Back To Work After Maternity Leave

Back To Work After Maternity Leave, Self Employed Working Mom

Here I am, the ‘hipster’ with their MacBook in a coffee shop but little do people know that I'm actually a semi-sleep-deprived Mum who’s baby (or rather toddler) has just been dropped off at daycare for the first time - yup, I’ve never left with her with anyone apart from family members, and I think she was being a lot braver than me. 

Ironically, I’m sat opposite a table of 10 Mums and their newborns, maybe that is the gods of daycare settling my soul and calming me. It’s not making me miss Mia but instead their little cries and the shaking of a rattle is reassuring. 

Day Care in Iceland: Dagmama

This is the first week of daycare, or rather of the Dagmama (meaning Day Mama in Icelandic). It is a popular system here in where one Dagmama takes care of up to 5 babies, usually in their home, and up until the child gets a space at Kindergarten (at around 18+ months). Mia is 14 months now (how did that happen) and we just got this sought after space over the summer, so this it the first week back - a kind of trial week for all involved, as it were. 

On Monday I went with her for an hour. On Tuesday I took her, dropped her off and went back 1.5hrs later (we both survived). Today was Dads turn, so he has just dropped her off and she will stay for a few hours to play and hopefully a nap too. If everything goes well for the rest of the week then she can go for a full day next week (and then I really do have to be brave). 

Sleeping Babies In Iceland

The nap thing is a little bit of a nervous issue for me as here in Iceland babies sleep in their buggy outside, in all weathers. This is something Mia has never done and to add to the challenge, she will nap in a new-second hand buggy we got purely for this reason. 

I’m absolutely sure she will be fine, she gets so exhausted by all the stimulation of toys and 4 other babies to play with but I’m Mum and so I worry. 

Preparing To Go Back To Work

We all know we have to face reality at some point, and although I work for myself and never really took maternity leave as such, I’m treating it as though I’m returning to work all the same. 

To help me stay on track, motivated and inspired, I have been keeping an Evernote document going with a huge list of ideas and things I want to do with my business. Everything from blog to vlog, new online courses, building up my email list, products, promotions and more. I’m so excited to get stuck into it but I know Mum-guilt will kick in and I will have to deal. 

Mum-Guilt

It’s a funny thing. You feel guilty for being with your baby and not working, earning and contributing enough. But then if you go and do some work - or anything away from your baby - you feel like a bad Mum = Mum-guilt. Basically you can’t win. 

I remember when Mia was about 3 months old and taking a nap in her crib, right in front of me, I decided to get some work done. I wanted to do something relaxing but productive so I grabbed some canvases and painted a Blue Lagoon scene. She was asleep the entire time, and right in front of me so she absolutely didn’t need me or my full attention BUT I felt so damn guilty for doing something other than Mum / Mia stuff. How crazy is that? It makes no sense until you are there, until you are a Mum and your mind is messing with you. 

'Blue Lagoon' #1
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A Pause Before Returning To Work

A few weeks ago, Ingimar said that when Mia starts at the Dagmama, that he wanted me to take 2 weeks off before getting stuck back into work. He knows how much of a workaholic I can be so he asked me to take some time to pause, to just be me; a buffer between Mum-me and working-me. 

To be honest, I struggled with this idea. It seems like a luxury I don’t deserve, selfish. 2 weeks of getting nothing done, what a waste I thought. But if I really committed to the idea of a having a buffer between Mum and Work, then it wouldn’t be 2 weeks of getting nothing done and it could be really good for the soul. 2 weeks of reconnecting and finding myself (that sounds a bit airy fairy, I know) and finding my flow again. 

I actually think he’s onto something, but let’s not tell him that. 

What Even Is Me-Time?

As a new Mum you hear this a lot. “Take some me time…time for you…look after yourself too”. When I heard this I thought how? or when? But it’s important and can be so simple, we just can’t do it when we are so sleep exhausted and working with baby brain. 

Be real, it might look a lot different from your pre-pregnancy ‘me-time’ but you can still escape a little and feel ok about it. Here are some easy-ish ideas to try:

  • COOK

    When baby is down for a nap, close yourself off in the kitchen and make some good old soul food. Get the slow cooker on or make a big pan of soup.

  • SPA

    …and I don’t mean go to one. Get someone to look after baby and lock yourself in the bathroom. Either run a bath or take a shower. Get out all those products you have been saving for good and use them now. Pamper yourself cos you deserve it now more than ever. Have a good cry if it helps get some of these emotions / hormonal craziness out - I sure did this and it helped loads

  • SLEEP

    The saying “sleep when baby sleeps” annoyed the heck out of me for a while. I did it in the beginning and it was great but after about 3 months, Mia’s naps got shorter and unpredictable and I just wanted to use that time (however long) to clean or get a load of washing done or just have some breakfast. But honestly, wherever possible - sleep when they sleep, even if it means you nap with them in your bed - you are both resting and that time is so precious.

  • ASK FOR HELP

    I literally never did this cos I am an idiot. There, I said it. It took me until I had my operation until I asked my friend Brittany to come over and play with Mia or to just sit with me and keep me company. It takes a village and unfortunately our village here in Iceland is pretty small but my lovely family in Scotland helps when and where they can, and I love them for it.

  • DON’T DO IT ALONE

    when you are able to and feel ok about it, leave the house. Motherhood can be very lonely and it doesn’t have to be. Visit a friend or relative, meet up with the other Mums from any prenatal groups you went to, go out for a walk with them (we formed a ‘buggy gang’ and kept each other sane) and try to go to local playgroups. It might be scary and often feels very unnatural as you’ll be making friends with girls who you maybe wouldn’t normal be friends with (and you might only talk about your babies) but it can be great company, and stimulation for baby.

Finding Me Again

Mia is happily playing with her new little gang at day care, I need to focus back on me. She still needs me, yes, but I need to find myself again and start to focus back on my business, my goals and my income. 

Income & My Goals

I said it, income, money. Argh. As a working Mum this can be a very daunting area as I feel pressure to bring in money but I have Mum-guilt, and I definitely don’t have as much focus or energy as before. 

I want to be honest with you and help where I can, especially if you are also a working Mum. I have to say that Mia is now my main motivation. I can remember sitting on the sofa, breastfeeding her one day, and making a promise to her that I would work hard and work intentionally to help build the life she, and we, deserve. 

Having her in my life is a huge responsibility but it is also a huge motivator. I want to do well, I want her to see me working and achieving my goals. I want her to look up to me, and I want her to be proud of her Mama. 

I juggle a lot and so going back to work isn’t as smooth as returning to the office. Here are some of the things which make up my ‘job’: 

  1. LAYOUTLINES.COM

  2. BLOG

  3. YOUTUBE

  4. ONLINE COURSES

  5. WORKSHOPS

  6. INSTAGRAM & COLLABORATIONS

  7. SHOP / WHOLESALE / COMMISSIONS

My Buffer Time

Here we go, I’m nervously entering into my ‘buffer time’ as suggested by the viking. I will of course still be adding all my ideas to that list in Evernote but I am trying not to work too much and ease my way back into things. Here are the things I want to do in the next 2 weeks:

  1. Rejoin the gym and try some classes

  2. Swim and sit in hot pools

  3. Go to the cinema

  4. Bake

  5. Cook

  6. Deep clean the apartment, I’m wild, I know

  7. Declutter as much as possible, I’m no minimalist - more like minimal-ish

  8. Catch up with friends I haven’t seen in ages

  9. Meet some new contacts I’ve made here in Reykjavik

  10. Book flights for upcoming weddings


Are you on maternity/paternity leave, returning to work? How does it feel? 


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