Returning to work after maternity leave: Part Three Change, choice and gratitude.

Nothing is forever. However bad you feel on your first day back at work, it will not feel as bad in a month or a year. Casting my mind back almost eight years ago, I cried when I first left my son with his childminder to travel to work for the day.  After three hours in the office, I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t thought about him for three hours (and then felt guilty!) Please refer to last blog post for guilt!

It’s a truism that change happens in life, but the sooner we learn to accept that nothing is forever, both the bad and the good, the calmer and more resilient we become. Change is part of life, and this change from being with your baby 24/7 to being away from him for perhaps more than half those 24 hours will pass too. It’s not forever.

Repeat after me:  “This too shall pass” Keep repeating and make this your mantra for getting through the difficult times at any point in your life, not just at the post maternity transition back to work.
If you hate your job, try giving yourself a time limit. Tell yourself that you’ll do the job for, say another three months, and then re-assess. Put that date in your diary so that it’s real, and treat it as a “probationary” period. I’ve put this plan into place with so many of my clients. It works wonders for lifting you and giving you the energy to focus on something beyond your current situation.
This brings me to choice. You may be thinking, “How can she say it’s not forever. I’ve got to do this job because I have to earn this money and there’s no other job that will pay me this money”. Well, guess what, you don’t have to do anything.  You live in the Western World, where we have freedom and rights as women, you have education, you have imagination, and you have so many resources that you probably don’t even notice them. If you want to change, then you can.  Perhaps not easily, perhaps not immediately, but there is always a way.
Spend about ten minutes or so pondering on the following coaching questions – it’s even better if you can discuss them with a like-minded friend and get a discussion going, or scribble your thoughts down on paper.


  • What is choice?
  • What is it to choose?
  • What if I chose differently from my current path?
  • How could I choose to make the best of this period?
  • How could I choose to make going back to work fun?
  • In what ways could I do this?
  • What state do I choose now? To be happy or to be unhappy?


Learn about gratitude. Appreciate the good things in your life and give thanks for them.  A great exercise to do when you’re feeling down in the dumps is to write a list of at least 30 things that you are thankful for, every day.  You may want to thank God if you have faith, or otherwise thank the universe, or just thank life.
Start to appreciate the little things and live in the moment. Give thanks for the smile your baby gave you in the morning before you left, or give thanks for the way the sun shines on the River Seine as you walk to work on a glorious May morning, or thanks for the delicious coffee that you enjoyed at breakfast.
And lastly on this point, learn to thank yourself – be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for all that you do as a woman, mother, worker, lover, spouse, friend, daughter, sister and so on.
Amanda Alexander is mum to two fabulous boys and Founder and Director of Coaching Mums. Since 2003, Coaching Mums has helped thousands of working mums to swap guilt-ridden, stress-driven vicious circle for virtuous circles of calm, confidence and fulfilment. To help you achieve this in all the roles that you juggle, we offer you our free EBook “From chaos to calm” at







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