It can be difficult and daunting to return to work after maternity leave. You have probably had the best part of a year away from the workplace, have had a baby and now are having to leave your baby to go back. You have to balance being a parent and a career, and even for experienced parents, that is not always easy. However, with a little bit of forward planning, going back to work after maternity leave can feel a little more manageable.
#1 Make sure your employer fills out any appropriate paperwork on your return
You will need to provide your employer with the certain return to work forms during your first week back. Just as you gave a statement declaring your intention to start maternity, you will need to prepare a letter stating your intention to return to work following maternity leave. It should include a reference to your initial letter’s departure date as well as the date you plan to return to your work.
Your employer should also plan to revisit workplace health and safety, as well as any new issues that may arise as a result of your status as a new mother. When you return to work following maternity leave, bring any updated medical documents and childcare information with you in case of an emergency.
#2 Practice your new routine in advance
Begin to reintroduce a ‘working day’ framework into your everyday routine before you need it. Practicing your new morning routine around work and your new arrival can help you adjust to the changes and will also give you an idea of how much time you will need each morning. Remember not only have you got to get yourself ready, but you will probably need to get your child ready, other children ready, and get them to childcare before heading to work.
Look at batch cooking a few meals and sticking them in the freezer so they just need reheating – the last thing you will want to do in those first few days and weeks is to have to think about cooking a full meal when you get home.
Look at other things that will save you time – instead of going to the supermarket, order your groceries to be delivered and meal plan so that you know exactly what you are going to eat and when. You can also look at somewhere that can deliver your NHS prescriptions to save going back and forth to a chemist.
#2 Try to go back mid-week if possible
After months spent at home, starting a full five-day work week can feel extremely different. It may work for some, but it may be easier for others to arrange a mid-week return. If you have moved house during your maternity leave, make sure to plan the logistics of your new commute and notify your employer so that you can anticipate and plan for any potential complications that may occur. Ease back into things, making your gradual return to work after maternity leave more enjoyable and safe in the knowing that respite in the form of the weekend is not too far away!
#3 Organise emergency contacts and backup plans
Returning to work after maternity leave should be a smooth transition, but if things do not go as planned, it is critical to have a contingency plan in place for those days.
Before starting work, new parents should check into childcare options that work for them, as it can be tough to organise. Check that the policy for taking time off is clear, and if it is not, double-check with your boss. If you feel differently about your hours when you return to work, it is indeed crucial to be honest about it. Your management and the company should be supportive of any changes, and it is a good idea to see how adaptable they prepared to be.
#4 Catch up with your work mates before you go back
By making plans to catch up with a coworker or your manager, you can prepare for new faces, new processes, social news, and anything else you may have missed when returning to work following your maternity leave. In the United Kingdom, you are entitled to ten paid KIT (keeping in touch) days while you are on maternity leave for this very reason – it is a very good idea to make use of at least a few of them.
During your maternity leave, spend some one-on-one time with your manager or department head to discuss how you want to return to work, your hours, and your career growth. Make sure you express your concerns when you return, and even after you have returned.
It is a good idea to discuss any work arrangements that may change while you are gone, such as management changes, during this discussion. Keeping you informed will help you prepare for what to expect when you return to the office.
#5 What will be your next move?
Given the above recommendations, there are several approaches you can take while returning to work following maternity leave. What is evident is that it all boils down to your needs as a new parent and being gentle with yourself. It is usually a good idea to be open and honest with your team about any difficulties you are having as a new parent. Do not take it for granted that everyone understands what it means to have a young family. When returning to work following maternity leave, it may take some time to pick up where you left off professionally, which is completely normal. Consider whether your childcare strategy is in line with your career objectives. It is critical to be realistic and understand what you want to accomplish both at work and at home.
It is beneficial to network with other parents in the organisation and solicit their recommendations and guidance on how to handle returning to work after parental leave. Conversations with other parents will assist to normalise all you are going through, allowing you to enjoy your time off and your return to work after maternity leave.
Thanks for reading , what are your best tips ? Jade x