Returning to work after maternity leave can be both exciting and daunting. It is important to acknowledge that your return to work will be a transition over several months. Preparing for this transition mentally, emotionally, and physically over some time helps set yourself up for success.

In this episode, I explore practical tips and insights to help you navigate this significant change with confidence and ease, to help you transition from parental leave back to work as smoothly as possible.

Embrace the Mental Transition

Returning to work is not just a physical shift but a significant mental transition. It’s normal to feel a myriad of emotions, from guilt to anxiety. Understanding that these feelings are part of the process can help you manage them better.

  • Acknowledge Your Emotions: It’s completely natural to feel sad about leaving your child with someone else. Remember, this feeling will lessen over time as you and your child adjust.
  • Identify the Source of Doubt: Moments of doubt are common. Try to pinpoint where these feelings are coming from and address them logically.

Managing Mum Guilt and Mindset

The internal voice in your head may create stories based on societal expectations or past experiences. It’s important to recognize these thoughts and question their validity.

  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: Ask yourself why you feel guilty and examine the evidence. Often, guilt stems from external sources, such as things others have said or societal pressures.
  • Focus on Facts: Remember, your child is in good hands. Trust that their caregivers are capable and that your child will adapt and thrive.

Reflect on Your Why

Before you return to work, take some time to reflect on your motivations and values.

  • Understand Your Motivations: Why are you returning to work? For many, it’s not just about financial needs but also about personal fulfillment and setting a positive example for their children.
  • Set Boundaries: Define what work-life balance looks like for you and your family. Do you want to be home for dinner? Will you work after your child goes to bed? Having clear boundaries helps in maintaining balance.

Have a Plan for Speaking with Your Employer

Your return should be mutually beneficial for both you and your employer. Prepare a plan to discuss your return.

  • Communicate Early: Inform your employer of your return plans as early as possible. This gives them time to prepare and accommodate your needs.
  • Negotiate Flexibility: You are entitled to request flexible working arrangements. Discuss how these arrangements can benefit both you and your employer.
  • Utilize Keeping in Touch Days: These are paid days that can help you re-engage with your role before fully returning.

Address the Mental Load

Discuss the division of household tasks with your partner before you return to work.

  • Share Responsibilities: Ensure that the household duties are fairly divided. It’s important that the workload doesn’t fall solely on you.

Manage the Childcare Transition

Starting childcare is a significant milestone for both you and your child.

  • Gradual Introduction: Typically, children start with shorter sessions and gradually build up to full days. Use this transition period to prepare emotionally.
  • Take Time for Yourself: During these initial childcare sessions, take time for self-reflection. Consider what you enjoyed about your maternity leave and what your concerns are about returning to work.

Utilize Your Support Network

Remember, it takes a village to balance motherhood and a career.

  • Ask for Help: Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. Whether it’s from family, friends, or hired help, seeking support is a strength, not a weakness.
    Involve Your Partner: Allow your partner to take on tasks. They might not do things exactly as you would, but that’s okay.

Ease into Your Return

Don’t expect to jump back into your previous pace immediately.

  • Allow Yourself Time: Give yourself grace and time to adjust. It’s a transition for both you and your child.
  • Find Small Joys: Look for micro-moments of happiness throughout your day. A quick hug from your children or a moment of quiet can make a big difference.

Quick Tips

  • Fill Your Cup: Prioritize self-care, even in small ways.
  • Know You Aren’t Alone: Connect with other working mums for support.
  • Be Open to Learning: Every return-to-work journey is unique, and you will learn and adapt along the way.

Returning to work after maternity leave is a significant life change, but with preparation and support, you can navigate this transition successfully.

Listen to the Working Mumma podcastNavigating your return to work after parental leave‘ on Apple Podcast or Spotify

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