Going back to work after maternity leave is a time of mixed emotions for many new mums. If leaving your little one wasn’t enough, you’ve also got a head-full of worry about work: have they forgotten me? Will I be able to cope? What if the baby gets sick?
There is no simple solution and a lot will depend on your personal situation. However, much of the stress can be eased by some careful planning that should actually begin before you have given birth.
Get working agreements in writing
As well as keeping a record of all meetings before you go on maternity leave, you should also get any working agreements recorded. This will give you less to worry about when you’re on leave as you can take comfort in knowing that when you do go back, you know exactly what you’ll be expected to do.
Keep in touch
You are entitled to keep-in-touch days so make the most of them. Whilst your employer is expected to make reasonable contact with you during your maternity leave, don’t assume they will be in contact every day. Drop them a line and ask about keep-in-touch days. An ideal way to catch up with what’s been happening at work.
This may sound obvious but the trick is not to leave it until the last minute. You’ll also need to plan and practice your daily routine ahead of the nursery drop and changes to nap-times may be required so that your child is able to wake up, feed and be ready on time to leave.
Have a back-up plan
Ask any parent and they will confirm what you’ve been hearing: as soon as that child starts nursery they will catch some kind of illness! This may make it awkward with your employers if asking for time off so, if possible, try and speak to your partner, friends or family members to see if they can help take the pressure off you should sickness strike.
Speak with other new mums
Sites such as mumsnet.com are an invaluable tool for any new mum where answers to every question you could possibly have could be found. Why not get in touch with all those mums you met at your baby classes? Perhaps have them round for a coffee so you can talk through your worries together.
Meet with your boss
Ask for a meeting at your earliest opportunity to prepare a back-to-work plan that you both agree upon. Set regular review meetings in the diary with them so you can both monitor progress and talk about any concerns or changes that you may be experiencing.
Get some rest!
Planning big nights out is probably not ideal in the first few months of returning to work, neither is it advisable staying up late on Facebook. Put your feet up after a long, hard day and seek help from those closest to you. It’s going to take some time to find your perfect work-home balance so keep calm, take a break and reassure yourself that everything is going to be just fine!