It was 7.33am on a bitter January morning and it was pitch black. There I was standing knee deep in snow in the nursery car park on my first day back at work after a year off on maternity leave whilst two helpful Dads frantically tried to push my struggling car out of the massive snow drift I’d managed to park in. My youngest was safely deposited in the colourful warmth of the baby room in the nursery that my eldest had also attended since she was six months old. Which was a very good thing given I was not acting in an appropriate parental role model capacity as I gesticulated wildly and ranted at the nursery manager that she should have ensured the car park was safe and clear of snow in advance of parents dropping off their little ones before the working day. It wasn’t my finest moment.
It was however, my first day back at work after a year long period of maternity leave, and I was unaccustomed to wearing heels (yes in the snow) and engaging with anyone who could hold a proper conversation rather than one punctuated with “dah, bah and ta.” Day one back in the office doesn’t therefore rank highly for me as ‘one of the best.’
If you’ve decided to return to work following maternity leave, agreed your working pattern, and the time to return is edging ever closer, check out these top tips for ensuring a smooth and stress free return to work.
1. Ensure you are completely happy with your childcare arrangements. It makes good sense to trial run your childcare plans before your first day back in the workplace. Perhaps arrange settling in sessions a few weeks before your first day back. This gives time for any teething issues to bed down before you make the transition back to work and knowing your little one is settled and happy with their new day care arrangements is one less thing to worry about.
2. Investigate whether you can phase back in. Some companies offer maternity leave returners the opportunity to phase back into the working world. Starting off with just a few hours a day for a week or so, or half days for a fortnight can make a big difference in ensuring a smooth transition back into the workplace. Talk to your boss about possible opportunities to do this, you may be pleasantly surprised.
3. Use your lunch break to do something for you. If you’ve been used to grabbing lunch on the hoof, or reheating your soup in the microwave three times before you eventually get to sit down and eat, then the humble ‘lunch break’ becomes an opportunity to grab a slice of ‘you’ time in an otherwise busy day. Go for a stroll, read a book or arrange to meet a friend. Having something in the middle of the day that’s just for you can make the thought of being back at work more bearable.
4. Know how you are getting to work! Check buses / train timetables, it may sound obvious, but you’ve been out of the swing of commuting for some time and things may have changed. The last thing you need is a stressful start to day one when you realise you’re already going to be late since its 40 minutes until the next bus arrives.
Guest post by Julie-Ann Murphy of www.supermummy.co.uk