Start preparing for your return before you go;
Many women are so (understandably) distracted at the thought of their new baby and also exhausted by the time they go off on Maternity leave, that they do not plan for their return to work. It’s easy to think ‘I will worry about that when I get back’ but in my experience, women who have found returning easier, have been the ones who have planned in advance.
Preparation could include being involved in hiring the person who will ‘cover’ your role and even doing a handover with them to ensure that you have peace of mind that your role will be competently covered in your absence. This will lower your stress levels during your leave and ensure you feel less insecure when you return.
Use the Keeping in Touch Days which you are entitled to;
I have found women do not always use the Keeping In Touch Days which they are legally entitled to take and be paid for, during Maternity Leave. Women often think it is the responsibility of the Manager/Company to contact them about using them and the Manager/Company will often not want to bother the woman when she is on leave or will think she should tell them when she wants to use them.
If there is a special work event, a new employee joins or there is a a new product launch, these could be good examples of days when you could go into work. By doing so, and also potentially even asking for your manager to use a couple of the days to just update you over the phone/via Skype on what has been happening in your absence, you will not feel so nervous and out of your depth when you return to work. Additionally the working environment (instead of the usual nursery or playroom!) will not feel quite so foreign to you!
Think about Childcare well in advance;
Women often leave thinking about childcare arrangements until the last minute and then rush to find something, before they return. Leaving your precious baby for the first time will be difficult enough, without having to worry if they will like the new nursery, nanny or childminder! Ensure you start thinking about childcare at least 4 months before you return. Have trial sessions with any nannies or nursery groups. Leave your child for a day, or at least a morning and see how they (and you) cope! This will make your first day back at work much easier and perhaps a little less tear filled!
Most importantly empower yourself;
All of the above tips are about empowering yourself! This is the key to a smooth transition back into the workplace. Don’t leave things to chance, but take control!
Remember from April 2015 the law changes and Fathers are entitled to 26 weeks paid Paternity Leave, if the Mother returns to work. It will be interesting to see how many Fathers take this up and how this may affect the future dynamics of family life! ‘Paternity Coaching’ could be the next big thing!