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7 Tips for Returning to work after Maternity Leave

Written by KATIE SAUNDERS

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Posted on September 13 2023

Parent returning to work - tips on making the transition easier

Most of us will return to work with mixed emotions. Not wanting to leave our little ones' sides but at the same time with a positive feeling about doing something for ourselves again. Here are 7 Tips to make the transition back into work a little easier.

1 - Ask for a staged return.

Maybe you could ask to use your annual leave to work a shorter week for the first month, or reduce your hours on a temporary basis. If this isn’t possible then aim to go back to the office late in the week. Resist the temptation to make your first day back in the office a Monday; a full week back at work makes for a difficult transition.

2 - Prepare Yourself Mentally

Just as those first days with your new baby may have been a challenge, the early days back at the office may also be tough. You may find yourself full of emotions—and that's OK! Try to think about ways to ease this transition for yourself.

3 - Touch base with your boss before your return

Perhaps you’ve maintained contact with your boss and colleagues throughout your mat leave; if not, a quick email or coffee date before returning to work will help you feel included and up to speed. It also sends the message that you are motivated and value your job and creates a chance to discuss expectations about your return from both sides. This can be a nice opportunity to share any schedule changes that may occur as a result of childcare, pumping, or anything else. Agree on a back to work plan with a handover to make sure you are fully aware of what stage every project is at and what is expected of you.

4 - Request flexible working arrangements.

All employees are entitled to request changes to their hours of work, days of work or place of work after they have been with the company for at least 26 weeks. This is called a ‘request for flexible work’. You should make a written application and think carefully about how it would work in your role. Make sure you have considered all of the options available. You could request to only work during term time or less days but more hours a day to make up the time. 

5 - Have a backup child care plan

Figuring out your child care set-up is a must, of course. Test out options ahead of your return date so you, your caregiver and your baby feel more comfortable when it's time to go back to work. You’ll also want to have one or two backups for when your baby gets sick, your child care facility is closed or your babysitter unexpectedly gets stuck in traffic. (Because it’ll happen.)

Family members or friends might be an obvious first choice, but they’re not your only option. Many employers offer backup child care setups, and if your child goes to daycare, her provider can often suggest alternate care plans. Once you’ve got your backups in place, compile a list with their contact information and availability so it’s easy to access.

6 - Get into a routine (and practice it)

Babies and toddlers do best when their days are organised and predictable. If it’s possible and you haven’t already, try to maintain the same routine every morning. This is important for helping your family get into a normal rhythm. Remember, practice makes perfect!

7 - Reach out to others

Just like those newborn days, going back to work is a transitional time where you’ll need to lean into your support circle. Talk with your partner, friends or other working mums about how you’re feeling, especially if you’re sad, guilty or just overwhelmed.

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