Perhaps you can’t find a suitable daycare, or maybe having a baby made you re-think your whole career.
There are also the logistical factors - getting everyone ready and out the door by 8am, the ‘walk of shame’ for afternoon pickup, and the difficulty of adhering to your own schedule - no matter how flexible it was supposed to be.
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Mamamia spoke to 11 women about how they navigated returning to work after maternity leave. Here’s what they shared.
Oakley, mum of one.
I returned in January after 14 months off (lasted three months before getting stood down due to COVID-19). Luckily working for a large company with majority female workers, the expectation of going back full time was not there and they were very accommodating.
I negotiated a five-day fortnight with alternating Wednesdays which was unheard of, but they were open to it if I could make it work.
Emotionally I was so excited! I have never felt guilty having my son in daycare as I know I need the space and so does he.
Logistically, my husband was able to drop him off at open time as I had to leave at 6am each day. We were just prepared the night before, bottle, bags packed, clothes laid out etc so all we had to do was get him up, dressed and fed.
Michelle, mum of one.
There is no flexibility in my retail workplace - no working from home or shorter days!
But the reality is that I love my work and needed to go back to feel human - I'm 100 per cent a better mum because I work.
We send our son to daycare three days a week and he is thriving there. I do feel bad that some days he is one of the last kids there, but his development has skyrocketed since going to daycare. The hardest days are when my husband and I both work and have to get dinner and bedtime sorted and I’m trying not to feel guilty about taking my time during the day to pump.
Cam-Vy, mum of one.
I had only worked with this new organisation for three months when I found out I was pregnant, so when I gave birth I wasn't entitled to maternity leave pay. Due to our finances I returned to work when my son was six months old - two days per week to begin with and now I'm back at work full time.
At the beginning I found it incredibly hard because of mum guilt - I hated leaving him and felt that he was too young for day care! Then when he got sick (and it was constant) that heightened the guilt even more! BUT he was fine, he loved his teachers and was so happy every day. What also really worked was that his day care is across the road from my husband’s workplace. My boss was amazing and very supportive but some colleagues not so much, especially the ones who don't have kids.