Tips For Returning To Work After Maternity Leave

With around 30% of women leaving their jobs within two years of going back after maternity leave, it’s clear that returning to work after maternity leave is a rocky road. It brings about all sorts of emotions for many mothers – for some it’s a worry, for other it’s exciting.

The good news is that many employers are open to finding flexible solutions to help new parents, and 79% of mums now request flexible working arrangements on their return. But there are practical tips that can help to make life easier too, before, during and after the transition back to work. 

Be organised and do it in bite-sized chunks
  • Choose a specific return date – but not Monday! Make your first week back a short one if possible as it’s not only easier for you but for your baby and any other children you have too. 
  • Plan your new routine. What time must you be out of the house by to do the nursery run and still be on time for work? What does your baby need every day in their changing bag? 
  • Be prepared for coughs and colds. It’s a well-known fact that babies starting with a childminder or nursery will pick up bugs at some time or another. And probably fairly regularly too! So it’s worth having a back-up plan for if your baby is ill. Enlist the help of some willing grandparents or friends you can call on at short notice, or make sure you have a few emergency annual leave days you could use.

Confidence Issues

Lots of new mums find their confidence at work has taken a hit when they’ve been away for several months adjusting to the demands of a new baby. It’s easy to worry that you won’t remember how to do things, or just feel a little ‘rusty’. Hopefully our tips will help:

 

  • Whilst you’re on maternity leave, try to keep in touch with work as much as possible, say once a month. Many companies also offer KIT (Keep In Touch) days where you can go in to work for the day to catch up on what’s been going on in your job while you’ve been away. If possible, meet some of your colleagues for a meal or have a coffee with your boss a few weeks before going back – it can make your first day feel much less daunting.

 

  • Give yourself time to get settled. Consider keep your out-of-office autoreply switched on for the first couple of days so you can go through your emails and ease yourself back in to the world of work before colleagues start asking you for things.

 

  • Don’t plough on in silence. If you’re struggling with something ask for help, especially if there are new projects which kicked off whilst you were away. Your boss and colleagues should be able to bring you up to speed, and don’t feel silly for asking. You’ve been out of the office for quite some time; nobody’s going to be surprised if you’re a bit behind and need updating on things.
Sort the practical stuff in the home
Eventually you’ll find you pick up lots of tricks and shortcuts to make juggling working life with a family life a bit easier. Although everyone does things differently, hopefully you might find some of these ideas useful:

 

  • Sort everything you need the night before – packed lunches, clothes for the baby/other children, work clothes for you. Quick jobs that take a few minutes at night can somehow seem much more like a big deal during the morning rush.

 

  • Think about dinner – consider eating at lunch time if your little ones eat at nursery, or batch cook at the weekend. Things like lasagne and curry are really easy to batch cook and are cheap to make too. Another option is to buy a slow-cooker so you’re not stuck in the kitchen during those few short hours between work and the children’s bedtime.

 

  • Do your food shopping online, employ a cleaner if you can, and bulk buy essentials like loo rolls and washing powder. Also freeze some milk and bread so you’ve always got some fresh – saves a panicky dash to the shops.

Make the most of your lunch break

There are lots of things you can do within your lunch break to free up time at home:

  • Do any online grocery shopping, sort out your personal emails or banking, or even buy your birthday presents.
  • Book yours and your family’s medical appointments – doctors, dentists, eye tests etc.
  • Do something for yourself – get your nails done, book a blow dry or just plan to have some me time.  
Go easy on yourself

Returning to work after maternity leave can be great fun, but it can also be a big challenge. Make sure you look after yourself, especially as there are likely to be a few tears and stressful moments

  • Get plenty of sleep. Some things are important but not urgent and the can wait until tomorrow. Sleep is sometime the best cure! 
  • Have a treat to look forward to. A tasty piece of mid-morning chocolate cake might be the perfect pick me up for a while, or a takeaway on a Friday.
  • Don’t make any plans for evenings or make big weekend plans during your first few weekends back at work. Make it just work and home for now, and add in a social life later, once you are used to your routine. 
  • Consider joining an internet forum of new mums or a local mums griup who are in the same boat and don’t forget to ask for help if you’re struggling. Keep your partner, family and friends in the loop; you’ll be surprised at how common your feelings are – both good and bad.

Whatever you choose to do to help you get back into work after maternity leave, make sure you still have a little time for yourself each day, even if it’s just a few minutes. There are no prizes for being the world’s best parent (they don’t exist anyway) and it’s fine to muddle through for a while. Best of luck!