For many women, returning to work after maternity leave , will provoke a mix of emotions. There will be excitement at returning to the office and having ‘grown up’ conversations again. Anxiety about leaving your baby in the care of someone else whilst you work. Worries about how your baby will cope without you,how you will breatfeed and of course, guilt. Many working mothers have felt that ‘mummy guilt‘. Whilst you may be very keen to go to work , you may be feeling guilty about not spending enough time with your child and missing key milestones.
As well as battling with your emotions , you have to deal with the demands of juggling motherhood alongside your work responsibilities. You will more than likely be getting by on less sleep than usual. Although you now have new priorities in your home life, you will be expected to be as capable as you were before you went on maternity leave.
Those first few weeks and months will be challenging but using some of the suggestions below may make the transition a little easier for you.
Reach Out To Colleagues
Before you return try reaching out to your manager. Speak to them about changes to your hours and use the opportunity to start setting expectations. You could also arrange to meet with colleagues. You could organise virtual catchups. This is a great chance to catchup on office gossip, learn about any changes and reconnect with your colleagues.
Plan Your New Journey
Your journey to the office will no doubt be a little different now. You may have to set the alarm a little earlier especially if your child is going to a nursery or childminder. It might be useful to plan a trial run of your new morning routine. Think about how you will get yourself ready and take baby to the nursery before heading off to work. It maybe that you will alternate drop offs with a partner. All this needs to be planned in advance.
Be Kind To Yourself
Don’t expect to be at your very best on the first day back. Give yourself time to breathe and familiarise yourself with the working environment again. Don’t expect to hit the ground running on the first day. Your employers will not be demanding that of you, so don’t put that pressure on yourself.
Try not to schedule big presentations or meetings in your first week back. There may have been alot of changes whilst you have been away. New colleagues, new processes – make sure you are up to speed as soon as you can.
Practice Self Care
With so much going on , you may think taking care of yourself should take a back burner. Self care has never been more important than it is now. Try and carve out some time for yourself, even if it’s just 15mins in the evening. Take a warm bath, do some yoga, listen to music or meditate.
Self care isn’t just about baths and candles. It’s also about positive thinking and eliminating the negative self talk. Do not give yourself a hard time about returning to work. You may not be back to 100% but that’s ok. You may never get back to who you were before having the baby but that’s ok too. There are different priorities in your life now. Negative self talk will make you anxious and damage your confidence even further.
Set Boundaries and Expectations
It is quite likely that your schedule will have to change. It will have to accomodate picks up and other child care emergencies. Make sure you set expectations for your colleagues. Explain any change in hours and other changes to your work day. Make sure you set your boundaries very clearly. Don’t take work home with you ( unless in an emergency), try not to answer calls or emails at home. If you need to leave at a certain time, make that clear to your colleagues. If you need to work on a specific project try to work around timelines or suggest alternatives. Protect your time. Set your boundaries.
Make Time For Pumping
Will you need to pump milk in the office? Make sure you speak to your HR department about pumping before you return. Think about where and when you will be pumping.You may need to schedule some time in your calendar to pump.
So we hope these tips help you settle back into work after maternity leave. We would love to hear your stories. Drop a comment below.