Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

When you are returning to work after maternity leave, these helpful tips should help you enjoy the best of both of your worlds — work and home.

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woman in office hallway with bike after returning to work from maternity leave

Remember way back when you were planning for maternity leave? Well the date for your return to work is coming up. Those days planning for maternity leave probably felt like a million years ago. But in a way, it also seems like time flew—way too quickly. Making the transition to returning to work after maternity leave is often difficult for new moms.

Undoubtedly, the end of maternity leave is both an emotional and an overwhelming time for a new mom. It can be hard to get back to work and to maintain a balance. And it can be hard to find the physical and emotional stamina to do both jobs.

We hope that you have made the most of maternity leave. Going back to work after maternity leave may not be easy. Your new life is bound to pose some challenges as you adjust to new rhythms. This article will offer suggestions to help you have an easier transition back to the working world. These helpful tips should help you enjoy the best of both of your worlds.

Meet with your boss

Here’s what to do. In the weeks (or at least days) before your return to the office, schedule a meeting with your boss. Maybe this could be outside of the office, so that people don’t misunderstand and think you’re back at work. If you can’t meet in person, plan to touch base in a video or phone call.

This meeting will help reestablish communication and cover important ground about your return. Even though you’re in a new situation, you want to stay on top of your career goals. You can ask about any organizational changes, projects, and priorities. You can ask to be brought up to speed about any job-related issues.

Additionally, you can ask your boss about any support mechanisms that the company can offer you. You’ll learn who to connect with in your HR department to discuss those kinds of issues. If you’re breastfeeding, inquire where there is a private space at your workplace. This is required by law—and it can’t be a restroom. You’ll want a private place so that you can continue breastfeeding, using a pump. And you’ll want to know this answer before your first week back on the job.

Purchase necessary items

During the last few weeks of maternity leave, it’s a good idea for soon-to-be working parents to go shopping. Stock up on essential items that you’ll need. New mothers who are breastfeeding may need to buy a breast pump and a cooler to use at work. Then, they can continue their milk supply and ensure that the baby has enough breast milk. Other important items to think about include:

  • Clothing for baby to wear if going to daycare
  • Diapers, wipes, creams, and any other essentials
  • Bottles and related supplies
  • Quality nursing bras and nursing pads, if nursing
  • Work clothes (make sure old clothing fits—or just treat yourself!)
  • Quality refillable water bottle for hydration
  • Healthy snacks to keep energy up
  • Photo frame or small photo book to keep at work

Tackling this list before your first day back at work will help you reduce stress. It’ll also keep you on schedule and give you some leeway if you forget anything important. For tired new moms, it can be hard to remember everything!

Plan for childcare

Maybe your co-parent is at home, or a trusted family member or friend is your childcare provider. If not, you’ll want to find a childcare facility where you’re comfortable leaving your child. Ask other parents for suggestions. Start researching this sooner rather than later, so you have time to visit several centers. Then, choose the one that is the best fit for your family. Make sure that the center has availability for your child. Once you choose a daycare provider:

  • Get familiar with their rules and make sure you can abide by them.
  • Learn what your baby will need at daycare.
  • Clarify that the drop off and pickup times work with your schedule.
  • Label your baby’s belongings.

If your baby is going to be at your home or at someone else’s home, write up your child’s schedule. Include any other important details (e.g., favorite blanket, binky, nap times, allergies, etc.).

Finally, always have a backup childcare plan in case any changes occur. Remember, some childcare facilities close for certain federal holidays or, occasionally, for other reasons. Your babysitter may get stuck in traffic or your provider may have an emergency of their own to attend to.

Your employer may have childcare options as well— that’s a good question to ask HR.

Inquire about flexible hours

Many working mothers are not ready to go back to work full-time on their return due date. So, in response to the challenges that working moms face, employers may be happy to offer flexible hours.

Some moms are able to work out a collaborative agreement where they can work remotely for the first weeks. Other new mothers are able to adapt to their new schedule for their new baby. Many women can create a work schedule that better fits with their chosen childcare provider’s schedule. Alternatively, some mothers come back part-time instead of full-time, as they adjust to their new priorities.

Prepare for the unexpected

An important factor to consider, as a working mom, is this: prepare for the unexpected. Going forward, you’ll need to plan for unexpected events. Maybe your child will become ill or your childcare will cancel for the day. Seek support, be proactive, and develop a backup plan. Talk with other moms about how they’ve prepared.

This is a good conversation to have with your boss as you plan for your return date. Discuss ways that you can juggle unplanned events with less disruption for your workplace.

Returning to work after maternity leave

Sure, going back to work after maternity leave will offer some challenges. But you can balance your mental health and physical energy with your professional life. Be sure to take care of yourself. Acknowledge and process your emotions, and find the time to rest when you need it. There are ways to help your baby adjust, and putting them to use will help you adjust, as well. Self-care and self-awareness are key.

Want more help with your career? There are many more tips at the Workest website. where you’ll find more advice suited for working parents.

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