The first months of your baby’s life can pass by in a bit of a blur. As they grow and develop and you spend every single day with them, the end of your maternity leave can come from nowhere. Returning to work after maternity is a big adjustment, and many mothers struggle to juggle both work and family life. No matter what emotions you’re feeling, making a plan will help make the transition smoother and help you readjust to the world of work. Take a look at these top tips to help you plan your return from maternity leave.
1. Make a countdown
In the final few weeks of your maternity leave, you should make a countdown in your calendar to help you work out what needs doing during those final few weeks. Add in tasks such as organising your childcare, making travel arrangements and shopping for new office clothes that will help you feel more prepared and in control before your return. You can also help yourself to adjust to the thought of going back by arranging an office visit or a catch up with colleagues before you return to get that ‘first-day’ awkwardness out of the way before your actual first day.
2. Have a meaningful conversation with your manager
As part of the return process, your manager should offer you a return to work interview as a way to catch up and help both sides to manage expectations. This can include telling you about any structural changes, office news and details of current projects to help bring you back up to speed. This is also an opportunity for you to discuss what you expect from returning to work such as flexible working, an adjustment of hours or the ability to work from home when needed. Consulting a returning to work interview guide could help you prepare and find out what to expect. It may seem daunting asking for a change to your terms and conditions, but it’s important to have these conversations early to avoid upset further down the line.
3. Plan a phased return
A phased return is a great way to help you adjust to working life and being a mum. Among your maternity leave rights is the fact that you build up holiday during your maternity in the same way you would have in the office. A good way to use this leave is to take it so that you can come back for one day a week, then two days a week and build yourself up to your full working week. By planning your return for mid-week, you can ensure plenty of rest either side to make it easier to adjust. Discuss your phased return with your manager and come to an agreement that suits you both.
4. Do some practice runs
The worst thing you could do is not have a practice run to establish your new morning routine. A morning routine pre-baby was chaotic enough, imagine the new possibilities with a baby! Spend a few mornings working out the best time to get up, how to pack everything you need and juggling getting ready with the baby to avoid it being a shock on that first morning. By having a few practice runs, you’ll probably be able to knock some time off so that you can head into your first morning feeling calm and prepared.
5. Treat yourself
Just like returning after a holiday, going back to work after a holiday can fill you with dread and anxiety. In the week before your planned return to work, plan a pamper day to help you feel calm and relaxed ahead of this big change. Getting your nails done, a new haircut and treating yourself to some new makeup will help you feel more polished and office-ready after months of loungewear and not having the time to brush your hair. A new wardrobe that flatters your body will make you feel more confident and ensure you have something to wear during those first few weeks. Browse the latest office wear trends and enjoy the thrill that a smart new set of clothes brings.
Returning to work comes with all sorts of challenges, and how you manage all of your work and home responsibilities will take some adjustment. There are some great housework hacks you can use to make some of your home responsibilities easier, while many tasks such as paying the bills and food shopping can be done online in your lunch hour. It may seem like you’re the only one struggling with this change but remember there are women out there doing the same thing every day – if they can do it, why can’t you?