Going back to work after your maternity leave is a big change for you, your family, and especially your baby. As well as balancing your work duties in the office and at home, you’ll need to organise childcare and fit in family time. We’ll guide you through what you need to consider before you get back to work.
How can I find childcare that fits around my working hours?
You can choose from a range of childcare options that are available now a days. Most of them can accommodate any kind of working hours, so you should be able to find one that suits you:
Day care centres or crèches. These are more common in cities and are usually open between 7am and 7 pm on weekdays. In some metros, daycare centres may offer extended hours and some may even be open for 24 hours to cater to the growing number of parents working night shifts.
Part-time maids, ayahs or nannies. These work well for those mums who need a child carer for a few hours during the day and don’t want live-in help.
Live-in maids. These work well for parents with long working hours, travel often for business and have unpredictable work schedules.
A trusted family member . Usually people in living in joint families find it easier to rely on some family member to look after their child. Usually one finds grandparents are flexible and happy enough to look after your child, whenever it is required.
It's a good idea to see different people and places before making a decision. This will give you an idea about types of childcare available, and the variety in quality and cost.
I’m not sure whether to return to work or be a stay at home mum. How can I make up my mind?
Base your decision on what feels right for you and your child. If you really want to get back to work after having your baby, then do so. However, if you’d rather care for your baby instead of putting him in childcare, then stay at home. Looking after you child is a full-time job. What’s best for you financially may also play a big part in your decision. Going to work may mean that you will have to pay for childcare for your baby. Childcare can be expensive and you may have to take into account other expenses such as keeping an additional maid for the cleaning or cooking. Covering all these costs may make you feel that staying at home with your baby is a better option.
However, perhaps you don’t want too long a break in your career, even if you don’t save that much after bearing childcare costs. Or if it isn’t about the money, you may like to start off with flexible working, if it is an option. This may help you plan your work around your baby’s routine. In the end, it is important to be happy with what you choose. Your child will benefit much more from a content mum than one who is unhappy. Read our article on deciding whether to return to work for more advice.
How can I cope with going back to work in an office?
Show that you are committed to your job, but make it clear you need to keep to strict working hours. This should give you time to get your work done, and allow you to leave promptly to collect your child from childcare. Ask to be given as much notice as possible if you're required to work longer hours or take a business trip. This means you can be prepared to inform your childcare in advance or sort out back-up care. If you find yourself overloaded with work, you may be able to find a way to prioritise or delegate to a colleague.
Also try to keep your mind off how your child is coping at childcare while you're working, so you stay focused on your job. Only contact your carer during the day if you really need to. Likewise, they can contact you if they really must. Otherwise you are bound to pick the time when your child is crying, which will worry you for the rest of the day. If you want to stay in contact when you first return to work, ask your carer to call or text you when your child is napping or quietly playing. Read our article on working in the office for more advice.
How can I work at home?
To tackle most work at home jobs you'll almost certainly need some regular childcare. So decide what time of day you would like to work, then organise childcare to fit in. For example, if your brain is sharpest in the mornings, book childcare for those hours. Then you have a set period of the day to get everything done. There are lots of different childcare options, so take the time to explore what's available. The right childcare decision frees you to concentrate on work, knowing that your child is being well looked after. When you're working try to keep yourself free from distractions. Plan chores for set times of the day, so they won't eat into your working hours. Also tell friends and family what hours you'll be working, and ask them not to contact you at those times. Set up your work space, too. If there isn't anywhere obvious in your house, think whether you could you set up in the store, guest bedroom or dining room. Ideally, find a place where work can be left out, so you don't have to clear away each time. If necessary, store work items where your child can't get at them, such as on high shelves or in lockable cupboards. Read our article on working at home for more advice.
How can I fit in quality time with my child as a working parent?
First of all, don't feel guilty and don't try to cram in too much to make up for lost time. There are some simple ways to fit in quality time with your child, even if you're working full-time:
Have a routine so your child will know when he will see you. So on weekdays, be there to wake up your child, give him breakfast, and if possible, take him to childcare. And try to collect him at the end of the day and hear all about what he's been doing.
When you're with your child, be focused completely on him. So turn off your phone, the television and computer, so you're free to play games and have a cuddle.
Make mealtimes special. Get your child to help you with the cooking or preparing, such as rolling rotis or shelling peas for matar paneer. Then sit down at the table as a family and take your time eating so you can chat about your day. Even if your child isn't talking yet, he will enjoy seeing you and sharing food together.
If you work particularly long hours, at least try to be there for his dinner, bath and bedtime.
Make the most of weekends by doing something fun. Give your maid a leave and even joint family try to spend alone time with your baby. Go on a trip to the playground, do some artwork together, or watch his favourite movie.
If your child makes a fuss when you see her at the end of the day or at weekends, try to be patient and don't blame yourself. Chances are she's just missed you and wants some hugs and attention.