How to adjust to your new normal
Returning to work after maternity leave would require you to be transparent with your employer on your needs for a smoother transition. However, many a time, employees don’t voice their concerns as they fear they will be viewed as incompetent. If you're a mom returning to work, Jenny Fulton, Account Director at Resource Solutions, shares her tips on transitioning back to work after a long break.
Going back to work after having children is hard. Whether it's been eight weeks, four months, or six years, expect challenging times ahead. Here are some concrete things you can do to help you adjust to your new normal.
- Prepare for your return to work
Most moms have a lot of emotions about returning to work after having a baby and whatever you feel makes total sense. Leaving your baby that first day will be hard, but you can make the transition easier by doing a trial run. Whatever morning routine you come up with, try it out before your first day back to work. Consider kicking off your childcare arrangement ahead of time. Have your nanny or family member come over for a couple of hours at first and slowly increase the time and frequency as you go along. This enables you to ease into your childcare arrangement, practice the routine to see what works and tweak it, and, then—bonus!—you can have a few hours by yourself to get a haircut or whatever else will help you feel good about entering the world.
- Schedule lunch with your colleagues
Use this as an opportunity to ask if anything significant has changed or what you should focus on in your first few weeks back. In my case, I had switched to a new account when I got back from maternity leave. Meeting my line manager a month before my return prepared me for my role was going to change with the new account.
- Ease back into work
A couple days before you get back to work, you may want to go through your emails to get your head back in the game. Check out your company’s social media profiles to see what you’ve missed. Give yourself some time to get back on a routine.
- Don't put too much pressure on yourself
You will need time to adjust in the first couple of weeks back. You’re generally disconnected before going back to work. You don’t actually know what the situation is until you get there. Try not to take on too much too quickly. Ease yourself in gently; don’t set skyscraping expectations of yourself. You still need to get back into a routine, and you may feel sleep-deprived, so don't expect to hit the ground running as if you never left.
Rejoining the workforce after having children can be intimidating and emotional. You will feel guilty that you are not spending more time with your kids, while you feel excited to interact with adults, and feel nervous about doing your job well. If you need flexibility at work, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Seek out people within the business that you think will be supportive. Be honest about how you’re feeling and what you need to do your job well. It is essential that when you're at work, you can concentrate on your job, and the same goes for when you’re at home; you need to be 100% focused on your family.