Nicola Edwards tells ParentDish readers how she has found returning to work after her maternity leave...
Harper was nine months old when I went back to work, I originally planned to go back to work when he was six months. However, I was able to rearrange this with my employer. I have gone back full time, and the reasons were purely financial. I would prefer to work part time. I am lucky though in the respect that I work in education so get more holiday time than is average. This makes the fact that I went back full time a little easier.
How did you choose his childcare?
I made a short list of nurseries to visit. I found the internet quite useful, although some nurseries do not have websites. I arranged to visit each nursery with Harper. I visited a range to allow comparisons, from reasonably priced to expensive and in different areas, near work and home. I narrowed the final choice to two, one near home and one near work. I arranged second visits to these with my husband and Harper and we made the decision after the second visit.
Before each visit I made a list of points that I wanted to ask about, such as menus, what the nursery provided, staff qualifications and experience and the types of activities for the children. The nursery I chose was the only one of the six I considered that actively used baby signing. Harper then attended the nursery before I went back to work for five 'settling in' sessions of one or two hours. This helped both of us get used to being apart!
What do the children do there on a typical day?
They have a really varied day, that's one of the reasons I chose the nursery. In the morning they might make some artwork, read stories and play with the cooker set, then after lunch go into the garden, play in tunnels and with cars.
They also have a professional singer come in to sing nursery rhymes with them and someone to play sports. Sometimes they will go out to the local playground too.
How was your first day back at work?
Hmmm. I spent most of the time wondering what Harper was doing, resisting ringing the nursery to see how he was!
As soon as I walked into the building at work I was accosted by colleagues asking me about things and ended up hiding in the library so I could get on with some work at my own pace. It was a bit of a shock after being away for so long.
How do you feel now that you have been back at work for a few weeks?
It's much easier than I thought it would be. I dreaded it before I went back. Maybe it's easier because I am so busy! The only difference I have found is that now I consider Harper's needs, I can't stay as late as I once did.
Unfortunately this might mean now that I have to bring more work home than I want to. In an ideal world I wouldn't work full time and would love to work for myself and choose my hours, however at the moment this just isn't feasable.
How is your son settling in at nursery?
He has settled in really well. Initially it was hard for us both. You expect tears when you leave them but not when you go to pick them up! Apparently this is quite normal and eventually Harper stopped crying when I went to collect him.
What I found particulary hard is the way you have to drop them off in the mornings for the first few weeks. It feels like you are being almost pushed out of the door with no time to say goodbye!
There is good reason though and now I am allowed to have a longer chat with the staff and procrastinate a little! However, knowing that it is better for your child to have a quick drop off didn't stop a few tears in the car...
Harper now smiles when he sees the nursery staff and the last few weeks just seems to want to get in there to play. He's always pleased to see me in the evening though!