Returning to work after taking maternity leave can be pretty daunting. As someone who has recently gone through this, I can tell you that it’s not always easy but with some preparation and support it can be a positive experience.
My fiancée and I had several conversations about how much time I would take off on maternity leave and what returning to work would be like. At the time, I felt confident that I would be ready to get back to work after six months of being away. However, when the time came, I was surprised at how intimidating and emotional it was to return to work.
I had just spent six blissful and exhausting months figuring out new parenthood and here I was, now returning to work. I had so many thoughts running through my head.
What if I had forgotten how to perform in my job? What if everything had changed during my absence? How would I balance my work commitments with my baby’s needs? Would my colleagues view me differently now that I was a mother?
Unsurprisingly, I was overwhelmed and anxious. The most significant feeling I had was that I wasn’t able to balance being the best version of myself – for my baby, for my family, for my work. I shed a few tears before I realised that actually, my feelings were COMPLETELY NORMAL.
Okay, so it seems like I’ve painted a rather unnerving picture of returning to work. I wanted to share an honest experience and hopefully it can bring awareness and perhaps some comfort to parents returning to work experiencing similar feelings.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all super scary. I really looked forward to having some regular adult conversation again and putting my work hat back on helped a lot with the ‘baby brain’. Also, the smile on my son’s face when he sees me after work is so worth it!
Now that I’m a few weeks back in, I’d like to share some tips to hopefully help your return to work be a positive one:
1.) Communication is key!
Speak to your manager. Speak to your partner. Reach out to other colleagues and friends who have also been through this. If you share how you are feeling/managing they will know better how to support you through this transition. In our studios, we have 37 Wellbeing Champions that we can confidentially confide in. I know I can reach out to them if I need someone to talk to, and they will listen, give their advice and sign post me to any further resources I might need.
2.) Plan ahead
And I mean well ahead. Plan your childcare schedule long before you return to work. Some nurseries have waiting lists, so take that into consideration. Get familiar with what your working week will look like ahead of time. If you have KIT (keeping in touch) days, consider taking them to help you stay in the loop.
3) Understand your options
Speak to your HR about any flexible working policies. Our studios have a great flexible working policy and I am lucky enough to be able to work from home so I can manage my work-life balance a lot easier. Craig Charsley, our Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist wrote a blog about this, check it out here!
4.) Take care of yourself
You might feel like you are being pulled in all directions, but you have to take a minute for you as well. A lot of employers including mine have perks and policies on health and wellbeing so take them up on it!
Returning to work after a time off can be unsettling, but I hope my tips can offer some help. You got this!