Paternity leave is a magical time, allowing you to spend precious moments bonding at home with your new arrival. However, adjusting to your ‘new normal’ and returning to work following paternity leave can feel tough. Fortunately, there are ways to help your transition go a little smoother.
Here, the team at The Parents Class has generated our top tips to help you if you’re a dad returning to the workplace following paternity leave.
1. Ease yourself back in
If possible, consider returning to work part-way through the week. Facing a whole five days at work after your time at home can be daunting, not to mention tiring. Starting midway through the week will allow you time to slowly ease back in as you start to adapt to your new work/life balance.
2. Set your boundaries
Clearly communicate your boundaries early on and be direct about how you will be working moving forward. For example, if you can usually be relied on to answer an email at any time of the day, set a new expectation that you’ll be on your emails between set hours. Likewise, if you need to leave by 5pm (or when your working day should finish) prompt, let your employer know and be consistent.
We recognise this might feel difficult at first, so be kind to yourself. Remember, your world has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. It is worth bearing in mind that whilst colleagues might expect you to immediately continue where you left off, it might take a little bit of time to adjust to your new work/life routine.
3. Be clever with your time
If possible – and if your job allows flexible working – then try to be clever with your hours. This may mean working for a couple of hours in the morning before baby wakes up or taking a lunch break when your partner needs to take a shower. If you don’t work from home, ask if there are options for flexible working or condensing your hours.
4. Be honest
No matter how many times people tell you, nothing quite prepares you for the tiredness of those first few weeks and months. Again, whilst being smart with your working hours can help you balance work with sleep deprivation, being open and honest with your colleagues about how you are feeling is also a smart move. It will hopefully remind them there are other (less tired) people they can call on.
If there are any fellow dads in the workplace, then you could consider engaging with them. Speaking to somebody who really appreciates and understands how you are feeling can be a huge help when returning to work following paternity leave.
5. Communication is key
As well as communication with colleagues, clear communication with your partner is also key when returning to work from paternity leave. If you say you’re going to be home at a certain time, do your best to stick to it.
Not only will it maximise the time you get to spend with your family, but your partner will really value your help when you’re back home (not to mention being able to go to the toilet on their own).
Equally, if you think you might be running late, let them know.
6. Energise at work
It may seem like a good idea to skip lunch so you can leave the office earlier, but remember that your body is going to need all the help it can get with the broken nights and busy days. Make sure to stay energised by keeping hydrated at work and eating energy-rich snacks. Taking regular movement breaks will also help. (And failing all that – there’s always coffee!)
7. Go easy
Above all, be gentle with yourself. However much you might feel ready to return to work after paternity leave, it can be overwhelming and exhausting. You may even feel guilty about doing so. Tiredness and emotion, when coupled with working, can feel like a lot to juggle and that’s completely normal. Don’t ignore how you feel but do remind yourself that it should pass, it may just take some time.
Are you an expectant dad?
Find antenatal classes and get prepared for your baby’s arrival.
If you are expecting a baby, then this is your sign to join The Parents Class. That’s right – our antenatal classes are for dads too.
At The Parents Class, our sessions cover all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood. Better still, they give you an opportunity to meet other expectant, like-minded dads in your local area.
Find your nearest The Parents Class course where we can help answer all your questions on paternity leave and more – building your knowledge and confidence ready for your new arrival.