Lockdown has been difficult and testing for many of us, and we may be feeling a lot of overwhelming emotions as we prepare to return to some sense of normality. For people who became parents during lockdown or didn’t return to work after maternity leave because of lockdown, the biggest emotion you may be feeling is anxiety. Anxiety can be calmed and managed if you know how to prepare for leaving your little one after lockdown.
From the time your baby was born, you have been responsible for every aspect of their life. In fact, for most of this time, it may have felt like the only thing you have been responsible for has been your baby. Going back to work means that your life is going to change, and you might feel like your responsibilities are divided. All of this – the added pressures of work, the feelings of responsibility, the worries about your little one – is completely normal. It’s OK to feel anxious.
It’s extremely important to recognise your feelings and accept them. However, it’s equally important not to make any major decisions based on these feelings, because they should pass. Don’t be too hard on yourself during this time, give yourself time to adjust and try different solutions.
Covid has made many people feel isolated, and it’s true that many support groups won’t be face to face for a bit longer. Some support groups, like parent and baby groups or working parent support groups, may be running online sessions. Your local library website should have details of groups in your area.
Some parenting websites have chat forums, so it could also be a good idea to sign up. You should look for support from people who are experiencing the same emotions as you are, and this can be a great way to voice your concerns.
It’s in your employer’s best interest to have happy employees. So, make sure that you talk to your employer before you return to work. You may want to discuss your work hours, responsibilities, and any concessions you may need as a new parent. You should also consider your schedule. If your employer is offering a part-time transition, flexitime, or a work from home option, you should consider if these may work better for you. This would let you ease yourself back into working.
Trying out a few trial runs can be very helpful for you and your little one. For one thing, they will need time to get used to your childcare provider, your provider will need to get to know them, and you will need time to get used to the idea of being without your baby. A good way for all this to happen is to have a few trial runs beforehand.
You should use this time to plan out your work journey, including the drop off, and whatever else you would usually do on your way to work. Use these trials to make sure that you give yourself enough time to get to work and drop off your child. If you feel prepared on your first days back, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed, and panicked.
It can be helpful to practice some breathing exercises before you go back to work. Breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness can all be useful in controlling, and managing your anxiety. You can learn through classes, either online or in-person, follow podcasts, or YouTube tutorials.