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17 February 2015

Five tips for returning to work after maternity leave

Handing over a child and returning to work is one of the most difficult moments a mother will experience, even if it is only for a few hours. Spending time without your little one is one thing, returning to work is another – and it can be just as traumatic. Here are five tips to smooth the process.

This guide from Money Advice Service tells you your rights with regards to maternity pay and leave.

If you’re returning to the same role you have the right to the same terms and conditions as when you left, and if your role has disappeared you should be offered a suitable alternative or redundancy pay.

No matter what, you’ll have some choices to make. Part time or full-time work? Childminder, relative or nursery? Return to the same job, or another company? Seek as much advice as you can, and don’t be unrealistic in your expectations, as your life is now altered forever. No time to discuss these changes is too soon, not least for budgeting purposes. Which leads to…

Plan early

The thought of returning to that desk, office, or work premises is unbearable a month or two away, but putting out feelers can’t harm. This can be carried out in multiple ways.

Look on the company’s website or social media, read up on recent stories, check if there’s any new products for sale or new services. Ask a colleague if anyone has left or joined, and gain knowledge of any new routines, practices or programmes behind the scenes. Visiting the boss to discuss things over a coffee is another option, particularly if you have concerns over hours or want to discuss working part time.

In the days running up to the ‘handover’ make sure all the groceries are purchased for packed lunches/meals, and that clothes (and spares) are clean and tidy.

Find childcare that you’re comfortable with

The best piece of advice is to search for childcare earlier than you think. You’ll have read up on nurseries and child minders and gained recommendations on Facebook and various websites. In the end though, only you know the sort of person that fits in well with your child’s behaviour and understands their likes and dislikes, and that means a visit and a face-to-face chat. You may have to see two or three different people to get it right. This Mumsnet piece lists some of the prime considerations.

Of course you’ll tell the carer of your little one’s routine, including times of meals, but as well as looking after the child part of their remit is to make them comfortable with new people. Trust them to get things right.

Be prepared

A cast-iron guarantee from mothers who have been through it all – the day before, either the mum, dad or child will be ill. There will be some kind of disaster, such as the car not working or a bill that needs paying. Most of these things will not be a big deal, but you will be vulnerable so this might be the time for your partner to step in and help.  

Psychological preparation is important for the day itself: You’ll cry. Your child might cry. You won’t want to leave. Your child might not want you to leave. When you do leave, you’ll want to turn the car around and go back. There will be traffic and rushing and breakfasts…it’s all part of the test, which you’re more likely to pass if you know it’s coming. Huffington Post details more things to consider before the morning itself here.

Stay cool

As a bare minimum ask your minder to text a couple of times throughout the day to ‘put your mind at rest’, even though it won’t. You might be able to cope with a call and a quick chat with your little one.

Once at work you won’t be expected to return as if nothing has happened. You’ll have questions on everything from company procedure to new customers to different locations of items. Some companies advise keeping your out-of-office response in place until you’ve been back for a couple of days. You will be fussed over – enjoy it.

Have you got any tips for mums returning to work?

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1 comment

  1. Good tips. Some larger employers also let you do a rehab return to work as well, just as if you had been off long time sick. This is a good way of easing back into things.


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