Practical Tips for Returning to Work after Maternity Leave
GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE
In essence, preparing for returning to work after maternity leave, starts before you even walk out the door on your last day. Ensuring the person that is filling in for you, while you are gone, is up to speed and capable, will give you some solace, that when you do return, things will be manageable. So, if you can (and I totally know that it won’t be what you are in the mood for, when you are 8 months pregnant!) get involved with the recruitment process and make sure you have a say on the type of person that will be replacing you for a few months. It will make coming back that much easier and hopefully you will have a smooth handover.
What you don’t need is to be walking back into a sinking ship… Going back to work for the first time after maternity leave can be different for everyone. Some women will be looking forward to it and some will be dreading it, most will be a mix of the two. Whichever it is, it’s totally normal to feel the feelings, just go with it. Leaving your baby is never going to be easy, even if this is your second, third or fourth time doing it! Each return brings with it, new challenges and of course our friend the “guilt”! Lean on friends who have been through this before and be kind to yourself, you’ve been through so much already.
OK, maybe this shouldn’t be top of the list, but it’s all about making you feel good and confident about going back. If that means picking up a few new outfits, I’m all for it! Any excuse!
Plan your return
Some women find going back mid-week makes the whole process seem a less daunting. I always found keeping in touch with colleagues over the months, helped me still feel part of everything and made it easier to slot back in. Meeting with your boss for a coffee and a chat a few weeks beforehand can be really beneficial too and help take the “fear” out of returning.
Inevitably, your whole routine is going to change. It’s all about being as prepared as possible. What time will you need to leave the house? What time will you need to leave work? Will it be you or your partner doing the dropping or collecting? Be clear on who is doing what. Be prepared for illness over the first few weeks, it’s going to happen! With any childcare, your baby is going to be subject to all those lovely germs, while they are sharing sippy cups, chewed toys and hugging their new buddies! To take the pressure off you, have your partner or other family member on standby, so they can take the time off to look after them until you get settled back in.
When you return, remember, you set the pace. If you need to leave every day at 5pm, then start off that way and stick to it. Don’t stay late the first few days back, this gives the signal that you can still do this and will be available to do this in the future.
Make life easier
Take every opportunity to make your life easier, this will give you more time to spend with your little one.
If you can, hire a cleaner.
It’s such a huge help and weight off, when you know you don’t have to spend your precious weekend catching up on mopping and cleaning toilets and dusting stuff!
For me, this was a godsend. Who in their right mind wants to be roaming around a supermarket with baby in tow, when you have a million other things you could be doing?
Yes, it’s going to take time out of your weekend, but I promise you will be grateful, when all you have to do on a Monday night is heat up your yummy hearty dinner, instead of cooking and eating at 8pm!
I’m not so good at this, but every time I try it, it works and I’m sure it saves money too!
As a working mom of three, the best bit of advice I can give you is, be good to yourself and to tell you that you are doing an amazing job! This really is a rollercoaster time in your life and it’s easy to lose sight of what is really important and that is you and your family. In the midst of the madness, it’s so refreshing to stop, take stock and look at all you have achieved and everything you are achieving every day. Soak it all in, it goes so fast.
So, chin up, you can do this and on your first day back, you can look forward to your first (not cold) cup of coffee in months! Every cloud has a silver lining!
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