By Miranda Gregory
Well this is it – you’ve got a beautiful new human in your life that is now your world. You’ve suffered the sleepless nights, the nappy changes and the constant feeding. You’ve worried whether you’re doing the right thing and have cried over spilt milk…literally! But now it’s time to turn your mind to returning to work and suddenly it’s another thing to worry about! How will you all cope with a new routine, will baby adjust to different childcare and much more!
Yes, it’s going to be different and yes it might be a challenge initially, but you will absolutely, positively adapt! To help, have a look at my top tips to help ease you through the journey
1) Don’t forget you!
It’s one of those bizarre things that when we go on leave, our self-confidence starts to drop. We’ve seen it time and again that confident, successful people, particularly women, start to doubt that they can even do their job. So this is why it’s so important to take some time to focus on you! Set aside some time and write a list of everything you have achieved in your career so far – it doesn’t have to be huge, small wins matter! Have a think about the good things that have been said about you at your appraisals – have people commented on your organisational skills, or your interpersonal skills? Is there a client that keeps returning because of you? Keep this list and refer back to it whenever you have a wobble. You have achieved so much that there’s no reason why you can’t achieve the same and more!
2) Keep in touch with work
You may not want to do this initially, but as the time gets closer for you to return, it’s a good idea to check in with colleagues. Perhaps go for lunch, with or without baby, and make sure you talk about work. Use the jargon again, ask after clients, check on project status updates. This is another tool to boost your self-confidence and remind yourself who you were pre-baby. You’ll realise that you remember far more than you realise, it’s just got pushed behind thinking about naptimes and weaning!
3) Use your Keep In Touch (KIT) days
These are a great way to ease yourself into returning to work! Employees may go in and work up to 10 days during their maternity/paternity/adoption leave. BUT, they are optional and both the employee and employer need to agree to them. To make the most of your KIT days, plan in advance so the most relevant and useful people know that you will be going in, make sure you’ll be able to access the IT system and agree in advance as to what will be expected of you on the day.
4) Have your childcare arrangements sussed
This may sound like an obvious one…but we’ve come across people who have told us that they’re just going to wing it! Make life easier for yourself and have a solid plan in place. The last thing you want is to be stressing as about settling your little one at nursery or for your childminder to be on holiday.
5) Plan and practise
Have practise attempts at your new routine. You may like to use on of your KIT days for this. What time do you have to get up to make sure everyone is ready to leave? What time do you
need to be at the childminder to ensure you make it to work through rush-hour traffic? Try to get everything ready the night before – the less you have to do in mornings the better!
6) Be kind to yourself
Either do some batch cooking or get in some type of ready meal for your first week. The last thing you’re going to want to feel like doing is cooking a meal from scratch. Make life as easy as possible for yourself. Make a date with your best friend to meet for a glass of wine after your first week back. Have something to look forward to.
7) Set expectations
In all likelihood, and not to beat around the bush, it’s not going to be easy returning to work. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to hit the ground running on day 1 and slip into work as though you’ve never been away. It’s not going to be like that – so accept that! Accept the fact that there’s going to be an adjustment and everyone in your family is going to be affected by it. Once you accept that life is going to be different for a while until you all adapt to the new routine (which you all absolutely will!) then it becomes easier to deal with the change. When you give yourself realistic expectations and achievable goals, then you yourself are going to be much happier and much more comfortable about being back at work.
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