Returning to work after maternity leave

This month I am covering returning to work after a break. Today I am focusing on returning after maternity leave.

It always amazes me how soon you need to start planning your return to work after your little one arrives. You think you have all the time in the world and suddenly your baby is 6 months old, sitting up, eating and starting to move around and it's time to start planning your return (or not).

Thinking about returning to work involves two main areas of is more logistical:

  1. Do you want to return to work?
  2. What are the financial implications if you do/don't?
    1. How much do you need to earn vs how much will you spend on childcare?
  3. How many hours would you like to do?
  4. When do you want to return to work?
  5. Who will look after the baby and for how many hours?
  6. What time will you need to leave/drop off to get in/pick up on time?

Be sure to speak to your employers sooner rather than later, particularly if you want to make changes to your contract and be clear about what you want.

Preparing yourself emotionally

Then there is the emotional side...which some parents find difficult to prepare for as you have no idea how you might feel when you leave your little one(s) and find yourself back in the workplace. If you haven't left your baby before then start small, perhaps 20 minutes and gradually increase it. Your childcare provider may offer settling in sessions which are useful for both you and baby to adjust! If you are concerned about leaving your baby then talk to someone about it, ideally someone who has done it before; like everything, it takes time to process the emotions involved and everyone works through them at a different pace.

Prepare for the return by looking through your CV or work description, remind yourself of all your skills and strengths and be clear on what you want to achieve on your return. Be kind to yourself if you are finding it hard, take one day at a time and focus on the positives. You may find you relish the opportunity to get back to an adult conversation, hot drinks and a child-free break, not to mention getting the cogs working again! Many parents say that after being on parental leave returning to work feels like a breeze!

Either way, whether you return or not, do full or part-time, leave your child or work around childcare you are likely to feel some guilt - it's normal. Planning helps, as does reminding yourself you are doing the best you can.

Putting plans in place to help you feel comfortable about leaving your child with the right person/people as well as creating strategies which work for you and your family can help. Let go of the guilt and take one day at a time. 

Next week...returning to work after a sabbatical

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