Opinion

7 steps to a successful return after maternity leave

So you have a new addition to your family. That’s fantastic news! But after spending the last few months settling into parenthood, your mind may now be turning to going back to work. 
If returning to your job is something you’re excited about, well that’s great. But we wouldn’t blame you if you’re also feeling a little nervous about how you’re going to handle the change in lifestyle. 
 
Becoming a mum is a huge responsibility, so the thought of adding another plate to the ones you’re already spinning may well be daunting! It’s completely natural to question your ability to manage motherhood while being a good employee. And it’s also normal to feel a little doubtful about going to work when your child is still young.
 
So if you’re a ‘returnee’, read through our advice about stepping back into the world of work. We hope it’ll help make the process less worrying.
 
1.Talk to your employer early
Set a return date well in advance so everyone knows when you’re expected back and you can start planning child care. Why not go in for meetings to reintegrate into work? At Pure, we have ‘Keeping in Touch Days’ so ladies coming back from maternity leave start to integrate back into the business gradually with support of a mentor. Think about scheduling time with the person covering your job, and read meeting minutes and key emails. This should help reduce the pressure since you’ll already be up to speed.
 
2.Set up reviews
When you return set up regular meetings with your line manager to track your progress. You can discuss any concerns and, at a later date, find solutions to obstacles that may be blocking your career development. Also, after you’ve settled into work, review your own goals. Have your ambitions changed? If so, what can you do about finding a new direction? 
 
3.Arrange reliable child care 
Child care can be a source of concern for working parents. But, besides professional child care services, your relatives may also be willing to help out. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan in case your usual arrangement falls through. This will give you peace of mind; you’ll know that there will always be someone available to take care of your child so you can focus at work.
4.Have faith in your skills
Trusting in your ability to juggle tasks effectively is important to your success. If you’re going back to your existing role, be it on a full-time or part-time basis, remember that you’re good at what you do. You may be feeling more tired these days, but you probably haven’t lost the skills that your employer really values. Be confident - you’ll do a fabulous job!
 
5.Negotiate flexibility 
It may help easing yourself gently back in your job. How about using any accrued annual leave to ‘buffer’ your return? You could perhaps start on two days and gradually increase your time over the coming weeks. Maybe your employer is open to flexible hours, so you can work around child care, school and other responsibilities.
 
6.Look after yourself
The wellbeing of a mum is essential to the health of a young child. And this shouldn’t change when you return to work. Although you’re going to be very busy, finding some time to look after your mental, emotional and physical health is important. When possible, get a good night’s sleep. Don’t be tempted to snack on fast food or sugary snacks. And try to fit in some exercise – even if it’s a lunchtime speed walk around the local park.
 
7.Get organised
If you’ve never been a big diary-keeper, now might be the ideal time to start! Making daily to-do lists will help you manage tasks. And by adding appointments as soon as they’re arranged, you should be able to keep track of which family members are doing what – and when. So, hopefully, there’ll be no surprises that’ll hinder your return to work.
 
Although returning to work is going to be a challenge, we really hope that our advice will support you in making that transition from full-time mum to working parent.