Five tips for returning to work after maternity leave

Anyone who has been on maternity leave – or any other extended break for work – can attest to the fact that it’s a weird feeling.

It’s like work has frozen in time on the day you left. But, of course, it hasn’t. So it can be weird to return to find that so much has changed. Sometimes, it’s a couple of new faces, others it’s a full restructure or merger.

And when you have been away on maternity leave in particular, you have spent the past however many months absorbed in baby stuff and you may be facing being away from bubs for the first time. Which means the whole return to work thing can be very daunting indeed.

I know, I’ve done it. Twice. And it didn’t get an easier the second time. In fact it was probably harder – mainly due to the stress of leaving two young children, after all, my older one had been used to having me around as well.

Each time, I wished I had done it differently. My breeding days are over – as are my days of working for someone else – but that doesn’t mean I can’t help others learn from my mistakes.

Returning to work after maternity leave can be challenging for any Mum.

So here are my top five tips to make the return to work a little less stressful.

1. Chill: Spend the last part of your leaving relaxing. Catch up with friends, hang with the family, grab the odd afternoon nap. It may be tempting to try and fit everything in before you time is further limited with work. But, trust me, it’s a bad idea. Life gets very hectic as a working mum, so you will appreciate this down time.

2. Stay in touch with work: If you are planning on returning to the same job, it really is worth keeping in touch during your leave. Especially when it comes to chatting to the boss and human resources about expectations on your return and the possibility of flexible working hours. They are more likely to be open to suggestions if they can see how dedicated you are.

3. Childcare transition: Don’t make your first day back the same day as your baby’s first day at childcare – no matter what type of care you have chosen to use. Before returning to work, schedule short visits – a half day here and there, easing in to full days. This will ease the stress of your first day of work and you should be able to concentrate on the task in front of you, without worrying (too much) about bub.

4.  Plan a mid-week return: This gives you – and baby – a nice short week before a weekend to recharge.

5. Schedule a check-in time with childcare staff: Speak to them at drop off and find out when might be a good time to call. Then, when you arrive at work, you can take comfort in knowing it won’t be long before you can find out exactly how bubs is settling in. And drop off can be hard, but if my kids are anything to go by they will be laughing and playing the minute you are out of sight. Also, remember, childcare staff are trained to deal with such things are bottle refusal, separation anxiety and over-stimulation. It’s best to let them do their job, so you can do yours.