Going back to work after maternity leave can be, well, daunting (to say the least!).
Although you may have been in your workplace for a long time and know your job inside out, you now have a small person to consider and it can be an overwhelming prospect when the end of your maternity leave is looming.
Here, leading career coach Caroline Henry has exclusively put together for MummyPages her top tips to help make the transition that little easier...
1. Don’t go back on a Monday. If possible, start later in the week so that your first few days back at work are closer to the weekend to help ease you in.
2. Start as you mean to go on – leave the office at the time you intend to leave from now on in; staying late on your first few days back will set expectations that you have the capability to be in the office for longer.
3. Have a catch-up meeting with your boss before your first day back, it will help bring you up-to-date with what’s current in your workplace and give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive back at your desk.
4. Plan your meals – find a system that works for you with regards to meals for adults and little ones. Some people find batch cooking at the weekend ensures they have home cooked meals all week, others swear by slow cookers. You may even eat your main meal of the day at the staff canteen and have a sandwich in the evening, especially if your little one has their meals at childcare. Planning this upfront can avoid the stress of having to pick something up on the way home when you are ravenous and little ones are tired and cranky.
5. Practise your new routine – it will take some practise to get the balance right with your new routine. Depending on your childcare arrangements, you may need to test out how long it takes to do the childcare drop-off at that time of the morning. Do as many things as you can the night before, for example, pack the baby’s bag or pack your own bag with snacks/jewellery/phone charger so that you don’t forget the little things in the morning rush.
6. Clothes – your body may have changed since your baby came on the scene so try on your work wear before hand as you may need to pick up a few new items. If your clothes require ironing, figure out a time in your week when you will do this. You may have done your ironing as part of your morning routine in your pre-baby life, but trying to keep small hands away from a hot iron is a stress you can do without in the morning chaos.
7. Sleep – get as much of it as you can! You have lots of plates spinning in your life and sleep is often sacrificed in the pursuit of getting things done. I’m a firm believer in sleep being the key to keeping everything in your life running smoothly as lack of it can make every little thing so much harder. Even if it means your down-time in the evening is shorter, sleep is so important for your own well-being, especially when adjusting into your new routine so make it a priority.
8. Be kind to yourself – like any new challenge, you will encounter hiccups along the way. It’s perfectly OK to feel overwhelmed at the beginning as you all get used to your new ‘normal’. Remind yourself that things will settle down and the first few weeks of anything new take a bit of getting used to. Try to fit in time for yourself doing something you enjoy too, be it exercise, catching up with friends, chilling out in front of the TV or in a hot bath – make sure you fit in time to do something you enjoy as it will often rejuvenate you. Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help from friends/family; you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Strive for excellence not perfection!
Caroline Henry is a leading career coach who is passionate about sharing her knowledge to help others navigate their personal career journeys. She provides career coaching, practise interviews and advice on CVs and cover letters. For more information visit www.carolinehenry.ie