Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

This is going to be the most honest post I’ve ever written. It’s not the post I had planned to put up today, but it’s how I’m currently feeling and if I don’t post it today, I won’t post it at all.

I started drafting this post a few weeks ago when I had just returned to work. Everything was going really well, we were getting back into a routine and I thought – I’ve got this.

Today this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yesterday I had an utterly shit day. I *almost* cried about 5 times from the sheer exhaustion I’m feeling.

Working mum

I returned to work full time 6 weeks ago. I work 9-5, 5 days a week plus 3 hours travelling time (once you’ve factored in walking to and from the station). I’m out of the house for 11 hours a day and I knew it would be hard. I tried to prepare myself, but much like parenthood, nothing can prepare you.

I try not to use this blog as an outlet for negative posts, but I think this is a post many mums can relate to. I imagine most working mums go through this at some point. Up until today I thought I had a handle on it. Yes I was tired, I missed Alfie, I missed our daily walks, our baby groups, our mummy friends. I hate how messy our house has become because I don’t get enough time to clean, I hate the not having much of an evening once I’ve eaten dinner and Alfie has finally gone to bed. But I was coping.  I was doing ok.

Then something happened. I’m blaming teething, because doesn’t everyone! But in all honesty I don’t really know what it is. Alfie has been going to bed as soon as he gets in from nursery at 5.30 but then waking up around 8 and not going back down until 10 or 11 o’clock. He then wakes up numerous times, or once but for 2 or 3 hours at a time.  Out of my husband and I, I do 99.9% of the night shift.

Right now I’m so exhausted I feel like I’m drowning. Having 4 or 5 hours of broken sleep, then heading to work for an 11 hour day is tough. Doing this 5 times a week is killing me. Slowly and surely.

Husband

But I tell myself that it will get better. Alfie will start to sleep through again, the teething (or whatever it is) will pass and we will get back to a normal bedtime and a baby who sleeps. As he has only been sleeping through since his first birthday, I’ve only had about 4 weeks of a full nights sleep, so I don’t miss it too much (that’s a lie, I do really miss it!) I honestly think this stage is harder than a newborn, but we will get through it.

I have no option but to work full time, I can’t change my hours and I have come to terms with the fact my husband won’t get up in the night as much as me and I have to do it mostly on my own. There is nothing I can do to make this better other than catch up on my sleep when I can. So I just have to carry on and find some inner strength.

I worry about making mistakes at work because I’m so tired and getting fired because of it. I know this wouldn’t happen, but it does worry me. My attention span is shocking and I get distracted by the smallest thing as my mind can’t focus. It’s tough. Really tough.

But I’ll get through it. I have to.

I have 4 days off work next week and Alfie is going to nursery for one of those days so my husband and I will get one day to relax child-free. I probably should feel guilty about that, but I don’t. It’s only one day, and one day is all I need to get some me time – some couple time, a day to just casually see a film and have some lunch just the two of us. Then we have the rest of the week to have fun with Alfie. Most of all I can forget about work for the week.

Working mum

So I just want to say – well done to all those working mums. Whether you work full time or part time, it is difficult.  This is not a dig at stay at home mums as I know your job is just as hard. But working mums also deserve the recognition that they do a fantastic job.

I really don’t want this to be a negative post, or to scare any mums who are about to return to work.  I have had a great time being back at work up until these last few days.  But this is how I’m feeling right now and it’s horrible.

I’ve become disinterested in the blog as a result – things are not happening on the blog like I’d like them to.  I feel like no-one is reading, I don’t have a “blogger tribe” like many other bloggers do and I’m wondering if it’s all worth it.  I am spending my precious free time writing, but it feels worthless if no-one is reading or taking any interest.  Maybe this mini-meltdown is a sign I’m not meant to be a blogger, and I have enough on my plate as it is.  Maybe I’m just feeling down and I’ll get back to enjoying the blog again soon.  Who knows.

Sometimes being a working mum sucks. But I have to remember why I’m doing it – to build a better future for my son. And that makes all the late nights, early mornings and tough times in between totally worth it.

Working mum

Have you returned to work recently? How do you feel about it?

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55 Comments

  1. Vicky

    Hey Abi you deserve a medal well done girlie keep going your doing a fab job being a mummy and a PA and i really enjoy reading your blog. Its so hard as lack of sleep kills concentration and any interest in joining in i know that feeling i dont feel i have been able to concentrate since i was about 32 weeks pregnant.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! I know so many mums out there feel the same, but I think it can be hard to admit as you don’t want to come across as not coping! Sleep deprivation is the worst, you just have to tell yourself it’s not forever (and use the commute to catch up as much as you can) xx

  2. Abi, I drafted a post just yesterday which could be your very own paragraph about losing interest in the blog. And you do have a blogging tribe, you have me!!!! (OK, so I’m probably not the best blogging tribe a girl could have, but I hope I’m something!) Chin up lovely, it’ll all look better after some rest xxx
    Mrs Lighty recently posted…Introducing #HappyLittleButtons!My Profile

    • Thank you lovely. I have to admit, that one paragraph was a LOT longer but I cut it as I realised it was very ranty and a bit “woe is me” for my liking. You are of course my biggest fan and I wouldn’t be where I am today without your support (you know I really appreciate that!) xx

  3. All of this is true. What you’re doing is incredibly hard and by rights you should be given a huge medal . We all should. I also work full time, two kids, one of whom doesn’t sleep great. It’s hard and it’s exhausting and you just want someone to recognise that. Don’t feel guilty about anything. Keep on keeping on.

    • Exactly this – knowing that I don’t have to put on a front and pretend everything is hunky dory when I’m struggling is great and I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve been shown. Sometimes you just need other people to say “I hear ya, it sucks but it’ll get better”. Thanks for your comment x

  4. Grace Koutas

    Hey Abi, I went back to work last week and really needed a read like this. I love your blog, and wish I had the sticking power to write my own. Keep writing; you’re doing an amazing job. Xx

  5. Emma

    I go back to work on Monday and am already feeling guilty and dreading not coping with being so tired! My little one is 9 months old and I’m already feeling exhausted without working full time too. It’s nice to know that it’s a normal feeling though and it’s not just me!!

    • I think everyone parent goes through this feeling at some point. Some days are better than others and some days are just a complete write off! Good luck with your return to work, I promise not every day is like this – just make sure you take any support that is offered xx

  6. Zoe Young

    Hiya, this post is amazing, I just want to give you a big hug and tell you you’re doing a brilliant job. It’s deceiving deep feeling I know I have. Thank you!
    Xx

  7. Oh Abi, I feel your pain in your words, but it’s not a negative post. It’s a real post and one that many Mums can probably relate too. I don’t know what to say as you have to work through this time, and you will come through the other side. My husband never got up at night, and when I say never I mean never and there were times when I struggled (what Mum doesn’t?).

    As for blogging? Don’t give up on it yet, it’s a brilliant outlet and a place to connect with other Mumsin the same situation. Make a plan and try and stick with it. Maybe plan to write one post a week? Two posts a month? It doesn’t matter. Just don’t stop (not yet). Take a break with the intention of coming back. We all need a break sometimes and it can work wonders (just don’t stop). Try keeping your community alive by getting around some blogs whilst you commute, even if it’s only two or three blogs.

    If you try all of the above and still feel like stopping, then step away. The world of blogging will always be here, when life isn’t so full on for you.

    Take care and hang in there!

    xx
    Debbie recently posted…Common Garden SnailMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for your comment, it’s really nice to hear from other mums (and bloggers!) in the same situation. I’ve had a week off work and haven’t blogged and it’s been really nice to just spend some quality family time together, catch up on all the admin bits I need to do and actually reading some great blogs that I haven’t had a chance to do for ages! I’m now feeling much better and am so glad I wrote this post. Thanks for reading xx

  8. Oh lovely, I felt exactly the same when I returned to work full time after having my first. One day I locked myself in the toilet and sobbed my heart out. I managed a year and then I was lucky enough to be able to adjust my hours to 4 days a week but it is so tough! It’s the trying to juggle everything and those sleepless nights and then having to do a full day in work are a killer.
    And as for the blog, I feel like that all the time, often like I am just writing for me and that no one is reading but maybe that’s okay. I don’t think I’ll ever have the time to dedicate hours to it so I’ve made my peace with that.
    A tough post to write but one almost all working mums can identify with. xxx

    • Thank you for your comment – it is tough, and I have come to realise that sometimes you just need to admit it, express how you feel, let people help you when you need it, and have a cry if you need to! I have had a break from blogging whilst being on holiday, and I’ve missed it which I think shows me I’m not ready to give it up yet, but I should have a break as and when I need to. As much as I love it, my health and happiness are more important right now, and sometimes a step back and a break can give you a better perspective. Thanks for stopping by xx

  9. You poor thing – I remember hitting this same brick wall when I went back to work! It’s horrible and only other parents who have done this can relate. Like you my husband doesn’t get up in the night unless I am physically incapacitated (which happened once with a stomach bug which he got the next day so I was back to struggling out of bed…) so any sleep issues and I take the biggest hit. You’ll get back in your stride though. I’ve been back at work almost 8 months (I do 3 compressed days with similar travel to you) and it has got easier. But I’ve had to be kind of myself and also become exceptionally regimented to keep on top of housework.

    It sounds like you deserve your days off next week. And do NOT feel bad for sending your son to nursery. We’ve just had 2 weeks off and my daughter went to nursery for all 6 days she would normally go. It was WONDERFUL! Plus she got better entertainment there and was more than happy.

    Best of luck and just take a breath and keep going as best you can.

    #MarvMondays
    Angela Watling recently posted…30 Days Blogging – Day 5: My favourite SuperheroMy Profile

    • It’s exactly that – I felt like I was doing fine, but a few nights of no sleep really hit me! Ha, same, the last time my husband did a night waking was when I had a stomach bug (but as I was breastfeeding, I still had to feed Alfie whilst Craig held a bucket over him for me to throw up in – not my finest hour!) I think having some time of work has helped me to get on top of everything and now I feel more in control and able to cope with everything. Thanks so much for your comment x

  10. Wow this post really struck me. I’m returning to work in 3 weeks and am currently dreading it. I don’t really have any words of wisdom for you but I will say it sounds like you are doing an amazing job. Managing full time work and a family is a huge achievement. Ok the house might not be spotless but you’re doing what is really important, providing for your family and caring for them when they need you. Definitely do not feel guilty about taking a day for your husband ad yourself to be child free, it definitely sounds like you deserve it.

    As for blogging if you’re not feeling the love for it at the moment then take a step back. You can always return to it when you are feeling more able to or more interested. As of my posting this comment there are 18 comments on this post so people are definitely reading, it might not be millions but we’re here.

    Hope things start to feel easier for you soon and I look forward to reading more if you decide to stick with the blog. #MarvMondays

    • I hope I haven’t worried you about returning to work – on the whole it has been good, it’s just sometimes you hit a wall, but you just have to admit and ask for help! Since having some holiday, I’ve been able to reassess my priorities, get back into a routine and get back to enjoying work, my family and blogging. Thanks for reading! xx
      Something About Baby recently posted…Returning to Work after Maternity LeaveMy Profile

  11. Oh Abi. It’s tough. Having worked most of Paisley’s life and having her wake at least 4 times a night (if I’m lucky) from 4 months I can relate to the sheer exhaustion. With a bad day you’ll get a better day. I found a few early nights helped to catch up. I should also add my husband does get up and try to settle her that first time but more often than not she wants me and will scream until she has me so it’s not always the answer we need. Hope you enjoy(ed?) your couple time and make it a regular thing xx

    • I know you totally get how it feels! Especially being a breastfeeder and seeming like the only one that can settle baby on a bad night. Now the teeth have cut, our nights have been getting better, and the rest of the week of work should bring us some well deserved rest! Thank you for your comment xx

  12. This is such an honest, fabulous post. You are doing the most amazing thing. I returned to work last week – I work 4 days, 9-5 – and my husband is out of the house from 6am-8pm so I do all the childcare alone. Dressing a 3yr old and a 1yr old, then giving them breakfast, doing a dog walk, taking them to nursery, driving to work, putting in a full day, driving back and doing the same the other end left me so exhausted last week that I thought I was drowning too. And we didn’t have any disturbed nights! I am also doing this to set a good example and build a better future for them both but I must say at the weekend I was beginning to question it. Don’t despair, please. I don’t have a ‘tribe’ in the blogging world either – I don’t really have the time to feel as if I can put what I want to into it so I feel a bit lonely sometimes – but I do LOVE doing the blog and although last week I lost my mojo a bit, this week it’s come back. Please keep going – with the job and the blog – but keep having time off too and putting family first. It’s the only thing that REALLY matters in the end. #marvmondays

    • Thank you for your lovely comment. I couldn’t imagine doing what you do – TWO kids largely on your own, as well as a dog?! But I love how there are so many mums in the same situation and can understand what I’m going through. Having had a break from the blog this week, I’ve come to realise that I do love it and I do miss it, I just need to figure out the right amount of time for family, work, chores and blogging! Thanks so much for stopping by xx

  13. I seriously don’t know how you do it! Super Mummy! I work three days a week as a drama teacher and have a two year old and find that hard enough with the extra work I have to do at home. My heart really went out to you because I don’t think I could survive an 11hr day with that little sleep. I hope you enjoy your child free day and manage to catch up on sleep too. I’m sure the not sleeping phase will pass and you’ll come out the other end smiling. Xxx

    • Oh thank you, I don’t feel like much of a super mummy after that moan though! The sleeping has been much better this week so I feel like a new woman (almost). Our child free day was lovely but I missed the little monster a lot and we picked him up earlier than originally planned (standard parenting though right?!) Thanks for your comment x

  14. Oh honey, im so sorry you feel like this at the moment. Being a working mum is tough. Its really TOUGH. Its a constant exhausting juggling act, and whilst we didnt have the sudden change in sleeping patterns with our little one, just keeping all the plates spinning on a day to day basis was hard. I went back to work when our little one was 10 months old so there were still the night and early morning feeds, all of which I used to do and had to do becuase I was breastfeeding, and even the little one eventually switched to formula I still did all the feeds which used to grate me, but I came to accept like you have. Its rubbish sometimes, but it definitely gets better at some point. I think I lost interest, and mostly time in blogging for at least 6 months after I went back to work because something just had to give. But when the time was right and the motivation (and energy) was back, I came back to it. I enjoy reading your blog, although admittedly I dont get much blog reading in these with the newborn, but my point is dont feel like your blog doesnt have worth because it does 🙂 Take things one day at a time and most importantly be kind to yourself. Youre doing a great job. Emily x

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment. My husband uses the breastfeeding as an excuse as to why there’s no point him getting up too, which in a way I guess is true, but I’m not sure that will change when I stop breastfeeding! I think I need to find the right balance between work, family, chores and blogging, and use my time more wisely (I get way too distracted on social media, but not even good social media!). Taking a break this week whilst I’ve been on holiday has been fantastic for me, given me a new perspective and a renewed love for writing. Just what I needed I think. Thanks for stopping by xx

  15. Oh love! Such a fantastic post – I’m so glad you wrote it and posted it and I hope the act of writing it down was helpful. You will have times when you’ve got it nailed and you will have times when it all crumbles. I’m due back in work in November so no doubt will be posting about that then. What really resonated with me those where you said you have to accept your husband isn’t going to get up in the night. I have that issue too, and with housework, and I’m virtually certain it won’t change when I go back to work, but reading what you say I’ve reached the conclusion that I too just need to accept it rather than grumbling and resenting it as I am at the moment as that’s the wrong way to be.
    Also, don’t worry about the blog – I mean how often to unmummsy mum and hurrah for gin post? There’s no rule saying you need blog 3 times a week. Write from the heart and the rest will follow.
    #bloggerclubuk

    • Thank you for reading – I hope I haven’t worried you about your return to work! I have to say, it’s taken 6 weeks to all come crashing down, so you have time to prepare 😉 I’m lucky that my husband is pretty good in all other aspects of being a husband and father, he does more than his share of housework and is a pretty equal parent, it’s just the night times I have to deal with! I’ve had a break from blogging this week whilst I’ve been on holiday and it has been good, but I have missed it. Just need to find that balance. Thanks for stopping by xx

  16. Love to read a good honest post! I totally relate to lack of sleep, it’s a killer. Please stick with the blogging, don’t lose heart. Sending blog tribe love xx

  17. Crikey, what a week. I want to give you a hug. Our youngest is going through another horrendous nights phase, and I’m barely coping without doing an 11 day shift…
    Re. the blogging, don’t give up just yet but maybe a little break or cutting back on linkies (she says as a linky host!) might help… blog when you feel like it and don’t if you’re too tired… The urge will come back when you’re feeling more engaged. Get some rest lovely. Hat off to you for your honesty xx
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    • Thank you! I thought I’d got used to no sleep, but no sleep on maternity leave is waaaaay different to no sleep with a full time job! Just another thing I have to get used to as a mum! Now the teething is over (this episode at least!) we’ve all been getting more sleep (except the husband – he’s been getting the same amount 😉 ) so I feel a lot better. Funnily enough the linkies keep me feeling involved in blogging when I don’t actually blog, so even when I’m not writing and posting, I love a linky (especially yours, obvs!) Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  18. Frankly I can’t believe you’re still finding the time to blog! Eleven hours a day is a long time – I went back to work about nine weeks after Little B was born and although I usually work from home I was doing shifts at the Daily Mail which would take me out of the house for 12 hours at a time. I felt terrible! #marvmondays

  19. Hugs sweetie, you are doing fab and don’t ever forget that. I am also a working Mum, went back full time after my 1st (also an Alfie!) and now work 3 days a week doing 10.5 hour shifts so leave early and don’t get home till after 7 – it is tough so I feel for you. Do you know what it’s ok to have couple time and it’s ok to have own time, no need to feel guilty it’s called gaining back some energy. Also don’t blog for the sake of it blog when you want to and can. Lovely post, thanks for sharing such a personal post with the #bestandworst

    • Thank you for your lovely comment – it’s so great to hear from mums in a similar position and that it’s ok to have a meltdown once in a while. A holiday from work and a break from blogging have done me the world of good, and I feel ready to come back and face the world…until the next time we have a teething episode that is!! Thanks for hosting #bestandworst

  20. I’m now on maternity from work but I feel your pain of doing a long day after no/broken sleep, it is difficult!! Even though I’m on maternity, we’ve been putting my eldest in nursery at least once a week. We didn’t plan to at first and I felt guilty at first but now it gives me a well-needed break and I’m a better Mummy when he’s with me! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. xo

    • I figure having a newborn AND a toddler is just as hard as doing a full week at work on no sleep, so I reckon you feel my pain! It was lovely to have a child free day, so although I felt guilty about leaving Alfie at nursery, we did enjoy our date day but picked him up early and spent some family time together as well. Thanks for hosting #MarvMondays

  21. Ahhh… your post brought me right back to when I returned to work after having Little Button. It is really tough, whether you are returning to work out of need or choice. I still think that lack of sleep is the ultimate thing that can really pull you down. But… it does get better. The older they get, they do sleep more through the night and eventually you will start grabbing back a few hours of sleep and things will seem so much different. Hang on in there 🙂

    The #DreamTeam tribe has your back, and if you ever need a chat just DM me lovely. xx
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky 20My Profile

    • Thanks you lovely! After a few nights of better sleep the world seems OK again. It’s amazing how no sleep with a newborn is a while different ballgame to no sleep when you have work the next day – I thought I’d experienced tired before not so much! Our break from work has done us all the world of good and I’m feeling so much more positive now. Thank you so much for your support and hosting a lovely linky xx

  22. Juggling work and home is so hard. I always find the boys are up half the night if I have a big meeting to go to the next day. It is like they have a built in radar. I hope it feels easier for you soon hun x #MarvMondays

  23. Oh luv, look at all these comments people are reading xx it’s hard very hard! I’m a working mum – before having my second I would squeeze 50 hours a week in workwise and still try to blog. I so feel where you are. Although on mat leave at the mo I’ll be going back to the same 50 hour week. So if you want to start a tribe I’m in it. Xxx #marvmondays #bloggerclubuk xx
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…#RememberingTheseDays Week 10My Profile

  24. You poor thing, this is such an emotional time for you that’s clear. I see from the comment you left on mine that people have made you feel a lot better but I know nobody (but your husband) can help with the exhaustion. I launched the blog because I live in a country where wages are dreadful and I have no family network so it’s pointless trying to work as we have constant holidays and days off school and my hubby works every God sends so working and raising kids is just a no no. And as you read in my post, just blogging was exhausting enough!! I honestly would fall apart if I had to work too as I just couldnt cope (she said sounding like a princess!) and TOTALLY tip my hat to you ladies.
    Lastly, I was blissfully unaware of the whole blog tribe thing (thankfully as I would have felt intimidated and found it all cliquey anyway) but was lucky enough to just fall into one some time later…and the lovely thing is when you don’t chase something in life, it often ends up coming to you. Ergo, this post…you seem to have generated a tribe after writing this, yay! Big hugs #coolmumclub

    • Thank you very much for your lovely comment, it really means a lot! I think I have had to find a good balance, and realise that you cannot “have it all”, all of the time. I am learning to not sweat the small stuff, my blog is being read by the people that matter and at the moment I should just be enjoying that.

  25. Apart from the number of children and hours of work, I could have written the exact same words. After returning to work in September after my third baby I was convinced I was on top of everything. Then my eldest broke his wrist badly and needed an op then the baby got poorly and admitted to hospital. Throw in teething and all sorts of other things I just began to crumble. My blog has also started to suffer too. My lovely little outlet.

    My advice, tell hubby night shift needs to be shared. I did recently after I told him I couldn’t cope with everything. Even if he gets up to change a nappy and administer calpol before you get up and take over. Secondly, remember you have limits. I have been to my GP and asked for a week off work due to exhaustion. If Alfie is in nursery you will get time to rest. Or if you don’t want a sick note just book in regular leave. Days off for yourself. I love a cheeky mid day cinema trip. If you can recruit a help with the housework. If you can’t, buy disposable wipes for the bathroom and kitchen etc so you can do little bits as you go. Little steps will make things feel more manageable.

    Final word from me, look after yourself. If you are struggling say it out loud. Most people understand. Well done for keeping it going, you are a star. Enjoy your time off, make a plan, do a little prep and keep it simple. This time is hard, but they stop teething and eventually they sleep again. Take care lovely and thank you for a wonderfully honest post xxx

    • Thank you so so much for your lovely reply. It has really put a smile on my face, firstly to know that someone is going through the same thing and I am not alone, but also your suggestions and understanding. It is tough being a mum, it’s even harder being a working mum, and sometimes everything just gets on top of you. Thankfully, since I wrote this post, things have gotten better, although it is still incredibly hard. I am getting better at accepting help and saying no to things that I just can’t do, but also at accepting that working life is different now and I just have to adapt. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and send such a lovely reply. I really hope things get better for you too xx

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