So it’s finally here! You’re returning to work after the glorious, heady days of maternity leave. OK they were sick covered and sleep deprived but let’s be positive! You may be feeling nervous, emotional and perhaps even a little excited by the lure of a hot brew, adult conversation and being surrounded by people who can take care of their own toilet arrangements. Everything you are feeling is totally normal. I promise you will all be ok and will adapt to your new routine quicker than you think.
7 things to think about
So having been through and surviving the return to work ‘thing’ I’ve jotted down a few points that you may want to think about before you go back. Working parents may also find it useful on the old organisational front too.
- Chances are your body will be a little bit different from when you went on your maternity leave. Growing a baby, squeezing it out and breastfeeding on demand does tend to shift things around a bit. Have a try on of your work clothes or uniform a few weeks before you go back. Do they fit? If not, I would get yourself to Primark and invest in a few new pieces so you feel nice and comfortable. The last thing you want to be worried about is busting a seam on your first day back. Also if you are still breast feeding, tops and underwear that allow for the swelling during the day are a must. As are breast pads. Have an emergency supply in your drawer at all times and be on the watch for rogue pads making an escape bid out the side of your sleeveless top (this happened to me). While I’m on this subject if you need to express at work then have a word with your boss or HR about somewhere you can do this in private ie. not in the toilet with Sally from accounts going whiffy in the cubicle next door.
- If you can afford it, get your hair trimmed or your roots touched up or get your nails done. I know this sounds superficial but do whatever you need to do to feel confident and good about yourself. You’ve just spent the last year of your life keeping a small human alive – a bit of a treat is the least you deserve.
- Obviously you will have sorted your childcare but you will need to have emergency childcare arrangements in place too. One sniff of chicken pox and the whole childcare house of cards could come tumbling down. Nursery and child minder policies vary but often if your child gets ill they will not be allowed to return until they are no longer infectious or are visibly well again. I would advise saving a bit of annual leave for emergency days and having a family member or friend you can call upon in these situations. God knows what happens when they start school and you have to cover their holidays?
- Be prepared. If you can iron your clothes, get nursery clothes out and make your lunch the night before. This saves a massive amount of time in the mornings and will save you running around like a headless chicken and arriving at work a sweaty mess feeling like you’ve done a day’s graft already. I really must listen to my own advice on this one but I’m an idiot and mostly fritter away my evenings on Instagram and Twitter.
- Similarly, if you can, do household jobs in the evenings when your little one is in bed. That way you won’t be faffing around at the weekends or on your precious days off. Put a load of washing on, have a quick dust, pay your bills online – anything that will give you more time with your wee one. Time becomes precious trust me. If I could afford a cleaner I would get one in a heart beat. Meal planning has also helped us save time. I no longer stare blankly at the fridge of an evening pondering what I can whip up with a can of sweet corn, some pickled gherkins and potatoes from the bottom of the basket that have those green sprouty things on.
- Be confident. You have made your decision to return to work be it full time, part time or job share and are doing what is right for your family. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Unfortunately you may have to prepare yourself for the odd eye roll or snippy comment. “Oh you’re leaving now are you?” Your arrangements are nobody’s business but your own. Mentally tell them to shove it and do what you need to do. It says more about their professionalism than yours to make these comments.
- Give yourself time. You won’t get back up to speed on the first day, maybe not even in the first week. Be realistic and give yourself the time to adjust back into working life. It will come (I promise) and before you know it you will feel like you were never away.
So that’s my 7 things to think about. I’m sure there are many more so if you have any tips or advice please leave a comment. If you are returning to work and need a bit of reassurance then just give me a shout. I’ll be here waiting with a big virtual hug and a few wise(ish) words.