Going back to work after a period of maternity leave can be a very anxious and stressful time, but there are things you can do to help make the transition easier for you and baby. It’s going to be a huge change for you, baby and the rest of the family and it could take a while for things to settle down. This is completely normal, remember how long it took you to get into the swing of maternity leave in the first place.
I’m not for one second going to say that my return to work went smoothly, because it didn’t for lots of reasons. Some were far beyond my control, but I definitely learnt some things, so here goes:
1. Full Time/Part Time Give this some thought, and if you have the flexibility to reduce your hours give it serious consideration. There is a lot to working full time, running a house and raising a family and it can all soon feel like a treadmill. Even 4 days per week will give you a little breathing space.
2. Keeping in Touch Days Your employer should allow you 10 keeping in touch days. This can help you gauge how you feel about going back to work, and get an idea about what’s been going on while you’ve been away. Perhaps pop into team meetings, access training or arrange some handover time with your maternity cover. Agree with your employer how you’d like your contact to look while your on maternity leave so boundaries are in place and everyone knows what to expect.
3. Don’t Give Yourself a Hard Time It’s OK if things don’t go as smoothly as expected. If your baby is going to nursery or going to be with other children they are likely to pick up bugs. You’re quite likely to catch them too. I haven’t met a Mum yet who hasn’t had to take some domestic leave, sick leave or both as soon as they’ve returned to work after maternity leave. It’s par for the course.
4. Orientation Days No matter what your childcare arrangements are going to be, this is likely to be a huge change for baby. If you’re using a nursery or a childminder you might want to have some orientation visits to get her used to her new carer(s) and surroundings. This will hopefully make it a little easier for everyone. It did take Princess about 3 months to settle in to her nursery, but it was worth it in the end.
5. Things Will Have Changed When you’ve been away for a long time, it’s likely things will have changed to some degree. Some sectors, especially the Public Sector, are subject to constant change as budgets get squeezed more and more. Group dynamics and relationships change. Be prepared for some degree of change and that you will need to adapt to it, as well as everything else your adapting too!
6. Ask For Support This might be from your employer or from your family, but if there are things you can identify that will help make things a bit easier, then see if something can be done. My husband was able to do some of the nursery drop off’s and pick ups so I wasn’t leaving Princess in tears everyday. I was finding this particularly difficult in the early stages of my return to work so sharing the burden really helped.
7. Be Organised I didn’t nail this at all, but I can see that it would really help to do some batch cooking and get some meals in the freezer for the working week. Keep on top of the laundry and give people in the house regular jobs to do. In our house Dad loads the dishwasher and Teen empties it. One does the recycling bin, the other does the general bin. Every little helps!
These are just 7 ideas, but there are things that you may want to add that would work for your family. Going back to work after maternity leave is something you can’t help but think about as the day comes closer. Make those thoughts practical and helpful ones for you and your family.