Five Tips for a Successful Return from Maternity Leave
Going back to work after having a baby is a challenge for many a new mother. If she’s not consumed with guilt over leaving her baby all day, she’s worrying about the effect her maternity leave may have had on her career.
There are things you can do to ease the transition and hit the ground running. The following tips will help anyone facing this big challenge.
Secure Excellent Child Care
Get child care you are 100% comfortable with. If you have reservations about your nanny or daycare, you’ll understandably spend all your time at work worrying about your child’s well- being. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right with a particular child care option, don’t use it.
By choosing a child care option that makes you feel secure, in addition to protecting your child’s safety — which is your number one concern — you’ll be freeing up mental space so you can focus when you’re at the office.
Make Sure Everyone Knows You’re Back at Work
While many women are anxious about taking maternity leave for fear of the effect it will have on their careers, most leaves are so brief — only a few months — that once you’re back, your colleagues will forget you were ever gone. But not if they can’t find you once you’ve returned!
While you were away, your projects were likely reassigned, and other people stepped up to fill in for you. When you return, it might feel like there’s nothing for you to do. You might be tempted to slide under the radar so you can head home early to see your little one.
If you’re concerned about your career, however, you should avoid this temptation, and let everyone know you’re back and looking for new projects right away. Once you’ve reintegrated and have a full plate, no one will be thinking about the fact that you were out of the office for three months.
Do Excellent Work…but Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
When you do get your first project, make a point to do an amazing job. By doing stellar work, you’ll remind everyone what an excellent contributor you are, and encourage your boss to throw more great projects your way.
But if you hit a few bumps when you get back to work, don’t worry. Remember the following:
- You don’t have to be perfect.
- You might need some help getting up to speed on your assignments.
- You could find yourself distracted thinking about your baby.
- You’ll probably arrive late a few times.
Whatever happens, give yourself a break, do your best, and trust that — with some genuine effort, and occasional friendly pow-wows with your boss, to be sure everything is getting back on track –your brilliance will shine through.
Get Support from Other Working Parents in Your Office
Some companies have created formal “working parent mentoring programs” where they pair up women returning from maternity leave with women who have already been through the process. Having someone at the office with whom you can discuss any working mother issues — from how to get more work to how to handle last-minute child care crises — can be incredibly helpful.
If your office doesn’t have a formal program, seek out working mom mentors on your own. (You can start with this resource here.) This support network, and many others available, will prove invaluable when you’re having a rough day and you need to talk to someone who understands.
Ditch the Guilt
Speak to any working mother, and she’ll probably tell you that she struggles with guilt over how to balance work and spending time with her child.
While feelings of guilt are inevitable, you don’t have to let the guilt paralyze you. Have a plan for how you will banish guilt — whether it’s taking a short walk, learning to breathe deeply, listening to music, or calling your little one to say hello. However you choose to deal with it, the key is to address it quickly and not waste your whole day feeling guilty.
Returning to work from maternity leave doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. Use these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a seamless transition.11
TAGS: working mother