Going back to work after a long period of maternity leave can be a daunting prospect for any new mother.
It can be a mixed bag of emotions – for some it’s exciting, for others it’s worrying. As the return date grows closer, these worries and doubts can creep into your mind: Will the baby be looked after? Have I forgotten how to do my job? How am I going to juggle looking after a newborn with a full-time job?
But don’t worry, going back to work doesn’t have to burst your new baby bubble! It’s actually the start of an exciting new chapter for you, your baby and your family. Here are our top tips for before, during and after the transition back to work.
Plan ahead before your maternity leave ends
Planning ahead is a great way to make getting back in the swing of things, that little be easier. Firstly, you need to decide the date you want to return to work. Plan this ahead with your boss; perhaps you might pick a midweek date so that you have a shorter week to ease yourself back in.
You also need to plan your new routine for when you return to work. What time do you need to leave in the morning to fit in a nursery drop? Do you need to factor in delayed trains and traffic jams? Give yourself time to plan ahead for these little things and even practice with a dry run!
Finally, you need to take into consideration that at some point, your child will pick up an illness at nursery, especially within the first couple of weeks of them starting. Asking for time off work to take care of a sick child can be awkward when you’ve only just got back to work! Check with your partner or family member to set up a contingency plan in case this happens to take the pressure off yourself.
After such a long time off, it can feel like you’re out of the loop when returning to your job. What you need to remember that you’re not expected to remember all the little ins and outs of office life straight away!
As a way to catch yourself up, it can be good to catch up with your boss and put together a plan to get you back into the swing of work after your maternity leave. It’s also beneficial if, before your start date, you make the most of your ‘Keep In Touch’ days. Employees can work up to 10 days during maternity leave if they’re pre-arranged with your boss. Not only do these KIT days help you with returning to work, but also help your baby get used to being in daycare.
Ease yourself back in
Going straight back into the 9-5 routine can be overwhelming and stressful on yourself and your child. As we mentioned above, there will be a lot to catch yourself up on once you return from maternity leave, so it could be best to make the most of flexi-time or part-time opportunities. Discuss with your employee on how you want to rejoin the company, whether it’s 3 days in the office and 2 at home, or vice versa
If your company doesn’t offer flexible working or you don’t want to go on part-time pay rates, then why not use holiday accrued during your maternity leave? Phase a return to full-time employment by working a few three day weeks and then gradually building up? You’ll feel a lot less stressed and tired if you do! Plus it means you won’t be away from your baby for the full 8 hour working day.
Look after yourself!
Throughout your maternity leave and pregnancy, it’s important to remember to look after yourself. And this also applies when returning to work! Motherhood can be stressful, so looking after your mental and physical wellbeing is very important.
We suggest the following to keeping yourself relaxed and healthy:
- Get a good night’s sleep, you’ll appreciate it more when getting up at 6.30 am!
- Treat yourself every once and a while. Whether it’s a mid-morning coffee or a Saturday night takeaway, use these little lifts to give you a boost.
- Connect and talk with others who are also in your situation. Join a mum’s support network, and they will be able to offer you advice and tips to manage juggling looking after a baby and being back at work.
- Relax where you can. For the first few weeks, it might be sensible to avoid committing to social events and simply staying in to allow your body to adjust to the change.
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