Returning to work after your maternity leave can be a daunting yet exciting prospect. It can be a time of mixed emotions and present many aspects to take into consideration.
Alongside your return to work, you may also be worried about how your child is going to settle into the childcare arrangement you have put in place.
Throughout it all, it is essential to remain positive. It is undoubtedly a time of significant change, but you’ve got this!
To help guide you, we have compiled five top tips on how to make the transition back to work as smooth as possible.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
In the first week and even months of being back to work, it is crucial to not overload and put too much pressure on yourself. Your life has significantly changed since you were last in the workplace, so give yourself some time to get back in the swing of things.
Set Clear Boundaries With Your Team
You may decide to do a more gradual return to work, meaning potentially a handful of hours here and there in the beginning. You need to make it clear to your team when you will be available and what work you will be able to complete within your given timeframes. This may be as simple as checking in with your team members as soon as you log on to align your work and schedules.
Recognise Your New Skills
Becoming a parent will result in the development of many skills. This will typically include multi-tasking, time management and problem-solving. It will also mean you have an insight into a different customer group than before, presenting an alternative way of thinking, considering things you would have never thought twice about before.
Build Up Trust With Your Childcare
Leaving your child in the care of someone else for the first time is not an easy thing. Therefore it is essential to build up your trust with them before your return to work. This means you should ideally give a couple of weeks for your child to settle in before your first day back in the office. This is so you can feel more relaxed and confident that your child will be fine, allowing you to concentrate on your work.
Know Your Rights
Once you return to work, you will have a new set of rights. These include the opportunity to ask for flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work, flexi-time or working from home. Employers are required to take your request into consideration and negotiate the best way forward for both of you. For more information on your rights before returning to work, visit our dedicated guide.
Childcare Options When Returning to Work
Finding the right childcare is a crucial factor when returning to work. You must find an option that works for both you and your child, to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Whether you are returning to work full time, working part-time or just picking up a few hours here and there to start with, there will be a childcare option out there suitable for you.
Nurseries are open all year round and provide the social benefit of a large group of children for your child to interact with. The downside is that it is perhaps the least flexible option, with set hours and fees even if your child cannot attend due to illness—however, many parents like the routine and structure it provides for both the child and them.
Childminders present more flexibility than nurseries and provide a home from home environment. Your child still interacts with others, just in a smaller group, possibly resulting in more one to one interaction. The downfalls are that some may only work term time, and if the childminder is unwell, you will have to find alternative childcare.
Nannies can be based from your home, meaning your child’s usual routine can be maintained whilst you are working. Nannies can be live in or live out, with many of those who live-in taking on additional duties such as cooking and cleaning. The only downside is this is an expensive option depending on the requirements and costs you agree to cover.
If you are fortunate enough to have this option, having your family look after your child usually is free and extremely flexible. There is also the benefit of being in your own home or an environment they are familiar with. The only downside being potentially not as much social interaction with other children as nurseries and childminders. However, this is something they can catch up on when they go to preschool.
Whatever your choice, make sure you plan ahead and have some form of routine already in place before you go back to work. You want to make sure your child is settled and happy, so you don’t have to be constantly worrying if they are ok. This way, you can focus and concentrate on your job, completing it to the best of your ability whilst maintaining a work/life balance.
It is common for mothers to want to return to work part-time after maternity leave, and many employers are open to negotiate contract hours with their employees. There are many benefits to working part-time following maternity leave, such as the opportunity to spend more time with your baby, or catch up on rest and sleep. There is no law that gives returning mothers an automatic right to reduced work, part-time or flexi-time hours. This means you must discuss your circumstances and preferences with your employer.
The Equality Act 2010 protects returning mothers against discrimination on the grounds of her pregnancy and maternity leave. Moreover, all employees are protected against automatic unfair dismissal and unfavourable treatment by their employer on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and maternity leave. These rights come under the Employment Act 1996 and the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999.