Being new to motherhood living your new life with your new little human being is something that takes getting used to, to put it lightly! And the thought of going back to work after maternity leave can be daunting. Whether you are excited to go back or find it hard to imagine being away from your baby, there is a lot to consider and many adjustments to make. Going back to work after maternity leave means juggling different priorities, managing your emotions and energy levels whilst still adjusting to your new role as a parent. It is a lot to process and handle all at once, with little time to re-energize and recap. Also taking into consideration that your work environment might have changed since you left it weeks or months ago. On top of all that you may find you are feeling less confident about work in general, which is hardly surprising when you're living on sleep deprivation and have been dealing with baby-talk, napping schedules and dirty nappies around the clock!
Your life is different now and managing both work and your new responsibilities as a mother can be very overwhelming. But it's not impossible. If you put the right expectations and boundaries in place, you can adjust to your new life as smoothly as possible.
Don't forget - go easy on yourself! The number of changes in every area of your life are huge, physically, emotionally and mentally. What works for one may not work for you, it is a personal process. So, cut yourself some slack and ask for emotional support when you need it. All parents need it, it takes a village to raise a child.
Phased return Instead of diving straight back into work full time, try to start slow. Get yourself, and your baby acquainted with your new routine. Baby spends time with the carer whilst you get familiarized at work. For instance, start on a Thursday or request to start working 3 days a week and gradually build it back up. Starting before your maternity leave officially ends might also be an option to facilitate this transition.
Ask for a back-to-work plan with a handover To make the return easier for all parties, ask for a back-to-work plan and a proper handover. This will help set expectations and set you off in the right direction and give you a clearer insight into what to focus on first.
Meet your boss Have a discussion with your boss, perhaps in a more casual setting and ask if there have been any major changes in leadership or priorities that you should be aware of. What are their expectations & goals for you and vice versa. Agree on a follow up meeting a few months after your return, showing your commitment to being back in business.
Flexible working Negotiate flexible working, if you don't ask you will surely not get. Consider part-time work, reduced hours, flexible start and end times, or working from home for a few days a week (we've thoroughly run that pilot in the past two years!). There are options out there that could work well for all. Things don't have to be set in stone, you may find that what you started out with does not work for you and so be open to making changes a little further down the line. Keep the communication lines open and expectations clear. Additional tips Get familiar with saying -no-! You do not have the same amount of time on your hands that you used to have before kids, so be more intentional and specific with where and what you spend your time on. Rather than trying to be on top of everything, put your focus more onto quality rather than quantity. Pick where you want to put your focus and energy on, you can always gradually add to it later down the line. Saying 'no' doesn't mean you can't, it just means you are being more selective and intentional. You will be just fine, there may be bumps in the road but you will work it out eventually. If you would like to delve deeper and find out what you really love to do for work, get in touch, I would love to help you on that journey of discovery. Shine Bright, Claire