Congratulations on your new baby! Enjoy the bonding time during maternity leave and, before it ends, start to think ahead to returning to the workplace, especially if you worry about the transition back. Use the 5 tips below you to help plan your phased return to work after maternity leave without any hassles.
1. Try out your new routine
Before the end of maternity leave, test out the new “business day” routine in your current life. That way, by the time you have to go back officially, you are comfortable with it.
For instance, you can try practicing your new morning routine to identify how much time you need before you leave the house for work. Ideally, plan for at least a few months of transition.
You will need a little time for you and your child to get used to the new routine. You can start by getting a little more organized at home. For instance, start adding pre-prepared meals to the freezer so it’s easy to prepare dinner when you get home.
If you have a partner, reach out to them to help you too – They don’t know what you need until you ask. So ask!
After all, the last thing you want to feel when you’re tired at the end of a long day is pressure to cook a family dinner from scratch. So start now for the best transition.
2. Plan a phased return to work after maternity leave with… A mid-week start
Getting into a 5 day week can feel quite different after spending so many months at home on your maternity leave. Some people might get back into it without any hassles but it’s easier to plan for it now.
If you have relocated to a new home during your maternity leave, you need to start working out the logistics of the commute. Make sure your employer knows about it so you can foresee and plan around any issues that might come up.
You need to ease yourself back into the work week effortlessly. You should make your first day back to work easy, safe and comfortable for everyone involved including your newborn.
3. Organize your contacts and have contingency plans
Yes, if you plan for it, you are less likely to have a hard time going back to work. However, there are days when everything will not work as planned.
In that instance, have a contingency plan in place.
Start by looking into childcare options that work for you before you can start out. That’s because it will be harder to organize when you have already started back in the work environment.
Also, you need to check the policy for taking time off work so that you don’t always have to double-check with your manager. If you are feeling different about working extra hours than before giving birth, be clear about it with management. Make sure they are supportive and flexible about any changes.
4. Try to catch up before going back
If you are able to do so, catch up with your manager, colleagues or anyone else in the office before you go back. That way, you will know the various new processes, faces, social news and anything else relevant before getting back.
By spending some time with your supervisor before going back, you can explain your transition to them. Share any concerns and get to know policy updates or other details that will affect you when you’re back at the desk or another type of workplace.
This meeting is also a good opportunity to talk about your career progression. Where do you see yourself heading career-wise?
If you are kept in the loop, you will be prepared for what happens when you return to the workspace. All of which will help you feel more at ease, especially during the first week back.
When you plan a phased return to work after maternity leave:
5. Assess needs and wants
There are many ways to plan how to go back to work after maternity leave. However, it comes down to what you need as a new parent.
Remember to go easy on yourself. Open up to your team about any struggles you face as a new parent.
Remember, not everyone understands what it means to have a family. When going back to work, you might have a hard time picking up where you left off professionally. There is nothing wrong with that.
You need to be honest with yourself too. For instance, does your childcare plan align with your career goals?
Ask yourself, ‘Is it time for a career change?’
Be realistic about your goals for at home and work and talk honestly with your partner about where you see yourself in the short-term and long-term professionally.
As a new parent, ou may find yourself wanting to change career direction. In that case, you’ll want to update your resume to be at its best.
Try connecting with other parents in the company too. They can likely provide you with advice on how to handle going back to work after parental leave.
It’s especially helpful when you know they’ve been able to transition to their jobs within the same organization. Hearing this can help you feel less alone.
If you find over time that returning to your job before baby isn’t a good fit for you anymore, you might consider a new career post-baby. Giving birth is a life-changing event and it’s best to do what suits you and family, whether that’s working from home now or trying out a new path professionally.
Use the tips above to help you return to work comfortably after maternity leave. If you feel stress about your new work schedule, inform your supervisor immediately.
8 thoughts on “How to plan a phased return to work after maternity leave”
Thanks for the tips. I like these tips.
So glad it’s useful, Joyce!
Great advice, Christy. I found returning to work exceptionally hard. I hated leaving my baby. I took a step back at work and reduced my work hours. It worked because I had an amazing boss who was very supportive of my reduced hours. After he left, it changed and I still really struggle to cope with my job at times, as it intrudes extensively into my evenings and weekends.
It sounds like you had an amazing boss, Rolly. I hope you get to enjoy your weekends more soon xx
I enjoyed reading this article. It really hit me because I have experience this struggle. My daughter is now 2 and some days its still hard leaving her to go to work. After having a kid it makes you re-think every decision you ever made. You see the world differently because nothing else matter but your kid. Once I came back from maternity I changed my hours and job just to accommodate my little one. Children are the biggest blessing.
Thank you for sharing your experiences – and for devoting your focus to your family, that’s beautiful.
Thanks for the tips, definitely gave me some things to consider!
Take care, Lexi!