Maternity leave passes so quickly – I remember being so focussed on my little one, that I quickly forgot that I used to hold down a responsible job and have a rather full life. So if you’re maternity leave is approaching the end, here are 5 things you should do when thinking about going back to work:
- Workout what you want from work
This is an ideal time to review your career and understand what you want. With changing family circumstances your attitudes to work may alter and you may find that what you needed, enjoyed and challenged you previously just don’t make sense any more. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to return to work?
- What did I get from doing my job? What do I need from it in the future?
- Can I continue to work in the same way as before my maternity leave?
- When is the right time for me to return?
Make the most of your ‘Keeping in Touch’ days – see them as a trial for being back in the workplace – that’s putting your employer on trial to ensure you are comfortable continuing to work there. If you need to change anything, say, your hours or work, don’t be afraid to state clearly what you want.
- Find childcare that cares for your family
Finding childcare that works for you and your family members is essential to a successful return to work but can sometimes feel like a huge challenge. There is a range of childcare options available depending on your requirements and your budget, from family member, childminder, nursery, au pair or nanny. Look at all the options available to you, keep an open-mind and tune in to what feels right for you and your family (partner, child and siblings). Find childcare that fits with your budget, any need for flexibility and that feels right – if you are not confident that your child is being properly looked after by your standards, then you are not going to be able to focus on your work.
- Discuss domestic changes
One of the most overlooked areas when preparing to return to work, is dealing with the domestic workload. The chances are that whilst you have been on maternity leave you have picked up additional domestic chores. I’m constantly amazed at how much laundry and cleaning a tiny new human can create. This is an ideal time to discuss with your partner how the domestic burden is going to be shared out between you, or alternative methods for getting things done, such as hiring a cleaner, outsourcing the ironing or getting in a gardener. It’s also worth thinking about having a “good enough” home, rather going for show-house perfection.
- Get a Grip on Guilt
As new mothers we are socially conditioned to feel guilty. Guilty about going back to work, guilty for taking so much time off work, guilty for wanting to meet up with friends without the offspring in tow, etc. After finding good childcare, guilt is the second-most reported problem that working mothers face. As soon as our children “sniff” that we might be feeling guilty about something, such as being left with a childminder for the first time, if may affect their behaviour and the way they view their time with their childcare provider. Be confident about your choices and your reasons for returning to work. In your mind, re-think/re-frame any guilty feelings as less emotional dissatisfactions and see whether this makes a difference to how you feel.
- Do what it takes to thrive
Develop a plan to not only survive your return to work experience, but to positively thrive and become a flourishing family. Find out what is important to you and your family and make sure you spend time every week doing this – whether it be spending special family time together, being productive in your work, having adult-only social time, making time for your hobbies. Learn from other families – what works for them? How do they organise their time to ensure they have time for each other.
Preparing to return to work after maternity leave can feel overwhelming. Ask your family and friends for help or contact us at www.career-mums.co.uk.
Sally Dhillon, Career-Mums www.career-mums.co.uk helping parents to return to work following a career break. We run Relaunch your Career workshops in Leamington, Solihull and Birmingham and personal return to work coaching sessions by Skype.