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PORSE – Mums shouldn’t feel guilty about going back to work

At PORSE, we’re parents too, and we know it can be hard returning from maternity leave which is why we’re sharing our tips on how to manage mummy guilt.

Mummy guilt comes in many forms – from what you feed your little one, to how you should spend more time doing amazing arts and crafts projects like your coffee group friends do with their children (and why do their efforts always look amazing while yours look NOTHING like the picture on Pinterest!?). But for many of us, weighed down with high rents, mortgages, and the ever increasing cost of living, one of the biggest causes of mummy guilt is the need to return to work.

Returning to Work

The decision to place your baby or young child in childcare is a very hard one to make. As a parent, you may simply need to cover the weekly bills, or you may have other motivations or obligations. Whatever your reason, you know that are making the decision that is ultimately in the best interests of you and your family.

That doesn’t stop people commenting on your decision of course, although the concept of families with both parents working is often now the norm. Lots of comments passed in conversation probably aren’t meant to make you feel bad – but when you would rather be home with your child, or you have just missed out on going to their Christmas break-up or sports day, it stings.

But you are not alone – the concept of mummy guilt is an international phenomenon and at PORSE we’re all on that same journey with you. As an organisation with a workforce consisting predominantly of working mums, we get it. You should never feel guilty for making the decision that is right in your circumstances, and for your child – we know it’s not a decision made lightly.

Some of our team are on maternity leave and some are sending their babies off to University (that comes around faster than you think), but we have all gone through the challenge of being a working mum (or dad).

In addition to our own experiences as working parents, we have helped thousands of families as they transition out of maternity leave and back into work.

Attachment Theory

The PORSE philosophy is built on the science of attachment theory – how the relationships between children and the caregivers in their life impact on that most critical period of brain development, from birth to age three and beyond.

We know how important it is for children to build a strong relationship with their Educator, but also for parents and Educators to have a good connection. As a parent, you can’t focus on work if you're worried about the wellbeing of your baby. You should rest easy knowing that if you can’t be with them, they are getting the next best thing – an Educator who will cuddle them, keep them safe and settled, and make sure their routine is maintained, all while supporting them to learn and develop through play.

So, with this in mind, here are a few of our tips for reducing your mummy guilt.

Know who is caring for your child

Choosing your childcare provider carefully is the first step to alleviating guilt. You need to feel confident that your child will feel safe, secure and loved because that is what they need for healthy development. Knowing that they are in their 'home away from home' also keeps the guilt and stress at bay while you are at work.

Your children are influenced by those who care for them, so focus on the person and place less importance on the facilities (excluding safety of course!).

Reduce your child’s separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a normal part of childhood and reflects the attachment relationship your child has formed with you. Take the time to let your child build confidence with their Educator by staying with them until they seem comfortable.

For PORSE Education & Training General Manager, Erin Maloney, one thing that has worked for her was to leave her son with something he associated with her – like a photo, a piece of jewellery, or a scarf to look after while she was at work.

“It allows him to still feel connected to me when I’m not there, which eases my mummy guilt about going in the first place.”

If your employer is willing, it’s also beneficial to transition back into work – either doing a few hours from home or working part-time and building back into full-time hours.

Stay connected with your child

Once you are back into the swing of work, find ways to keep fuelling that special connection with your child. When you aren’t working, be present with your children (and your partner) and have a strategy for leaving work stress at the front door.

PORSE staff member Michelle Sands stays connected with her son JJ through Storypark online journal updates. “I love that photos of JJ arrive into my inbox each day and I can see that he’s learning through play and having fun with his Educator Ginny and the other children. Because I get these snapshots of his day, I can talk to him more about the activities he’s been participating in.”

Making the most of her time at home is also important to Michelle, who tries not to take work home in the evenings. “It can be really hard to switch off when work is busy, but I try to be fully present for JJ when I’m at home – because they’re only little for a short time!”

So if you are thinking about returning to work keep these things in mind, a little bit of planning will go a long way. If you have questions about your return to work feel free to give PORSE a call on 0800 023 456 or visit the PORSE website for more information.

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