A Letter to a Mother Returning to Work

Reality has reared its ugly head. On Monday my bubble will burst as I set foot in work again. It may be only to have a chat about my hours, new team, etc., but it symbolises the start of the end of parental leave and of having entire days to spend with my children.

TSL Returning to Work post

In this excellent post by Helen from The Busy Mama’s blog the nine stages of maternity leave are described perfectly. I find myself at number seven. Eight and nine will follow all too soon. I know from my two previous experiences.

As I spoke to a workmate recently about the Sunday evening feeling I get when I think about returning to the world of office work, she reminded me of the e-mail I sent her a few years ago when she was on the verge of going back to the office and sending her children to creche.

Here it is, slightly amended and addressed to me, now.

Dear Fionnuala,
I know exacly how you feel. On both my previous bouts of parental leave I didn’t want to return to the office. But it all worked out.

You get into the swing of things sooner than you can now believe and your workmates are nicer than you recollect. 

Remember that it is a job. The really important things are your children and that they have a balanced mother.  One who gets to talk to adults during the day and earn money to give them a good life.

When you go back to the office, make it clear to everyone which days you work and which days you don’t. Make sure they understand that your evenings are your own, or rather you family’s. 

Switch your work phone off and be Mama.

On your first day back be prepared for the questions. They will come. Even from people whose names you can’t remember. Stay calm and rattle off the children’s names and ages as often as required.

Remind yourself that the older boys are at school and would still be at school even if you were still at home. 

Nod and agree when people say “Enjoy them while they are still small” even though it breaks your heart that you are miles away from them with no idea whether the little guy is crying for you at creche.

And when you go home that first day, and every day after, leave work behind at the office door. Go home and be Mama. Open your eyes and ears to your children. See to their health and happiness, and to your own. 

Good luck (and keep up the writing!)


I’m sharing this post with Twinkly Tuesday and The Truth About.

22 thoughts on “A Letter to a Mother Returning to Work

  1. Oh, the tears. I remember feeling like I was the worst Mama in the world leaving him behind to go off and then I arrived home and was told that he was absolutely fine, no tears and had been off having an adventure all day. It’s hard and horrible but they are always fine and sometimes better having a bit of independence.

    Good luck going back and I hope you find your stride quickly.

    1. Horrible, isn’t it? But you are right. Generally everything is fine. They need friends around them and a bit of separation does no harm. Harder on the mammies than on the children, I think.

  2. I think my kids did just fine without me when I used to work away from home, I never managed the leaving work at the office door bit though, probably why I gave it all up for Coombe Mill where I could be home with them and working all the time. #TwinklyTuesday

    1. It is trickier to do than to say. I used not be good at leaving work at work. My husband is great at it. I am trying more and more to be myself in my free time rather than letting work consume me.

  3. I have this to come in a couple of weeks’ time. Can’t believe it has come so quickly (it’s the second mat. leave too …) I am dreading it but faintly excited about the prospect of having time to drink tea, etc. It will be ok and, more than that, I do think your children benefit hugely from being able to make friends with people their age as well as other adults independently. Still hard, though. Good luck! #twinklytuesday

  4. I think it’s definitely harder on the mamas than it is on the kids. It did my eldest no harm, he’s 15 now and doing amazingly at school and has a big group of friends. I’m lucky that when pregnant with my second redundancies were announced at work and I saw that as an opportunity to start my own business so can now work around the kids when they’re at school & nursery. But you’re completely right, whether I was working at home or in the office, they’d still be at school anyway #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Yes, I think so too. The children take it all in their stride, while we think too much.
      Good on you for taking redundancy and starting out on your own. I dream of doing that but am too secure in my job to give it up. Maybe some day.
      Thanks for reading!

  5. I actually couldn’t wait to go back to work. Not because I don’t like spending time with my daughter, but because I needed to reclaim that bit of ‘me’ that I’d lost a bit on maternity leave. That and I got seriously bored while she was asleep! I think it also makes me treasure the time we spend together a bit more. Good luck going back to work again 🙂 x #twinklytuesday

    1. I can understand that Kelly. I did feel a little like that when I returned to work the first time. But now that I have three, I am found that I am a different me to the one who had no kids. Each child has changed me a little.

  6. I actually couldn’t wait to go back to work. Not because I don’t like spending time with my daughter, but because I needed to reclaim that bit of ‘me’ that I’d lost a bit on maternity leave. That and I got seriously bored while she was asleep! I think it also makes me treasure the time we spend together a bit more. Good luck going back to work again 🙂 x #twinklytuesday

  7. To a certain extent, I was happy to be back at work again. But on the other hand, I was truly upset because my little boy was supposed to stay with a babysitter. It was just a job but one that was taking too much of my family time. At least, I was trying hard with this one, ‘Go home and be Mama”. Lovely post! 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday

  8. Ah. I went back to work (part time) when JJ was 8 months and then again when EJ was 8 months but I don’t remember feeling quite so conflicted about it! Maybe I was but to be honest I like the balance – I don’t think of myself as someone to whom motherhood came naturally and the thought of being a stay at home mum has always filled me with a feeling of dread! I think everyone gets a good variety of different experiences this way – some days childminders, some days my mum, some days my mother in law, some days their dad, some days me. Obviously not so much once school starts but by then they are used to spending time away from Mum and don’t have any problem with it. Good luck with the transition though, I think your letter sums it up nicely and is a good reminder! Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout again too! X

  9. Love this. It’s been exactly three years since I went back to work (thanks Timehop for the reminder! I remember feeling horrible about it but you do soon get used to it. It’s never easy but it just gets more bearable. Hope your return goes smoothly. Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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