This article is originally published in Circle In.
At Circle In we talk constantly about a successful return to work: what works for us as mums and what doesn’t. From our own experience and from talking to other mums, we’ve worked out lots of tips. We’d like to share a few of the best with you.
We think that there are some really important themes: what helps a successful transition back to work can sometimes be good timing, often it’s good planning and organisation and getting ahead of the curve. But always it’s about staying connected, staying positive and being kind to yourself.
Timing can be important…
- Don’t go back too fast. If you can stagger your return to work it will be a lot more manageable, for example begin with 1 day a week for the first few weeks, building up over a few months to your preferred number of days
- Start childcare early. This will enable you to get into the swing of things: you will be sure your child is happy and that you are both in a comfortable routine by the time you start work. Hopefully, you can get a few of those inevitable childhood illnesses out of the way too.
- Before and during your parental leave, make your intentions known: how involved do you want to be with your workplace? Do you want to have regular catch ups? What communication (how much/how often?) do you want?
- Keep in touch with your peers at work. They will give you a much better insight into how the world has changed than your managers.
- Keep your HR manager involved in the transition process. They’ve seen it all before and most likely have a wealth of knowledge to share with you as well as a team to help.
- Surround yourself with positive and proactive people who have a family and know from experience the decisions you face. Use them, ask their advice, but then make up your own mind on what is best for you and your family
- Coffees with friendly faces. In the weeks leading up to your return to work and in your first weeks back, make time for a few coffee catch ups with some of your work buddies. Having support from understanding friends makes a huge difference in your transition back to work
Home and family…
- Research and invest in good childcare. There is nothing more reassuring than a happy, tired and paint-covered child. If you can’t be there yourself, you want the best alternative available.
- Work out a good plan with your partner to share the domestic duties. It sometimes happens that when you’ve been at home for a while you tend to assume a larger share of the domestic tasks. Going back to work is the perfect time to reassess and realign these responsibilities.
Keep ahead of the curve…
- Stock the freezer. Build up your reserves of simple, nutritious food for your child and family
- Before you go back to work, practise your morning routine a few times. Do a few “dry runs”, including getting clothes out the night before, breakfast routine, drop off, travelling to work etc. It will make the day you go back so much easier.
- Be ready with some family photos. Transitioning back to work can be an emotional time. On your first day back everyone will ask you a million times about your little one: it helps if you’re prepared.
Don’t forget the power of positive thinking…
Be brave. Don’t expect to be perfect. Expect the unexpected. Don’t focus on what went wrong. Keep an open mind and always look for options and flexibility in your planning.
And most of all, don’t lose confidence in yourself. The juggle of motherhood actually enhances your ability to prioritise and get things done efficiently, a great asset for any employer.
Career Money Life offers a wide range of services and resources to help mums prepare for maternity leave and transition smoothly back to work. Contact us to learn more about Parental Leave and Return to Work Programs.