Going back to work after maternity leave is a time of mixed emotions for many moms.
At Gateway Careers we often are approached by moms asking for advice on how to handle the first weeks at work after so many months (years for some) of not working.
So we’ve decided to write this article with the best tips. If you’re a mom going back to work, this is for you:
- Take your time
When you get back to work resist the tendency to wanting to do too much too soon or prove to everyone that you are the same great professional as before.
Take that kind of pressure off your shoulders and take one day at a time.
Probably there were some changes around the office like people who left, new co-workers, new clients, new work structures, etc. Take your time to understand all these changes first and get back to the work routine.
Tip: Leave your out-of-the-office automatic response on for the first day or two, so you have a chance to re-acquaint yourself with the work.
- Take care of yourself
Even if you have super busy days every day of the week, you still need to take care of yourself.
It might be very tempting to stay on Facebook until late at night but you rather take a nice bath and go to bed early so you have proper rest.
Taking care of yourself should still be at the top of your priorities, that’s how you’ll be able to handle everything on the long run.
Tip: Take some time just for yourself everyday to do something you enjoy, even if it is just a 15 minute coffee break or go for a 20 minute walk.
- Do things during your lunchtime
If you have online access during your lunch time, take advantage to do a lot of things such as paying bills, doing grocery shopping, online banking, buying presents, etc.
You can also take advantage of that free time to do something nice for yourself: a lunch with a friend, a manicure, etc.
Tip: Don’t get a sandwich and sit in front of your computer working during your lunch break. Being a parent means less breaks, so take advantage of the ones you’ve got.
- Get advice from other working moms
Having a support structure with other people that understand what you’re going through is vital, especially if you’re a first-time mom.
You can ask them questions, get valuable tips and tricks and even make new friends.
Tip: Go on online discussion forums for moms or search for groups in your local area.
- Ask for help
Very often returning to work might feel like your first job all over again and it gets you confused. Don’t be afraid of asking for help if you need it.
This may mean getting a new assistant at work, taking an online course to keep up with changes in your sector, or simply ask your manager for help in things you’re struggling.
Tip: Leave your ego aside and be aware that asking for help means you’re a good professional and want to go back to a work routine asap.
- Be social
Make sure you take some time to talk to your old colleagues and get to know the new ones.
Take coffee breaks or go to lunch with them. Is a good way to know all the gossip and the changes that have been taking place at work.
It’s also a good way to feel “a part” of the company again and can actually speed up the process for you, since feeling integrated plays with your energy and motivation levels.
Tip: If you can, take part on company events too such as parties, sports events or just drinks after work.
- Re-evaluate your career
If you’ve been off on ordinary maternity leave (OML), of 26 weeks or less, you are entitled to return to exactly the same job as you left.
If you took additional maternity leave (AML) and stayed off longer than 26 weeks, you should usually be given your old job back.
However, after AML, your employer might say it’s not ‘reasonably practicable’ to give you your old job back, in other words, it’s not possible.
It may be that that job doesn’t exist anymore. In this case, they have to offer you a suitable alternative job with very similar terms and conditions.
You may fall in love with your new job, or not. Or you might even realize that even if your job is the same, it doesn’t suit your anymore.
So you might want to give it some time and to re-evaluate your career and your goals. You might even decide to change company or start your own business.
Tip: Listen to how you feel and what your gut feeling tells you.
If you’re a mom returning to work and need counseling about getting it right, contact us now on 0845 45 900 35 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no obligation, one hour career consultation with a Gateway consultant.