5 Tips To Help You Have A Smooth Return To Work Post Maternity Leave

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Returning to Work Post Baby: An Emotional Minefield?

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a bit of a juggling act

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a bit of a juggling act

Returning to work after maternity leave is an emotional minefield. It starts with guilt over the decision to leave your baby to return to work, sometimes out of financial necessity, and sometimes because you miss working and need to work to feel happy, valuable, and fulfilled.

For the record, your happiness is just as necessary as your income. Wanting to work doesn’t make you a bad mum.

After the guilt comes the stress of navigating the childcare system, followed by apprehension about how you’re going to juggle work duties with family responsibilities. As your return date looms closer, self-doubt starts to creeps in and you question whether you’ve still got what it takes to be competitive in the workplace. Like I said, it’s an emotional minefield. It’s no wonder 6 in 10 mums find returning to work a challenge.

Here are 5 tips to help you have a smooth transition back to work post-maternity leave.

Tip #1: Talk To Your Boss

Set up a meeting with your boss prior to your return date so you can speak to him/her about your schedule and responsibilities. If you worked 12 hour days pre-baby there’s a good chance you won’t be able to or won’t want to replicate these hours when you return to work. Having an open conversation with your boss and problem solving this before your return can reduce your stress.

Tip #2: Find Child Care + Have a Backup Plan

Child care waiting lists can be long so start looking sooner rather than later. Ask other parents about their experiences with different child care centers and set up meetings with child care directors so you can make an informed decision. If you can’t find appropriate child care consider alternative options like asking a friend or family member to look after your child or hiring (or sharing) a nanny. Regardless of which childcare option you choose, have a backup plan for what you’ll do if your childcare arrangements fall through due to extenuating circumstances like illness.

Tip #3: Modify Your Expectations

Returning to work after having a baby is a big adjustment. The workplace can be a fast changing environment so if you’ve had a few months off you might return to new colleagues, new teams, and new projects. Cut yourself some slack and don’t expect to have found your feet by the end of your first week back. Allow yourself at least a few months to get back into the swing of things.

When it comes to balancing your work and home life, aim for good enough rather than perfection. Be realistic about the fact that you’ll have less time for home tasks and be prepared to bump a few lower priority tasks off your to-do list.

Tip #4: Outsource Your To-Do List

Shortening your to-do list at home will help you to feel less stressed. Look at what needs to get done each week and speak to your partner to see if they can take on a few extra responsibilities at home. You might also consider getting a cleaner once a fortnight, using your local dry cleaner more, or buying your groceries online. Anything you can do to lighten your load is a good thing.

Tip #5: Look After Yourself

Whether its grocery shopping, cleaning, ironing, cooking, or emails there will always be a reason not to sit down and have some time for yourself. Resist the urge to power through your to-do list and make time for yourself a priority.

Relax in a bubble bath, go out for dinner with friends, go to a yoga class, curl up in bed with your favourite book, and make sure you get to bed early at least a few nights each week. Mums always find it hard to put themselves first, but time for you is a necessity not a luxury.

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.


 

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