This article is for mums returning to their job after maternity leave. For help finding and applying for a job, after a significant time out of the workforce, click here.
Here are out top tips for making the transition back to your job after maternity leave as smooth as possible.
Find a Trusted Caregiver
Whether your child is going to be looked after by a relative, nanny,
family day-carer or child care centre, having a caregiver that you
trust is going to make the world of difference to the way you feel
about returning to work. It will also impact your mental functioning
when you are at work.
It is normal to feel anxious about leaving your child, no matter who the caregiver is. However, it is also okay for you to be picky about who this person is! If something doesn't feel right, trust you gut and keep looking. Finding the right place / carer will not only help you and your child relax more quickly into your new routine, but it will eliminate the need to find somewhere else and go through the pain of changing carers and routines if is doesn't work out.
It is also a good idea to try out your carer before you start back at work, and also get into your new routine of easing into care before your big first day back.
Planning ahead will save your sanity. Plan your meals (lunch as
well, not just dinner), plan when you will do your housework and
laundry, plan when you will go to the supermarket. Understanding that
life is going to feel very full will help you get by the first few
weeks - month when you are adjusting to your 'new life'. Just like
bringing home that little bundle of joy signalled a very different life
for you, going back to work is an equally big step.
Do whatever you need to do to help you plan - lists, diaries, reminders...
(set reminders on your phone that the bins need to go out, the laundry
needs to go in the dryer or you need to post a letter - it will help
you feel more in control). And then remember that it will get easier
and you will find your feet.
Talk to Your Partner
When you had your baby, your partner just went back to work. Nothing
much changed for him, until he got home at the end of the day.
He might expect the same will be true for you.
And even if he does seem a little more understanding and caring, he will not
be able to understand the emotional burden that goes along with going
back to work. That is the wiring of a mother, not necessarily a father.
You will need to explain it to him.
You might also need to explain to him that things can't go on as they have - he will need to help out around the house a bit more. This discussion is a really important one to have before you go back to work.
Get Help & Outsource
Be easy on yourself in the first few months and get as much help as
you can. If family or friends as if they can help, say yes! A frozen
meal, a basket of ironing, looking after your child for a few hours on
the weekend so you can catch up on chores or just have some 'me' time.
If you say no, they will probably assume you are in control and won't
If you don't have family or friends who are able to help but have
the financial resources to pay someone, then do that. Get a cleaner.
Hire a gardener (even if you're not the gardener in the family, it will
free up some of your partner's time to help you out with other things).
Eat out once a week. Allow yourself time to adjust, and get help where you need it.
Check-in Before Hand
Whether you have stayed in touch with your workplace / boss or totally disconnected yourself from your job, having a meeting with your boss a week or two before your return is a very good idea.
Knowing what's going on in the workplace and confirming your working hours (if you have negotiated different start / finish times or a part-time arrangement) will make your re-entry into the workforce a lot smoother.
Find Co-Workers Who Have Been There Before
Let's face it, you might need a shoulder to cry on. Or someone who understands that you need to step out for a minute and gather yourself. And having someone at your workplace who has been there before and can offer that shoulder, understanding or even advice and strategies that worked for them will make your day a lot easier to get through.
Seek these people out and ask them for help!
And then, when the day comes, offer to be this person for someone else.
Have a Practice Day
Pick a day to practice your whole morning and evening routine, exactly the way it is going to go down when the real day comes. It's probably best not to do it the day before you go back to work, because if something goes wrong or doesn't work, you will just panic! Give yourself time to do a second practice if you need it.
Make sure everything is the same as it will be when you go back to work - the time you get up, feeding, preparing snacks / lunch, traffic, getting to your office ... everything.
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