Going back to work the emotion and feelings

OK, so you’ve made the decision to go back to work after being a full-time mum. You’ve got everything sorted – the outfit, the shoes, the route to work. Childcare has been arranged with granny, nanny or nursery and you’re feeling pretty organised. That is until the emotion of going back to work kicks in! Nothing can prepare you for the feelings that hit you as you prepare to leave your child for the first time.


As soon as you are handed that beautiful bundle of joy at the hospital, it seems you are given a large suitcase of guilt to go with it!

Throughout their lives you will feel that guilt about pretty much everything where your children are concerned, it is part of being a parent and I’m afraid there’s no escaping it.

When you leave your child in the care of someone else the guilt can be huge.

  • Guilty for leaving them in the first place
  • Guilty for not being with them every second of the day
  • Guilty that you are actually looking forward to having some time away from them

And the list goes on.

It is a really horrible feeling but it is completely normal and pretty much everyone feels the same. It is good to remember that mums who don’t work will be feeling the guilt too for all sorts of other reasons.

You need to focus on the reasons you have decided to go back to work and the fact that you have organised the best possible care for your child while you are not with them. They will be absolutely fine and you will learn to enjoy the time you are away from them, WITHOUT feeling guilty about it!


When you leave your child with someone else it’s hard, there are no two ways about it! It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving them for 10 minutes or 2 hours it can send you into a panic.

It is especially hard if your child is crying and clinging onto you for dear life as you are trying to leave. Leaving your child like this is one of the hardest things to do and goes against all your maternal instincts telling you to stay and comfort your baby.

There are children who settle beautifully into this new routine with barely a squeak but the majority will take a while. There isn’t a hard and fast rule of how long, as every child and situation is different. It can depend on the age of your child, babies tend to settle quicker than toddlers for instance. It also depends on the frequency of the childcare.  They are likely to settle more quickly if this new routine is three days a week rather than once a week.

Children thrive on routine and will settle into a new regime and be perfectly happy once they know what to expect and feel comfortable. It’s a case of sticking with it.

You can help the process by being strong. The best, but probably the hardest, thing to do when you leave your child is to go quickly. Now, I don’t mean walk in, pop your little darling down and walk out without a word. More a case of handing your child over after a quick kiss and a cuddle, explain that Mummy loves them and will be back later. At this point, take a big breath and walk out of the door. Then you can have a quick cry yourself!!  The career can then focus on cuddling, consoling and distracting your child until they are calm.

Be reassured, by the time you have got to your car, the chances are they will have got distracted and stopped crying. If you can be strong and consistent, your child will settle more quickly and begin to enjoy themselves.

It is the hardest thing in the world when you can hear your baby calling out for you but hanging around will confuse them and make the career’s job more difficult. There are a few things you can do to help ease the way;

  • Leave them for shorter periods of time at first, and build it up over 2/3 weeks
  • No one  is going to mind if you call to check everything is ok as long as you’re not calling every half an hour
  • Make an arrangement to get a couple of emails during the day to keep you informed of how your child is doing
  • Arrange for your child’s career to call you if they are still unable to calm them after an hour. That way you can make the decision to go and collect them if need be, but if you don’t hear from them you can assume that no news is good news!

Trust in your career’s ability to look after your child. You chose them for a reason!


Article written by Louise Karim, MD of Women@Work


Women@Work Coach -
29 May 2016