Return to work

Going back to work can bring a mixture of emotions and no two people will feel the same way about it. When, how, and if you return to work is entirely down to you and what suits your family best. Just as every child is unique, every family is unique.

If you’re feeling worried about returning to work, you’re not alone. Research from PACEY revealed the true extent of the emotional impact that many mothers face. Nine out of ten mums (90%) said they felt anxious about returning to work after having a child and around half of those (48%) felt very anxious. 

The decision as to who would look after their children was a major worry – half of respondents (48%) were anxious that they wouldn't find suitable childcare. Read more in our news story here. 

Childcare providers play a vital role in reducing parents’ concerns during the transition back to work and in supporting children to settle in. Explore the childcare options available to you and consider the type of setting you think will best suit your child. Spend time with potential childcare providers to see how they respond to your little one and the other children at their setting.

When parents are choosing childcare, I think it’s important that they go in and start off by looking at the people / the person who’ll be caring directly for their child. Toys and resources are important, but actually with children it’s the people that matter.

Penny Tassoni

If you're a parent whose child is about to start childcare, and you're returning to work, we have the tips, advice and guidance to support you. 

Useful resources

Top tips

If you're a parent returning to work, we understand the emotion and anxiety you might be feeling. Here are our top tips to take the stress out of returning to work:

  • Do your research and plan ahead. Often childcare settings have waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to start your search early. Spend time choosing a childcare setting that’s right for you and your family. It’s important that you feel happy, comfortable and confident with the person or people who’ll be caring for your little one. 
  • Think about settling in days for your child. Many parents stay for a couple of sessions, then do some mini sessions to support a gentle transition. Ask your childcarer how they usually help children to settle in. In time, a good childcare provider will develop a strong bond with your child, helping them to feel happy and safe in their new environment.
  • Share your child’s likes and dislikes. This will help your childcare provider to get to know your child as an individual. It will also mean they can lay out some of your child’s favourite things to make them feel at home.
  • Speak to your employer early if you’re thinking about changing your hours. You might be considering part-time or flexi-hours. Asking about these things in advance will help you to feel prepared.
  • Share your worries. Talk to your childcare provider about any concerns you have and keep dialogue flowing. A strong working relationship will benefit all of you and provide stability for your child.
  • Choose qualityFinding the right childcare will lessen your anxiety about returning to work. A childcare provider who is a member of PACEY is demonstrating their commitment to professional standards and delivering high-quality childcare.

Helping your child settle in

If your child is starting a new childcare setting it’s important that you are both happy and supported through the transition.

Remember to allow as much time as you can for both you and your child to get familiar with your new setting. Here we talk through tips before they start, the settling-in period, and greeting and saying goodbye. Including Penny Tassoni's five-step settling in process. 

Factsheets to download

Role of the key person

Whatever your childcare setting, your child will have a key person/worker assigned to them. Learn more about what the key person's role is and how you can work well together. Download this factsheet to learn more.  

Transitions and settling in

Change can be a challenge - for you as well as for your child. This factsheet looks at how you and your childcarer can work together to support your child through change - from settling in with a new childcarer to leaving childcare and heading to school. Download this transitions and settling in factsheet to learn more.