According to research from Maternity Action , new mothers in the UK take an average of 39 weeks of maternity leave. After almost nine months at home with your newborn, it’s understandable if the transition back to work may seem daunting.
There are no hard and fast rules about when you should return to work or even how you should feel about returning to work. What’s important is that you do what feels right for you and your family. Some mothers may be itching to get back to work, while others may feel emotional about it – either way, here are some helpful ways to make the transition that bit easier.
1. Start early conversations with your employer
Consider speaking to your employer a few weeks before you are due back to work so you can discuss expectations and boundaries. Informing your employer in advance of any changes you may want – or need – will help avoid conflicts between your parental and work responsibilities, while also enhancing your work-life balance.
2. Consider a phased return
Speak to your employer about the possibility of a phased return to work. For example, you could use your accrued annual leave to work shorter days or weeks for the first month or two. You may even be able to temporarily reduce your hours to help you adjust and ease back into working life.
3. Get organised
In the weeks leading up to the end of your maternity leave make sure you have made all the preparations you need to feel organised and ready for returning to work. This could include arranging childcare, creating a list of emergency contacts or putting a plan in place for expressing milk.
It may also be helpful to create a schedule for you and your baby that includes a checklist of everything you need to do before you leave for work to help you stay organised. This can help you remember to pack essential items for the baby when at childcare such as nappies or a change of clothes.
4. Make time for yourself
This is an important one. When you have so much to think about, it can be easy to forget about taking the time to take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, that you are eating well and that you take time for self-care. Looking after yourself can help you better deal with stress and can help you feel more confident and focused at work.
5. Create a support network
Before returning to work, it might help to ensure you have a network of friends and family that you can rely on for support or just as an ear to listen to you. Talking about how you feel about returning to work can help you manage any worries you may have. Speaking to other mothers who have already made the transition and hearing about their experiences might also be really useful.
If you joined The Parents Class when you were pregnant, then consider reaching out to some of the other expectant parents on your course. The chances are, you’ll all be returning to work around the same time, so might be able to support each other as you approach this new milestone.
As well as reaching out to those you met on your antenatal course, remember there’s also the opportunity to join our free online community. Our Community allows you to connect with other mums going through the same experiences and gain access to invaluable resources from both experts and parents.
These are just some of the ways to make the transition back to work easier.