Do you remember how when you were pregnant, you had that overwhelming, to the bone sense of complete and utter tiredness? Or maybe that was just me? I seem to recall it was around the 3 to 4 month mark. It felt like some sort of sleeping ‘sickness’. I’d get home from work, sit down on the settee and be falling asleep before I’d even had a cup of tea. Or I’d lie down on the floor to stretch my back and before I knew it, I was zonked out.
I wonder if that isn’t nature’s way of encouraging you to slow down. As if nature is saying “Take it easy – your body is growing a baby inside of you. You need all the rest you can get.” Because you know for sure that you’re not going to get much rest once the baby arrives!
And in some ways, going back to work after a career break, or redundancy or maternity leave, feels a bit like that. Though the tiredness might not be quite so intense.
What else can you expect in the first days back at work?
Let’s talk about the tiredness first. When you first go back to work, especially if you go back full-time, you will most likely experience extreme tiredness in the first week or two. For starters, you may well be feeling the effects of broken nights if your child is still waking up in the night.
Even if your child mostly sleeps through the night, you may well be waking up super early. In my experience, lots of 2 year olds think that 4am is the perfect time to get up and be active!
It’s not just the sleep factor
As well as the sleep factor, you need to reacquaint yourself with the commute. The overcrowding on the trains. The lack of ventilation. The heat in the summer. The standing around on platforms. The queuing for the bus. The inevitable delays on the roads if you drive to work.
On the upside, if you take public transport, you get the bonus of time to yourself to read or do Sudoku or maybe crochet or just sit and stare out of the window without being bombarded with “Why Mummy, Why”.
Plus of course, you are getting used to being in the office again and using your brain in a different way. Particularly if you are going back to a different role or to a different employer. You will be learning new processes, meeting new people, familiarising yourself with different systems, exploring a new area … and so much more. Quite frankly, some of that is tiring even if you didn’t have a young baby or toddler.
Are you wondering?
Your confidence may well take a bit of a dip and your stress levels increase because you’re wondering:
- Can I remember how to do my job?
- Am I still up to it?
- How much has the technology changed?
- Who’s going to be watching when I need to leave on time?
- What happens when I get stuck?
- How’s my child going to settle into nursery?
- What if the childminder is sick?
- What if I hate my new boss?
Don’t expect too much of yourself in those first days back at work after a career break or redundancy. You are likely to be extra tired and maybe wondering if you’ve made the right decision.
I always encourage my clients to be kind to themselves and to make time to look after their own physical and emotional wellness.
How to look after yourself when you go back to work
Ways that you can look after yourself when you do go back to work:
- Take a brisk walk round the block at lunchtime.
- Get up and walk about regularly (you’d be doing this at home without thinking about it).
- Choose healthy lunch options.
- Avoid too much caffeine.
- Have a relaxing bath at home.
- Go for a run when you get home.
- Book yourself a treat for a few days’ time such as a massage or a Spa day.
- Give yourself permission to be tired.
What about you? What did you find the most challenging in the first days back at work?