Returning back to work after being on maternity leave is a daunting experience. I fully enjoyed both my maternity leaves and being a stay at home mom for that time, but I was happy to join the world of work again. Despite the fact that I was glad to return to work, it was a whole new set of challenges to navigate.
Having spoken with a few moms, here are 5 practical tips to make integrating back to work easier.
Have a 1:1 with your manager before your official return
It is useful to take a touch point before your return to work, in order to understand how the team and work allocations have evolved in your absence. Schedule a 30 minute coffee catch up a few weeks before your return to check in with your manager and/ or colleagues.
Do a few test runs before you actually return to work
During both my maternity leaves, I actively started spending short amounts of time away from home from about two to three weeks before returning to work and gradually increased this. This allowed my helper and the babies space to bond without me mothering around, and also helped me and the babies get use to being away from each other. And… I got a whole lot of free time to relax and have some me time.
Take a lead role in planning your work life integration
Returning from maternity leave means that your life style has changed. This has a definitive impact on how you manage your time and energy between work and home. If you don’t plan your life and work, it will be planned for you. Be firm with boundaries, and be flexible when you are able to. What works for me is that on a daily basis I have a recurring block out in my diary between 16h00 – 17h00. This helps me to consolidate my last hour at work, and also limits me being pulled into last minute meetings that run over. I am flexible around it of course, but I have had zero issues in the last 3 years of doing this.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Accept that it will be difficult to figure out your new lifestyle with work. You are no longer the person you were before, you now are a mom (or now a mom of two, three, four…). There will be lots and lots of mommy guilt that you may feel around leaving your child, and lots of ‘career guilt’ as you feel you are just not as available anymore. There is no special formula, just figure out what works for you and be intentional about it.
Talk to other moms
We are all in trying to make this thing called ‘motherhood’ work. Motherhood is the most beautiful thing in this world to me, but its also terrifying, and kids can be annoying. I have come to realise that as moms we all face the same challenges, we just need to talk to each other about it. Parenting is not a science, it is about doing the best we can to love and take care of our families.
Last but not least…get rid of the maternity clothes 🙂
Did I miss anything? What made your integration back to work after maternity leave easier?