After four months of maternity leave, it’s time to head back to work. Will you be able to adjust to the new schedule? Can you manage the workload on all fronts? Do you feel mentally prepared? With a little planning and the right support, your post-maternity life will be less daunting than it seems!
Review and refresh what you need for work.
Before you are due back at your desk, review the demands of your role and whether it allows for the flexibility you need. Catch up with colleagues to find out if there have been any major changes at work you need to be prepared for.
Be honest with yourself in terms of your priorities and decide if you need to ask for more flexibility or support at work. If you need to explore alternative work arrangements, speak to your supervisor one or months prior to your return in order to discuss possible options.
Remember, there is no right or wrong choice! It takes conscious effort and planning to find what works best for you and your family.
It takes a village to raise a child, so get the childcare support you need.
As a working parent, you need to decide whether you want a full-time nanny, an infant care centre or plan to rely purely on family support to look after your baby.
Whatever you choose, it is important to plan ahead as many childcare arrangements require advance booking as early as the first month of your maternity leave. What you want is that sweet spot between cost, trust (in the caregiver) and a sustainable work-life balance.
Prepare for contingencies! Whether it is a scheduled visit to the paediatrician or a sudden illness that requires immediate medical attention, establish designated responsibilities within the family and always have a clear backup plan and schedule.
Make a fashion statement with your new wardrobe, complete with diaper bag.
Being a mummy does not mean being frumpy. Your body needs time to recover but not being able to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes (yet!) does not mean that you cannot look good in time for work. Treat yourself to a new haircut, a well-deserved massage and a couple of new outfits that show off your best features.
But is it even possible to look fashionable when you have to lug a diaper bag around? Well, why not? Diaper bags these days are available in a vast array of thoughtful designs, materials and even eye-popping colours. Pick one that makes as much of a fashion statement as your favourite pair of shoes!
Always take care of yourself first!
Going back to work will mean a more hectic schedule and longer days. This makes it even more important to look after yourself, so that you can take care of the things you need to.
Build your own support network by connecting with like-minded colleagues who have gone on maternity leave and returned to working life. Learn from their experiences. A little coffee and conversation goes a long way in building relationships that could potentially see you through the best and worst of times at work.
Don’t skip lunch! Make sure that you get the right amount of the right kinds of food to get you through the day. Keep a supply of healthy snacks with you to stave off the hunger pangs in between meals and if you feel like indulging once in a while, go for it.
It takes a while to adjust to the pace and schedule of a full-time working parent, so be patient with yourself and you’ll be rockin’ your post-maternity groove soon enough!