I’ve been on a maternity break twice now. So I can say I have experienced the ups and the downs which comes with returning to work.
For me leaving my babies is still a daunting thought. But as a mom and a professional, I have to do what I have to do.
People choose to return to work for different reasons and no matter what, no one should feel guilt in doing what is right by your child(ren).
Returning to work can be hard, especially if like me, you took a long maternity break. You will definitely have adopted a new routine and although kids routine can change, nevertheless, you must be used to always be with your child, you would have built a strong bond and letting that go can be a dramatic and drastic change.
For me, the thought of someone else, sort of taking my place and doing my motherly duties doesn’t always sit well with me. But the benefits children can gain in having another carer is tremendous. They learn so much, they have the opportunity to develop more social skills, to make friends and to basically grow up.
Obviously, I came across a few challenges when I returned from work after having my first child. It’s hard because no one can really prepare you for this stage because unless someone highlights it to you, you really don’t know what’s coming and the obstacles you may be faced with.
I was really encouraged to share 7 main ways to prepare for this new stage. I’ve had my second child and I really look forward to returning to work. Preparation is key! So without further ado, here are 7 ways to easily transition from Maternity break to work mode.
1. Set a date
Know when you want to return to work. Notice I said ‘want’, and this is key. You must be ready and willing to return to work. There is nothing worse than not being ready and then having to regret returning to work.
I know this can be tricky because Life is not always straightforward. Some women returning after their work maternity leave period is over, some choose to go back before. No matter how you work it out, make sure you are mental, physically, emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually ready to return to work.
Setting a date helps to visualize your journey and to plan accordingly. It gives you the opportunity to plan non-work related activities before it’s too late.
2. Consider good Childcare
The word alone can make a lot of us parents cringe but planning childcare provision will take a lot of the stress out of returning to work.
Knowing that your child is being taken care of professionally will put your mind at rest. So do your research when choosing and planning childcare. I made a big mistake of leaving this very last minute. Don’t procrastinate the sooner this is done, the better you will feel.
Choosing a nursery/childminder/nanny takes time and also bare in mind it can cost you money. So planning for childcare you must consider what it might cost. So researching ahead of time will save you from a few headaches.
What I also found when choosing childcare is to not allow your lack of resources to cloud your judgement. Because it may cost a lot doesn’t mean you should resort to poor childcare. There is plenty of help available from government and other parents who may have gone before you.
So when in doubt, it’s always best to seek help. Don’t be ashamed to say you don’t know. My sister-in-law is one of my biggest source of help. She has 3 children of her own, she has gone through the system, so she has plenty of experience which I don’t have. So finding yourself another parent friend will save you from poor judgement.
3. Smooth transition
Being a parent is a full-time job, so returning to work is like working a double shift. Yes, that’s what it is my fellow parents. So my candid advice is to take things easy.
I personally chose to reduce my working hours from 40 hours a week down to 20 hours. I didn’t change the hours because I wanted an easy ride, I initially changed it because I couldn’t stand to be away from my kids for that long. But in hindsight, I was glad I didn’t return to a full-time hour because 20 hours alone was pretty hard.
For those who must go back to a full-time position. I would recommend progressively increasing your working hours so you don’t suffer physically. Employers are more flexible than they have ever been, so kindly and mindfully approach your boss with your requests. And do it early, give them time too, so they can adjust things on their part.
4. Prepare your baby/toddler
Children usually adapt better than we think. But it’s not a bad idea to give your child a taste of what the next few weeks/months may look like. I didn’t prepare my first child as much as I would have liked to, so cherish the time you have with them.
If your baby is used to always see you, only playing with you, only having you feed him/ her, always you doing everything for them then a small change may feel huge to them.
The solution is having more diversity and changing things up a little. Take them to the baby/toddler group more often, take them out to see or even stay with family members for a few hours. Let your child get used to mingling with different people, give them a chance to see new faces. Experiencing new environment will give them that confidence boost. Also, visit nurseries and childminder to see what may be right for them.
5. Keep in touch with colleagues and employer
It is always strange when you leave a place for a long time. It is even stranger returning to a familiar place after a long time.
I found it awkward being the ‘newbie’ all over again. Having to reintroduce yourself to everyone else who may not know you.
It was helpful when I first returned to work to have a taster and a catch up with my manager. She helped me with HR and payroll stuff and also keeping me up to date with what I may have missed. I was able to catch up with a bunch of things and to get me ready to hustle again.
I also decided during my second maternity, to keep in touch with colleagues at work, it’s hard enough feeling lonely with a new baby. So alienating yourself is not always the easy route, it can be overwhelming to stay in touch with everyone when you are busy with your kids, but preserving and keeping good relation going will prove helpful in the long run.
Always keep good contact with your employers, even if you’re not sure you will go back to work, definitely don’t burn any bridges you may need a reference or paperwork from them later on. I personally would email my manager now and again to find out a few information. Always keep it professional of course. This will help to build good relations and to make the transition back to work more easily.
6. Plan ahead
As a first time mum, I was so ignorant of how hard this journey would be. But fast-forward to today, I now know to plan everything in advance. And I mean e-v-e-r-y-thing!
Plan for your meals! There is nothing worse than coming home to an empty fridge and no provision for meals. I never cook anything from scratch, unless its a salad or something really easy to put together. All my meals a prepped and cooked in advance. I cook in huge batch guys, it saves time, money and the hassle of cooking every day.
Plan your outfits, your kid’s outfits, your kid’s bags, your shopping, your outings, your doctor appointments, your beauty treats, your laundry, your travel route, your spending… And so on. I am sure you get the point, never leave anything to the last minute, it will cause unnecessary stress, which is totally not worth it.
Have a strategy, have a tried and tested method of planning. You can use lists, diaries, reminders, fridge notes. Find out what works for you.
7. Take good care of yourself
Your welfare is paramount. If you don’t feel your best you can’t give your best. So always make time to rest, eat well and simply replenish yourself.
Returning to work can be daunting in many ways if you aren’t happy about yourself in any way, it is important you address those issues sooner rather than later. always seek professional help.
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