It came second after missing their children, as one of the major factors that parents were most anxious about.
Nine in ten mothers surveyed admitted that they were anxious about returning to work.
Asked to rank in order of importance the three things that made them most anxious, parents said missing their child too much (61 per cent), finding suitable childcare (48 per cent), and their working arrangements not being compatible with having children (40 per cent).
PACEY said that the emotional impact on mothers, and children, during the transition back to work was all too often underestimated, and childcare providers play a vital role in alleviating parents’ concerns during this time.
When asked what three factors would be most likely to make then feel less anxious about returning to work, most mothers said the ability to work part-time or flexibly (82 per cent), followed by finding suitable childcare (54 per cent), and a manager that understood the demands of being a parent (50 per cent).
Perhaps not surprisingly, money was given as the main reason for returning to work. When asked what they were most looking forward to about going back, 76 per cent said contributing to family finances, 61 per cent cited having more financial independence, and 53 per cent said socialising with colleagues.
Penny Tassoni, PACEY President and Early Years expert comments, said, ‘Our research shows how heightened anxiety is for mothers when they return to work and what an incredibly stressful time it is. With the increasing pressure on mothers to achieve the perfect work/life balance, feelings of guilt, anxiety and worry are all-consuming and separation anxiety is increasingly commonplace amongst parents and children.
'The childcare setting is central to mums successfully returning to work, and getting this right will have a positive impact on both mother and child.’
How much childcare?
When asked about the number of childcare hours they intended to use per week, most mothers said 10 - 20 hours (31 per cent), followed by 20 - 30 hours (28 per cent).
Of interest, given the Government’s planned expansion to 30 hours of free childcare, just 16 per cent of mothers planned on using 30 - 40 hours of childcare a week, and only 8 per cent more than 40 hours a week.
When asked what their main type of childcare would be, the top three types of provision were private day nurseries (36 per cent), childminders (19 per cent), and informal childcare (15 per cent).
The other types of childcare mothers said they used on a weekly basis, in order of use, were informal (40 per cent), before- and after-school clubs (22 per cent), and childminders (12 per cent).
The survey of 1,000 mothers was carried out by PACEY between August 2015 and February 2016, in association with Netmums.
- PACEY has developed factsheets and tips to help parents at www.pacey.org.uk/returntowork