Returning to work after maternity leave can be daunting. Numerous thoughts go through the brain ‘Can I still do my job?’ ‘Will I be any good?’ ‘Can I leave my child?’ ‘How do I balance work and my family?’.
Every working mum will be in the same predicament, I certainly know I felt like that! Coming back to work this week was both nerve-wracking and exciting. I shunted the nerves quickly, remembering all the advice I collated from speaking to similar women and reading books and blogs from like-minded mums.
Fortunately, I had brilliant support throughout my maternity leave and a seamless transition back into ‘the office’ (i.e. my home office) thanks to the continued support from MD Brian and the team at Forward Role. All our conversations were open, transparent and honest and the amount of flexibility I have been offered to be a successful working mum is fantastic.
I hope all returning mums will have similar experiences, but if you need some guidance, here are my top tips on returning to work after maternity leave:
1. Don’t put pressure on yourself
I spoke to some high flying mums who said they ‘lost their confidence’ after maternity leave. It is perfectly natural to doubt yourself and your ability after a considerable amount of time away from the office. What you must remember is that your skill set is much stronger now than ever before; your ability to work under pressure, your time management skills and your multi-tasking capabilities to name but a few.
Be kind to yourself and don’t pile on the pressure. It is okay if it takes you a few weeks or months to get back into the swing of things. It is okay if you have forgotten how to use the CRM and it is okay if you have forgotten all your passwords (I did! My first few hours of day 1 were spent resetting all my passwords). A good employer will have reduced expectations as they take their time to get you back up to speed.
2. Sort childcare early
The nursery we chose for our daughter had an 18 month waiting list, so I’m glad I read online to start viewing nurseries whilst pregnant. Whilst working, you want to be happy in the knowledge that your child is in the best possible place. A lot of parents delay childcare searching as they can’t bring themselves to think about parting from their child and returning to work but if you leave it late, you might not get your first (or second) choice of childcare and the days you want might not be available. Your local council website will list all nurseries and childminders in your area along with Ofsted reports for ease of research.
3. Take your time
After your maternity leave, you’re entitled to apply for flexible working. As such, you can ask your employer for a phased return, which could be beneficial for all as you have a handover with you mat cover. You could ask to return part time, work from home or work reduced or flexible hours. Whatever you decide, take your time. If you want to dive head first back into work, go for it! If you’re not ready, speak to your employer and discuss your options.
5. Manage your colleagues expectations
You might be returning to a team who are used to you being the first and the last in the office. Have a conversation with them on day 1 to make them aware that 5pm meetings aren’t plausible for you as you have nursery pickup. If you have decided to alter your hours slightly to fit around drop offs and pick-ups, make your colleagues aware of your new schedule.
5. Maximise your family time
Enjoy your weekends! We all know how work can be all consuming but switch off and enjoy your time with your family. Leave your work phone at home and go to the park and have some quality time with your little one(s).
6. Don’t judge and don’t be judged
Whatever you decide to do, you are doing what is best for you and your family. If you return to work full time, great. If you return to work part time, great. Don’t judge a fellow mum for her choices and certainly do not allow others to judge you for the decisions you have made. Let’s support each other!
Rachel Wheeler is Product & eCommerce Recruitment Lead at Forward Role, so get in touch if you need support finding talent for a role, if you are a candidate looking for your next opportunity...or you want to discuss your experiences returning to work after maternity leave!
Contact: 07599 777531 firstname.lastname@example.org