Returning to work after having a child?

Whether you have been on maternity, paternity, or adoption leave the prospect of going back to work can be rather daunting. Having returned to work first time around after my first daughter I was surprised at how I struggled to adjust with the new routine. 

The second time around I decided not to return to work as such but actually launched my own business instead.  This had some different challenges but I actually found my experience from the first time around helped me greatly both during maternity leave and when I had to enter the next stage of my career.  Although everyone has their own experiences, challenges, concerns and even support/advice from friends and family, I thought I would share some things I think are worth using or being aware of when you have spent time away from the workplace.

  • Confidence:  A lot of mums including myself were nervous about returning to work. They had spent time out of the workplace and felt apprehensive about returning. After speaking to lots of other mums I found out this was perfectly normal. So just to make yourself feel less worried about it, try speaking to other mums you know and ask how they manage(d).  Hopefully they will be able to offer your some support, encouragement, advice and tips.
  • Keeping in Touch Days: I remember thinking the whole concept of a Keeping in Touch Day as a means to see work friends and not something I felt I would have to do if I saw them away from the office.  However, consider using your Keeping in Touch Days as it allows you maintain a degree of familiarity with the workplace, keep up to date with what is going on and actually just prompt your brain to remember about your job. This will hopefully remove some of your concerns when you are returning to work as there will be no surprises. You are also paid for your Keeping in Touch days so the effort will not go unrewarded.
  • Childcare: You will have likely spent a lot of time finding the right nursery or childminder for your child but placing your child into childcare can still leave you a little anxious especially if this is your first child and you are unsure of the structure. If possible try settling your child into their full childcare routine before you start work,  this will allow you to be 100% focused and gives you a few trial days before the mad rush starts where you are trying to get out of the house to avoid traffic and be in work on time.  By the time you start back at work you will know what works and what does not.
  • Organisation: This is key to a calmer morning and getting out the house on time as there is always something to set you off track! Nothing like a dirty nappy as you walk out the door to throw your morning off! The night before look out your child’s clothes, pack their bag and also do the same for yourself. There is nothing worse than being in a frantic panic trying to find socks or iron some work wear in the morning when you are against the clock.
  • Childcare Vouchers: If your work does offer these make sure you get these organised as soon as possible as this will save you money.

I am by no means an expert in returning to work (having only done it twice) and I am sure many of you have an idea of how you are going to do it, how you will handle it and some of you won’t even be thinking about it.  But it is huge shift going back to work and balancing parenthood so I hope my experiences and advice helps you in some way as you transition into the next stage of your career (and life for that matter!).

Good luck!