Whether you have been on maternity leave for weeks or months, the return to work can be difficult and emotional for a lot of moms. In the weeks before returning to work, here are some things you can do to make the transition easier for yourself and your family, whether returning to your old role or beginning a new chapter in your career.
Finalize your childcare plans. Depending on whether you are sending your child to daycare or hiring a nanny, you should have your childcare arrangements in place at least 2 weeks before returning to work. I highly recommend having some type of transition period before returning. We had our nanny start 2 weeks before I went back, and it made me feel much more comfortable seeing her interact with our daughter. It will also help you get used to being away from your child in small doses!
Catch up with your manager and HR. If you haven’t been in regular contact with your manager while on leave, now is a great time to set that up. It is a great opportunity to get up to date with any changes to the business so that you know what you are returning to. It may also be the case that you are coming back to a different position within the organization. This will help make sure everyone has the same expectations, as well as giving you the opportunity to raise any flexible working options you have been contemplating.
Think about flexible working options. If your organization has a flexible working policy, it is worth familiarizing yourself with it. If one doesn’t exist – take heart, that does not mean they won’t be open to it! More and more companies are offering this to women and men, to help with all kinds of work-life balance. There are many different ways you can do this – working from home one day, leaving early and working from home in the evenings or vice versa, coming in late and leaving later etc. It’s hard to know exactly what will work for you before you return to work, and your needs will probably change over time – mine certainly have. However, it is useful to start thinking about this and having the conversation with your manager so that you are both are aware of each other’s thoughts on this issue.
Reach out to your support network. It’s likely there are other women in your mom’s group that are also going through this or have recently been through it. Reach out to them! If you have friends at work, particularly other working parents who can relate to this situation — email them! Some of my closest friends now are other moms at work, and being able to message them when I am having a hard day is a godsend. Soon, you can return the favor to other women returning to work by mentoring them through the transition and sharing helpful tips.
Take care of yourself. This transition is really hard, and in all honesty, will probably take some time to adjust to. Please try and go easy on yourself while you ease into your new routine, and even though your new schedule is likely to be very busy, take some time for yourself. Have a bath, meditate, go to the gym or relax on the couch after your little one is asleep — whatever it is you like to do for yourself.