How long should I take for maternity leave?
Is there an ideal time to return to work?
2 parents have answered
How long is a piece of string? I was talking to a dad from my kids' school the other day. His youngest is 6 months old and his wife is looking to return to work soon. It's obviously a source of constant discussion, because he waved his hand and said in a matter of fact way: 'One year is the right age for him to go to nursery, but it's up to her'. And I thought how funny this was, such an arbitrary age!
I went back to work when my first baby was three months old. I can't even imagine it now. She went into a nursery, a lovely, nurturing nursery and I just got on with it. Maternity leave and pay was way worse then, and it wasn't a choice, it was a necessity. She is the most secure, loving, sociable little girl. It did her no harm, did our relationship no harm.
Second child was totally different. I was different, I went back to work early but couldn't handle it. I ended up working nights so that we didn't need childcare for the baby, and meantime my daughter was thriving in a part-time pre-school by day. I was exhausted but...!
Third child I started back when he was 10 months. It broke my heart. The childcare was great, got him into routines and helped him socialise. But I couldn't bear it. I quit a year later and went freelance and stayed that way until he was almost at school.
You've got to be honest with yourself about what you need, what you can handle, and what you know instinctively is right for your baby. And you can try different ways of working it and see what sticks. No-one can tell you what is the right time for you to return to work, just be kind to yourself if it turns out you need longer at home. Good luck!
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I've just returned to work part-time after taking 9 months maternity leave though I phased it in by doing 1 day a week between months 6-9 (while baby's granny looked after her), which really helped me regain my confidence and get back into the swing of things.
If there is any way you could ease back into work by doing a few days here and there before returning properly do it! It's made all the difference to me, and it means that I'm confident back in the office, and that my daughter is also used to being looked after by people other than me...