For some, returning to work after having a baby is an exciting time, for others, they’re dreading it. For most, it’s a mixture of emotions. We can’t promise it will be all plain sailing, but if you’re heading back to work soon, we’ve collated our top practical tips to try and make life a little easier.
Before we start, it’s worth remembering to be kind to yourself. Worries about how your little one is going to settle into life without you and whether they’ll be enough hours in the day, on top of getting to grips with returning to your job are all a perfectly natural part of this big transition.
Set out with a positive mindset; see your return to work as a chance to start a new chapter for you and your family. You’ve got an opportunity to re-discover the pre-baby you, so focus on the positives; whether it’s the adult conversations or being able to enjoy a hot cup of tea. Also remember that becoming a parent will have taught you skills that may benefit you in your job, without you even realising!
Reconnect with the workplace
If you’re able to use your ‘Keeping in Touch’ (KIT) days, then this can be a great way to re-connect with your workplace and your role, and they’re paid too! Or, get in touch with your boss or colleagues and arrange to meet for a coffee, that way you can get a handle on what you need to know and what’s been going on (and all the gossip too, of course!).
Do a dry run
In the weeks leading up to your return, have a day where you practice your new routine; get up, get ready and drop your baby off at childcare, then see how long it takes to get to your workplace. You might also find it helpful to start getting used to being apart from your little one for a period of time.
There’s not one solution to suit everyone but many families find it useful to start getting ready the night before; laying out yours and your baby’s clothes, packing their bag for nursery, preparing packed lunches etc. Writing to-do lists, doing your supermarket shop online and batch cook easy mid-week meals are also great time-savers.
There’s nothing like a shopping spree (even if it’s just one new outfit) or a new haircut to boost your confidence. If money’s tight, look at your existing wardrobe and plan out your work outfits. Look good, feel good!
Have a Plan B
You might feel awkward about having to take time off work in the first few weeks if your child is unwell or your childcare lets you down, so think about planning for these occasions with support from your partner, family or by having a backup childcare arrangement in place.
Plan your return date
Look at whether a mid-week return would be an option for you. The prospect of a shorter week initially may seem less daunting, and give you and your baby some time to gradually adjust. Alternatively, you could discuss a phased return with your employer, where you use some holiday for the first few weeks. It’s inevitably going to be an exhausting time.
Speak to other working parents
Build a support network of others who are in the same boat. Whether it’s through online communities, baby groups, or even other work colleagues, sharing your experiences and learning from others who have been through the same experiences can be invaluable.
Finally; ask for help!
Don’t be afraid to enlist family and friends to help you, especially in the first few weeks. Whether it’s just something simple like preparing a meal for when you get home, it can really help take the pressure off until you get used to your new routine.