaving your child with a stranger so that you can get on with your life makes you feel guilty, maybe even extremely guilty. This guilt makes you dread being separated from your child. It might be sad to say and even sadder to hear it, but the life of a mother and her child is based on separation. And that’s fine! It’s good for our child, for us and for our relationships. Our child will grow up, learn and discover on their own, and we will both come back together and share all of these experiences.
You might also be interested in: Working Together As A Couple: A Good Or Bad Idea?