Returning to Work After Maternity Leave?

Returning to work after maternity

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a challenging time for any mum. Whether it’s your first time, or you’ve done it multiple times it’s always a good idea to prepare yourself for the transition so it can be as easy as possible.

Here are a few things to think about before returning to work after maternity leave.

1. Discuss Your Options

Meet with your manager before you return and come to an agreement about when you’d like to come back. You’ll usually need to give a minimum of 8 weeks notice before you return, but make sure you double check this by reading your company’s HR policies.

Things you might want to discuss:

  • flexible working arrangements
  • what role will you be returning to?
  • have there been any major changes you should be aware of?

You should be aware that in the UK your employment rights are protected by law whilst you’re on leave. If you need more information then you can find details here.

return to work maternity leave

2. Arrange Childcare

Ideally, you should do this at least 6 months before you return if you’re going to be using a childminder or nursery. This gives you plenty of time to visit as many as you can; get an idea of their values, practices and cost. Many childcare providers have long waiting lists, so the earlier you can get this done the better.

If you’ll be relying on family for childcare, then this should also be arranged well in advance. Make sure you’re both on the same page in relation to hours, trips out, meals/snacks, and any forms of reimbursement that might be offered or expected. The last thing you want is a misunderstanding with a family member or friend, as it’s easy for these to escalate quickly.

You should also have a back-up plan in case your child-minder or family member is sick. Figure out what you will do if they are unable to look after your child in this event, and check your company’s procedure if you need to have time off to look after them.

Photo by Vanessa Bucceri on Unsplash

3. Review Your Budget

This is important, as your household finances are probably about to drastically change again! You’ve gone from being paid to living off savings/maternity pay (in whatever way, shape or form) and now you’re looking forward to earning a wage once more! It’s easy to get carried away when you finally see all of that lovely cash in your bank account so if you want to make the most of it, keep a well-balanced budget.

You should factor in:

  • Reduced wages incoming if you’ll be moving to part-time hours
  • How much your childcare will cost
  • Childcare Vouchers or its new scheme, Tax-Free Childcare (If you’re not already signed up to the Childcare Voucher scheme, it’s been replaced by the Tax-Free Childcare scheme).
  • Universal Credit or Tax Credits. Check if you’re eligible, or if you need to amend your details with them. (You don’t want to end up overpaying, or being underpaid).

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return to work
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

4. Do a Trial Run

Not strictly necessary, but if you’re returning to work after having your first baby it can be a bit of a shock now that you have to get a tiny human dressed as well as yourself! You may now have to factor in drop-offs and pick-ups, so it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment. You might also be shocked by rush-hour traffic so it might be wise to check what it’s like in advance.

Check out this post for tips to help on busy mornings!

5. Make The Most of Your Time

I literally feel like I blinked and my maternity leave was over! In total, I had 11 months off for maternity leave, and while I was so ready to return to work I also felt a little sad that my time with my boy was over so quickly. I made a point to limit my digital time, and plan extra family trips out to try and make the most of those last few weeks.

returning to work after maternity
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

6. Focus on You

Make some time for yourself; try to unwind a bit and prepare yourself mentally for going back to work. You may have gotten used to devoting the majority of your time and energy on looking after your baby, and sometimes it’s easy to forget how to look after yourself. If you spend some time to unwind before you go back to work, it will make the whole process a lot less stressful! You could treat yourself to a massage, get your nails done, have a day out with the girls, or even just have a long soak in the bath (with a glass of wine perhaps…)

7. Look Forward to it

It’s OK if you actually start to look forward to returning to work after maternity leave. Why shouldn’t you? You’re going back to a part of your life that you knew (and hopefully enjoyed a little) before you had your little cherub. As a mum, you’re probably used to an overwhelming amount of feelings by now and this is just one of them. So just roll with it…(and it’s also OK to look forward to drinking your coffee while it’s still hot!)

emotions return to work
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

8. Manage Your Emotions

Try not to let yourself become consumed with worry, sadness, guilt or regret that you’re going back.

If you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by these emotions then perhaps you can try to figure out a way to stay at home a bit longer. Explore options of working from home, working fewer hours, or reconfiguring your budget so that you don’t have to return before you’re ready. If you’re not sure that it’s the right time for you to go back, then you need to assess what you can do to change it.

This could even be a future goal you set for yourself; have a look at this post which is all about setting goals!

9. Stay Focused

This is probably easier said than done, especially in the early days! But try to keep your mind focused on the job. Not only will this ensure that you maintain a professional appearance, but it’ll help to ensure that you’re always giving your best.

returning to work after maternity
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

10. Delegate

Don’t try to do it all! Remember to ask for help when you need it. Maybe someone can help out with drop-offs and pick-ups, consider online shopping for groceries and have a routine for chores at home.

11. Remember Why You’re Doing This

Returning to work after maternity leave isn’t a selfish or bad decision, not if you’ve decided if that this is what’s right for you and your family. Personally, I have never envisioned a scenario where I would not be working, as I enjoy my job and love having my own freedom. Whatever your reasons, they are personal to you so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Whether it’s important for your independence, improving your family’s finances, carrying on with your career or to ensure a better financial future you’ve made a great decision!

I hope this list has provided you with some valuable food for thought. As always, let me know your thoughts and if you’ve got any more tips to add to this list then I’d love to hear them. You can email me here, drop a comment below or hit me up on Instagram


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