Returning from maternity leave can be an especially trying time for new parents. Not only are you being separated from your little one for possibly the first time, but you may also be worried about how to balance your home life and workload. Juggling all of this may feel like a mountain to scale, but we’ve got a few tips to help you nail the transition back to work.
The Flood of Emotions
You’re facing a lot of new challenges when returning to work, and as a result of this, you may feel an unexpected flood of emotions that range from positive to negative. It’s not unusual to feel a combination of nerves, anxiety and guilt about leaving your baby in childcare and whether you can handle the workload still. But you may also feel excited and relieved at having something different to do in your life outside of looking after little ones.
The first and most important thing to understand is that feeling any of these emotions is completely normal. The first few weeks are bound to be tricky, but if you feel that these feelings are getting too much for you to handle, make sure you speak to someone. Keep in close touch with your boss or HR department, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your work life balance.
Part Time or Full Time?
Transitioning back to work from maternity leave can be hard if you immediately go back to work full time. While it’s not an option for every profession or person, if you’re able to do so, use KIT days (keeping in touch days) so you’re more up to date when you return to work and take the transition slowly. If you’re able to work your job part time to start with, this may make life easier for you, but others prefer to return full time straight away. Figure out what works best for you.
Working From Home
Working from home with your little one may sound like a dream combination. And for some people and jobs it works well, but for many, it’s more of a challenge than they think. Being able to go into the office means that you can connect better with your coworkers and it might help you concentrate better on the job at hand. For many of us, being at the office is a welcome break from a busy home life!
If you have the opportunity to work at home some days of the week, this might be the perfect answer for you, allowing you to stay on top of your home life while the rest of the family is away, but also having quiet time to get on with your work in the comfort of your own home.
If you’re nervous about leaving your baby for the first time, finding the perfect childcare solution for you will help to alleviate some of those concerns. There are many options out there, from nurseries and preschools, to childminders and nannies. Some are lucky enough to have friends and family nearby to help out too. It’s important to make sure you ask them all the right questions so that they align with your parenting as best possible to manage the transition away from you.
Support at Work
The best way to go about the transition from maternity leave back to the office is to communicate as best possible with your team. Understand what is expected from you as well as what you can expect from your workplace. This includes flexibility if your childcare is unavailable, if your little one is unwell or you have any appointments.
It’s also important to find out about preparations for expressing at work so you can continue to breastfeed your baby if that’s what you want to do. There should be time and space made available for this as well as a fridge to store your milk. You’ll want to make sure you have all the equipment available and clothing to make this easier.
Whatever your choices about going back to maternity leave, the biggest and most important factor is communication: with your work team, your partner, your childcare and your support network including friends and family.