How to cope with returning to work after Maternity leave.

When I realised my maternity leave would be ending soon, I would have to return to work, I found myself feeling lost and hopeless. How could I go back?

cope, how, return, work

This time it just felt so different; wrong, somehow.

There were days I would feel like I was in the midst of an anxiety attack for hours on end, I’d be so full of dread at the thought of returning to work that I’d have this urge to act because I didn’t have enough time, except there was no action to take, spiralling me deeper into my internal panic.

It was at this time that I realised I was meant to blog. I felt as though I’d finally found my calling, I finally knew what I needed to do with my life! And now that dream was being threatened, because how could I blog if I had to work? Where would I find the time?

I was terrified of becoming stuck in a never-ending cycle; if I couldn’t put in the time I needed to build an income from blogging, I couldn’t quit work, if I couldn’t quite work, I’d never be able to put in the time etc.

me, depressed, stressed, back

I must have rewritten our budget a hundred times, hoping I’d find some secret source of income I’d missed, allowing us to afford for me to stay home.

I spent hours searching the internet for viable ‘side hussles’ to keep us afloat. Repeatedly I found that the websites offering surveys for money, somehow never had ones that matched my demographic. The freelance writing sites I checked out were all the ‘you need experience before you can write for us, you need to write for us to get the experience’ kinda dead end.

I even briefly considered and attempted transcribing audio clips. *shudder*

In the end I was forced to accept the unfortunate truth. I had no choice financially but to return to work.

So I said ‘screw it’ and started my blog anyway. 

me, laptop, work, blogging

I’ve thrown myself at blogging with such a passion since then because the more I write, the more I want to write. The more results I see from the hard work I’ve put in, the more I love this lifestyle. I truly believe this is my calling.

I may not be able to avoid going back to work, it may still take some time and effort before I can quit, but I have a goal now. How do I know I will reach it? Because there simply isn’t an alternative future in my mind.

I want to share a few tips I picked up as I was going through all of this. Looking back on the last few months I have realised some things, I believe that sharing them may help others. Maybe these tips will even make the difference between whether you have to go back or not!

Wouldn’t that be something?

return, work, after, maternity, leave

1. Make a REALISTIC budget
  • Write out your monthly budget twice; once with your working income included, minus any childcare costs, and once without your contribution at all, plus any benefit allowance.

Don’t forget to include the benefits you’d be entitled to if you didn’t work, that can actually make a significant difference for some. (You can check if you would qualify here)

  • The next step is to consider any yearly expenses you have. For example, if your cars MOT is in September and you think you’ll need tires replacing, you can estimate at least £200 cost.

Look at what you have as backup in your savings. Be honest about whether or not you can afford to continue saving if you’re not working; how would a large upfront cost like that MOT affect you if you only had your single monthly income to cover it? Having a back-up fund in your savings account can make a world of difference, saving is important.

I have made a free downloadable budget planner printable for you!

budget, planner, printable

It has been tailored specifically to tackle returning to work, try filling out all the sections and see if it helps you figure things out. Just be sure to print TWO copies, one for if you go back to work, and one for if you don’t.

Click here to download for free: BUDGET PLANNER

2. Figure out if it will be worth paying for childcare

It’s a sad state of affairs but for most people these days it is actually more economical to have one parent stay home with the kids, childcare costs are so high.

My son attends nursery three afternoons a week. That’s three half days, and that was costing us around £260 a month. That is a lot of money for 1 ½ days’ worth of childcare a week! Luckily he is now over three and entitled to free funding from the government, otherwise we’d really struggle on my reduced maternity wage.

A friend of mine wanted to return to work Monday to Friday 9-5, and to put her son into nursery full time would cost her over a thousand pounds a month. Over a Thousand!

If you have a very well-paying job and a career you love like she did, then it won’t be too much of an issue. But if you’re working for the minimum living wage, you would actually be losing money by returning to work full time.

One big mistake you must avoid is assuming your parents or in-laws will be your free childcare.

My in-laws help us out big time and have agreed to provide childcare when I go back for one day every other week. This might not seem like much, surely they could do more, right? They’re both retired! They have free time!

Wrong, even if they are in the retired stage of life, they are both people with friends, hobbies and commitments. Also they are both, unfortunately, not in perfect health.

An almost four-year-old is super active and demanding, and a baby having a bad day can be even worse. Just imagine the two combined at their worst! I am grateful for any help their Grandparents can offer us, we would never expect them to just give up their lives to revolve around ours, or risk their health.

Never make assumptions, remember, everyone has their own life to lead and struggles to face. Plan based on needing professional childcare, if you think a relative will be open to helping, make sure to talk through exactly what you need so you are on the same page.

3. Should/could you just change jobs instead?

If the problem you’re facing is a little more specific to the job itself, you may have to consider other options.

There are some jobs where the hours just don’t work around nursery (or even childminders!), they are just too antisocial. My workplace requires working late evenings but now that Husband has a new job which only requires morning shifts (yay!), this actually works out better for us.

Some workplaces get a little funny with Mums returning to work after maternity leave. Legally they’re not supposed too, but that doesn’t mean they don’t try it on.

I’ve heard of some workplaces refusing to consider allowing part time positions, so it’s either come back full time or don’t come back at all.

Others might only have shifts available that, as I mentioned, just don’t work with kids. Unfortunately, they will also be able to get away with refusing to be flexible with you, if that refusal is based on already bowing to flexible working requests for someone else.

If you find yourself facing an impossible schedule, your only choice may be to change jobs. This can extremely hard when you need flexibility and you may find yourself having to take a demotion or put certain career aspirations on hold. Unfortunately the working world doesn’t care about what we need, but what they need.

The one thing you must remember: when it comes to your finance, career and childcare in your child’s early years, everything is temporary.

You will not be in the same situation in five years when your child has started school. You will most likely not even be in the same situation in a year’s time, there are so many factors that can change everything!

So here is another free printable for you to download! A Pros/Cons work sheet to help you balance out what is the best choice for you.

pro, con, printable

To figure out if childcare and job flexibility are going to be a real problem, print out this worksheet and use it to list the pros/cons of all aspects of returning to work. Financial, childcare, job hours and so on. If one side of the list is substantially larger than the other, you will have a clearer idea of what you should choose.

Click here to download for free: PROS/CONS LIST

This leads me now to my most important point:

4. Is it worth it?

The last and most important point on this list. This one weighed heavily on me for a long while, I changed my mind many times.

You’ve already weighed if it’s necessary and/or worth going back to work based on

  • Finance
  • Childcare
  • Job flexibility

Now comes the really hard part.

Is going back to work worth it for your family’s happiness?

I knew having done it once already, that my sons would be fine. Kids can adapt. My boys will either be with their dad, grandparents or at a nursery we trust with a pleasant, engaging atmosphere. Going back part time lessens the blow even more.

The income I will bring in is necessary to ensure we are doing more than breaking even each month. It allows us to put money into savings for holidays, car repairs etc. It will also provide just enough of a buffer to cover us should other unexpected costs crop up month to month.

This includes the little things month to month, like if we decide to treat Gray to a day out at somewhere like a farm park or funfair, or if we’d like to have a meal or two out as a family. Things many take for granted but that not everyone can do whenever they wish.

For us, it absolutely is worth it, due to all of these reasons and also the most important of all: the Big Picture.

These short term reasons reflect on our long term goals. Savings build up towards big family holidays, home improvements, eventually buying a new car and new house and so on. I have already figured out a schedule to fit blogging in around work and have set myself a goal: Part time income in one year.

That means a year from now I want to be earning enough to quit my job and work from home.

But I will not quite before then, no matter how much I may want to, because:
  • I want us to always feel secure financially
  • I want our savings to grow
  • Because my kids should look back on their early memories with fondness thanks to a relaxed home atmosphere, having adventures and taking fun holidays together, without ‘how are we going to make ends meet this month’ stress, or going without because we couldn’t afford what they needed/wanted
  • And because I know that this is only temporary and will be worth it in the long term!

Take a long, hard look at the reasons you are returning/not returning to work. Make sure you consider the long-term ramifications of your choices. Whatever your choice, put your family’s long-term happiness first, everything else you can figure out how to adapt along the way.

Whatever your situation, there will always be a solution and even if it’s not exactly the one you want I promise you, this is only temporary. It will be worth it in the long run.

I have made you one more free printable. This worksheet is to help you really see the big picture by getting it all down in front of you.

big, picture, worksheet, printable

For help figuring out if it’s all really worth it, try downloading and filling in this last worksheet. Be honest with yourself and your situation. At the end of the day, you will make things work no matter what comes your way. But! You need to base your choices around what is best for you as a family.

Click here to download for free: BIG PICTURE WORKSHEET

I hope the printables are helpful to you figuring things out. More than anything I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you!

return, work, printables, title

In case you missed the links up there, here are those FREE PRINTABLES again:




If you’re feeling down about it all, to help you cope with those Negative Thoughts, try my other Free Printables over here.


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Cuddle Fairy
Hot Pink Wellingtons

25 thoughts on “How to cope with returning to work after Maternity leave.”

  1. Before I had kids, I used to work for an agency as a substitute teaching assistant. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to it as it wasn’t actually secure work, and the cost of childcare would have been greater than my income. And if that’s the case, then what’s the point? I only used to work mornings, but couldn’t even feasibly go back to it once my youngest is at nursery (0915-1215) as I’d have to be at a school from 0830 until at least 1200, and half the time the school wasn’t even local to me, but a train ride away. Just not do-able.
    The difference for me compared to a lot of people is that I grew up in a forces family with a stay at home mum, so I kind of view what I’m doing as normal, when a lot of other mums don’t, or don’t have the choice. I’m grateful we are able to afford for me to do this on my husband’s wages, but I’d still like to be able to contribute in some way to lessen the financial burden.

  2. This is a fab post – I had the same feelings after my first child. I cursed myself for not having a talent I could turn into a work-from-home business. In the end I just quit (I would not recommend this to anyone – I did have backup options though they were fairly drastic), as the childcare and travel (on top of everything else) left me with no salary spare. I was lucky enough to be offered a part time job working from home as soon as I left my job so I did not have to put any of the drastic plans into action! I am so glad you happy with your decision though – such a tough one to make!

    1. Thank you! It’s nice to hear others can relate, even though it’s a tough thing to relate too, it reassures me i’ve written something that might be able to help someone. I’m glad things worked out for you! x

  3. Oh I can so relate to not wanting to go back. At the end of my last maternity leave I was doing so many online surveys for peanuts! I also tried (and failed) to start a business. I’m on maternity leave again now until May next year, and already scheming a way out of it, haha!

    1. It is a very difficult situation to be in, it’s true! I’m due back at the end of October, I’ve been writing like crazy to get my blog off the ground so i won’t have to face any of the beginners nightmares while juggling work as well! And i’ve set my self an ultimate goal of building my blog revenue (probably via my ebooks, aff links and maybe sponsored posts?) up to at least a standard maternity wage equivalent (we know we can get by on that) within one year so that I can quit! The way I see it, the sooner i get out of the day job, the sooner i make the blog my day job, if that makes sense haha xx

  4. I’m due back next month and have all the same thoughts and feelings as you do. I have only been blogging for 2 months and dream of making a living from it. Got to have a dream for a dream to come true.#KCACOLS

    1. Thanks Becci, very true! Some days I need to keep reminding myself if I work towards it, I will achieve it, no matter how long it takes! So I keep moving forwards! xx

  5. It’s a tough one returning to work after, in my case adoption leave. I had older kids so they went straight into school – but it was tough leaving them.

    I like your forward plans, long-term goals and budget planners it forces you to sit and think things through. For many mums it seems to be a loose loose situation with childcare costs really eating your salary, and the time spent away from the children. Makes you feel is it worth it?

    I live in France now, and childcare here is affordable and it’s built around working parent, even when they go to school. The expectation here is that mums return to work!

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you like them. 🙂 It’s interesting to hear about the French system, it certainly sounds more accommodating than the UK!

  6. It is such a hard decision to make. I went back to work so we could start saving some money but also so I would have a better chance at supporting us in the future. In my line of work it’s hard to take time off. I’m in the middle of trying to obtain my license which will eventually allow me to work independentl. So while I feel guilty now I know in the long run it will be beneficial. Thanks for sharing!#KCACOLS

  7. I am due to go just over 5 weeks and I really do not want to this time at all. Like you I want to stay home and concentrate on my blog and also my YouTube channel but it just can’t happen right now. Fab post will definitely be printing off the budget planner just to check things out again x #KCACOLS

  8. I vividly remember the fear and dread of the maternity leave ending after both my girls. We are in a situation now where I have become a stay at home mum due to childcare costs and long nursing shifts that aren’t conducive with my husbands job (which pays better). The 15 hours free helps a lot but we still going to be out of pocket if I worked.
    Good luck with achieving your blogging dream.

  9. This is such a tough decision that I think we all struggle with. If I wanted 5 days a week childcare for my son I was looking at a childcare bill of over £1500 a month. Combined with my train fare into London for my previous job it just didn’t make sense. I was really lucky to find a part time, work from home role, so I do 2 days a week which keeps me in the world of work (still costs me over £600 a month for nursery fees mind you!) A big part of the reason we’re waiting until he’ll qualify for some free hours before having another one! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again tomorrow
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…#SharingtheBlogLove #10My Profile

  10. I go back in a month so this is a really interesting read. Honestly, I think one of the biggest things about having children is all the childcare and juggling once you’re back. It’s mental isn’t it? And it wills definitely cost me a thousand pound a month to put the baby into nursery full time. Eek! Fortunately we have my mum and dad and Inlaws and it’ll be 3 days between them. #bloggerclubuk
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…The beauty of Stirling CastleMy Profile

  11. Having just returned to work, and being in the middle of a tough day today, I can totally relate to this post. I’ve always liked my job, but it’s not a passion. I’d love to blog full time, but I earn such a good wage, I could never earn enough to support my family from blogging alone. Being back at work full time is hard, but I have something to work towards – buying our own home. I was the same as you and made list after list after list to see if there was any way round going back full time, but it just wouldn’t work. I know that I have to make lots of sacrifices now in order to build a better future for my family. Unfortunately those sacrifices often mean wanting to cry at my desk every day because I’m surviving on 4 hours sleep a night! #BloggerClubUK

    1. It is so hard, you are doing amazing to work so hard and focus on such a wonderful goal for the future! I hope things get easier for you, thanks for the comment! xx

  12. Hi Claire, very sensible advice. I love blogging too and left my pharmacy career of 20+ years last December to have a career break and see if I could break into blogging but may need to consider part time work at some point. We have to be realistic and balance our dreams with the practicalities and budget, don’t we?

    Hope everything works out, whatever happens short term or long term. It’s great that you’ve given everything careful thought though. #BloggerclubUK
    Jane Taylor recently posted…Window film: a thrifty alternative to blinds & curtains.My Profile

  13. There are so many factors to consider when making this decision. I went back to work for 3 days a week in between having my girls. But with 2 lots of childcare, it was not worth it. Alice has just started school and we are now looking at what would work for us and only having 1 lot of childcare. Too many decisions to make! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove X
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Sharing the Blog Love…#13My Profile

  14. This really is such a tough decision. I commented above about our decision this time around, where we’ve managed to find a good balance that we’re all happy with, but I’m conscious that if we were to have another child I’m not sure the part-time working option we’ve gone for this time would be feasible, given the childcare costs for two children compared to my wage (to be honest, even the childcare costs for one compared to my wage pretty much wipes out any earnings!). Thanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…The Best Instagram Hashtags for Parent BloggersMy Profile

  15. Great post. I returned to work after both my girls & at one point both of them were in nursery, which wasn’t cheap, but I knew it would be temporary. Now both my girls are in school & my love for blogging is outweighing my love of my job so like you trying to build a part time income from blogging. Hard work doing the two together & look after the girls at the same time but when it’s a goal you do what you can. #sharingthebloglove

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