Returning to work after maternity leave
As I am about to return to work myself after taking a full year off with my second baby, I know first hand it can be quite a difficult process.
Having a baby and everything that goes with it can really knock a person’s confidence. Having been in this situation twice now, the changes you go through and the time you spend alone can really make you feel out of the loop.
Then, suddenly, maternity leave is over and the time has come to return to work. For a lot of people, this can be pretty hard.
Someone else has been doing your job, and even though everyone says they can’t wait for you to come back, it’s inevitable to feel a bit worried.
What if the person covering is better at the job than you? What if everyone likes them more?
Trust me, having already gone through this once, it is normal to feel this way.
So being in this position again, here are some top tips to help anyone who will be going back to work after maternity leave.
Keep in touch
Take your super cute baby in to meet everyone. People love having a new born in the office and 99% really want to see you too.
Go to the work dos. You may feel nervous, but believe me, you will have a great time and, most of the time, it is paid for by the company. So why not? It is a great way to keep in touch with your colleagues and keep those friendly relationships going.
If there is some training, and you want to attend, then you should. It’s a great way to keep your mind working and you feel part of the team still. Don’t forget, you’re entitled to up to 10 days paid work during maternity leave in the UK and it is totally up to you if you want to do these days and how many you do.
Meet with your manager
Ask to meet outside the office for a bit of lunch. It’s nice to keep it informal. You can chat about the office, has anyone left, is there anyone new? How’s the team doing without you? This will make you feel better and also show your manager that you are still invested.
I always came away feeling reassured.
Plan your childcare well in advance
This is something you don’t want hanging over you at the last minute. Meet with childminders and view nurseries to work out what is right for your child/children, and being practical, your finances!
Make sure work works for you
There is no point in promising your employer you will be back full time and working all the hours when, really, you can’t.
Speak to your employer about options for more flexible working hours or part-time opportunities if this is what you need.*
*In the UK, you will need to have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks to apply for any of the above.
Meet up with your work friends
If you have built proper friendships with some of your colleagues, meet up with them. Catch up on the gossip, have a laugh. Some of my best friends are former colleagues so it is always important to keep in touch.
Get dressed up
Look forward to dressing up a bit for work. Enjoy the fact you’re not covered in sticky baby hand prints (lol).
Go get yourself some new work clothes, buy a new bag and turn up feeling fresh. It will make you feel great and really help with those first day nerves.
Get organised and plan ahead
Make lunches in advance. You don’t want to be making everyone’s food at 5am in the morning.
Plan your dinners. You don’t want to fall in the trap of having a take away every other night.
Do your food shop online and get it delivered, you don’t need to be in the supermarket at 9pm (that’s when Love Island is on!)
Prepare your childminder/nursery in advance. Write lists for them: foods, nap times, medicines. Anything they will need to know, so they don’t need to call you every five minutes. And don’t forget to give them lots of spare clothes, nappies etc. Make sure they know drop off and pick up times and, of course, who will be doing them.
We all know the saying: if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!
And last of all but, most importantly, be good to yourself
Get plenty of sleep. I know it’s tricky with little ones but a few early nights at the start will do you wonders.
Don’t over commit yourself outside of work. People will understand that you can’t be everywhere all the time. You need time to adjust and your free time to be with your little one/ones.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t remember everything when you go back either. You’ll get support.