Grounding, Happiness, Working Mom

The First Week Back at Work after Maternity Leave – How I Got Through the Sadness


This week is a HUGE week for me this week.  I’ve wavered back and forth, wondering if I should go into the week casual, and not put too much significance in it… or whether I should honour the significance of it and treat it as a big deal.




On Monday I returned to work, full time, after an amazing year off with my second born.  Here in Canada, we are blessed with a years’ leave.


My first maternity leave I as quite excited to return to work. I absolutely love what I do for work and the people I work with.  That sentiment did not change.  I was excited to return this week.


However, things shifted a bit between my first and second maternity leaves.

My first, I was not feeling particularly sad.  I was excited for the opportunity to get into a nice motherhood / working professional balance.

My second, I came home after the first day of work and cried. And cried, and cried.


I know, in my heart, that I love my job, my career and wanted to go back.  I know that being full time at home is not optimal for me.  Yet, this time I was so much more sad and full of emotion.

I think I have grown leaps and bounds in terms of comfort with expressing emotion. I don’t hide it any more. I just honour it and let it be. I am not petrified of crying like I used to be.  It’s just water on my cheeks.  Not the end of the world.  And I’ve learnt after 3 years of multiple joys and tragedies, that if you don’t let yourself experience emotion for what it is, it gets trapped inside of you in all sorts of strange ways. Perhaps in the body as pain or ailments.  Perhaps in the mind as depression, or anxiety.  I’ve learnt to just let it be.


So, after wiping up the snot, crying into my husbands’ shoulder and coming to work two days in a row with puffy eyes, I decided to do a bit of analysis.  After all, I am a life coach and I can do this stuff on myself!


I think this may be a very useful thing for some of you who are going through, or are about to go through the same thing.


The first thing I needed to do was understand my sadness, to pinpoint exactly what I was going through.  And that is the point of my post today.  Pinpoint your sadness and give it the attention it needs.


I sat down with a piece of paper, to put some words to the tears.  Here is what I figured out.




5 items.

Lists are supposed to make things easier, simpler, but how do you reduce the complexities of emotion down into a list?

Well, I think it’s a decent start.  What was interesting about doing this, is that each item on my list is just so subjective.  It’s all based on my perceptions of reality, the unique viewpoint I bring to it.


Let’s take number 1.  Getting wrapped up in 5/7 days away from my kids.  2/7 days on the weekend.

That sentence has been on loop repeat in my mind and gosh, it makes me feel crappy.  I hate that it’s there, over and over and over whispering in my ear.


I know right now that full time work is what I need to do, and if you are in a tough situation you either CHANGE IT or ACCEPT IT.



So, what can I do to help myself accept the fact I am away 5/7 days working?


There is something we do in life coaching called “grounding our assessments.”

Yes, the reality is I am away 5/7 days.  But my assessment is that “5 days is too many to be away from home.”


There are a few things you want to do to tackle each assessment that is NOT HELPING YOU.


  • Figure out if it is serving you in any helpful way
  • Dig into the details of it (deconstruct)
  • What discounts this assessment (reconstruct)



So.  1.  Is this helping me in any way, thinking like this?  Shit no. It makes me feel like crap.  I want to be done with it.  How do you get rid of an unhelpful assessment?  Deconstruct and reconstruct.


Deconstructing it means asking myself, what does 5 days mean?

Well, a work day for me is 8:30-5:30 including commute.

Thing is, I’m home 7-8:30 and 5:30-8:00.  My kids are there.  That means in a day I can be home with them for 5 hours of quality time.


Wait a minute.

That’s almost as much time as what I spend at work. Huh.


That got me thinking and reconsidering this little assessment or “dragon” I am fighting.


Another helpful thing is to think of reasons that your assessment might not be the truth.  Reasons it may not be accurate.


One of my favourite ones has to do with the nature of going back to work and being in the Monday-Friday mindset.




Let that settle in.


Interesting, isn’t it?


I have this mindset that my week is “shot” being at work Monday to Friday, yet at (what feels like) the end of the work week, technically, the week is only 50% over.


So here I am, sitting here, hung up and making myself sad about the fact that between 9 and 5 I am at work, Monday to Friday.

Yet at lunchtime on Thursday the week is only HALF done. I have an entire weekend, and mornings, and evenings to fill my family time with quality experiences.


Getting my brain into this positive flow of thinking led me onto other things, like…


If I get a break by being at work, doing something I enjoy, I’m not totally tapped out by 5:30 by the kids.

Honest to god, on mat leave I was ready to crack the wine, oh wait, I did often crack open the wine, at 5:30 every night.

At work, I am so excited and ready to come home to my kids each evening that 5:30-8:00, formerly a window reserved for tv time, some half assed reading of bed time stories and playtime in the park, is “super engaged/motivated/excited mother Carina who is ready and willing to have quality time.




So there you go, take a shitty thought that doesn’t serve you, that you do not want, and deconstruct it. Then reconstruct it with positive mantras, helpful thinking and silver linings.


I’d love to hear what mindsets helped you get through that first week back and extinguish the thoughts that didn’t help you.















2 thoughts on “The First Week Back at Work after Maternity Leave – How I Got Through the Sadness”

  1. Here is a positive that CFD kids and families get that not a lot of families do. Dad’s that are home with their children 4-6 days a week! Not tmany kids get that much time with their dads! I was sad about the same things that you are but when I tell myself that my kid gets to be home with a parent, and also at an enriching day care program 2-3 days a week with his peers, PLUS a mom who is excited to see him and spend evenings and weekends with him…..what’s better than that? I don’t think I could provide such a well rounded program/lifestyle for my son as a stay at home mom as the mix he gets from dad time, daycare, mom time, and all together family time.


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