run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Tuesday 8 March 2016

On back-to-work 'grief'

Molly wondered if she'd have the time to express when back at work.
This is a guest post by mum-of-one and PR extraordinaire Joanna Burkill * 

It feels wrong to dub that dread you feel in the pit of your stomach as maternity leave ends as 'grief'. But one of my most practical, logical and straight-talking friends said to me that just before you go back to work, you do go through a kind of grieving process: you cannot imagine how your baby will be OK without you, and you are so a part of one another. 

This shocked me because it was so unlike her to say something emotive like that. But, sure enough, she was right: like her I went through what I can only describe as a feeling of loss two weeks before going back. 

Not because I didn't want to return to work. Far from it, in fact, I was looking forward to work in a big way. But the thought of leaving my little girl miles away terrified me. 

I am happy to report that once you make the return: it's absolutely fine. 

I can't reassure other mums and dads enough. My daughter - who has had more than her fair share of clingy episodes - is so happy. She's not coping, she's thriving.  

Here are my tips. Please do feel free to disregard entirely as everyone is different & I hate unsolicited advice - but I hope they help.

* 1-2 weeks before going back have a plan in mind for every day (play date, trip to farm, just a walk around the park - whatever if is) as it stops your mind wandering. 

* If anyone asks you something about work before then and you just don't want to talk about if, feel free to say: 'Yep I'm going back, don't know what kind of pattern, I've made the decision to try and stop having so many conversations about it at the moment tho as I just want to enjoy the time we have left'. Sounds ridiculous, you'll feel like an idiot but it does shut them up. 

* You won't want to, but try a couple of settling in sessions with whoever is looking after your baby. Try to stay close the first time and set your expectations low. My childminder called me back after six minutes! We tried two settling sessions a week for three weeks and by the end she was still unhappy. Then the day I went to work - magically everything was fine. I'm amazed how many parents have said the same thing happened to them.

* Know what works for you and tell your carer how to update you. I like loads of Whatsapp pics and messages. Some parents prefer to hear nothing unless there is an issue.

* Finally: you may suddenly all at once feel that you just can't do this. That's totally natural. It feels so wrong at times to leave your little one. But I can't emphasise this strongly enough: from the minute I went to work it was all FINE. I actually find life a lot easier now. Having a few non nappy changing / feeding battle / entertainment duty days actually feels like the break you've been waiting for. And you still see your baby loads and you are always, always their most precious person. They just get a new exciting part to their week.



  1. I'm back to work a week today and have first nursery settling in session tomorrow. It does feel a bit grief like. Not sure how I'm here at this stage already - the time has flown :( great guest post!

  2. Thank you! I am now 2 months in and it is still all fine :) happy mummy, happy baby. I found a brilliant childminder I am so happy with. It makes all the difference. Jo Burkill X


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