July 18, 2017


Maternity leave passes so quickly – I remember being so focused on my little one, that I quickly forgot that I used to hold down a responsible job and have a rather full life.  So if you’re maternity leave is approaching the end, or you have had a longer career break, here are 5 top tips for a successful return to work:

#1.    Workout what you want from work

This is an ideal time to review your career and understand what you want.  With changing family circumstances your attitudes to work may have altered and you may find that what you needed, enjoyed and challenged you previously just doesn’t make sense any more.  Ask yourself these questions:

·         Why do I want to return to work?

·         What did I get from doing my job? What do I need from it in the future?

·         Can I continue to work in the same way as before my maternity leave?

·         When is the right time for me to return?

Make the most of your Keeping in Touch days – see them as a trial for being back in your workplace – that’s putting your employer on trial to ensure you are comfortable continuing to work there.  If you need to change anything, say, your hours or work, don’t be afraid to state clearly what you want. 

#2.   Find childcare that cares for your family

Finding childcare that works for you and your family members is essential to a successful return to work but can sometimes feel like a huge challenge.  There is a range of childcare options available depending on your requirements and your budget, from enrolling the help of a family member, childminder, nursery, au pair or nanny.  Look at all the options available to you, keep an open-mind and tune-in to what feels right for you and your family (partner, child and siblings). Find child-care that fits with your budget, any need for flexibility and that feels right – if you are not confident that your child is being properly looked after by your standards, then you are not going to be able to focus on your work.

#3.  Discuss domestic changes

One of the most overlooked areas when preparing to return to work, is dealing with the domestic workload.  The chances are that whilst you have been on maternity leave you have picked up additional domestic chores and I’m constantly amazed at how much laundry and cleaning a tiny human can create.  This is an ideal time to discuss with your partner how the domestic burden is going to be shared out between you, or alternative methods for getting things done, such as hiring a cleaner, outsourcing the ironing or getting in a gardener. It’s also worth thinking about having a “good enough” home, rather going for show-house perfection.

#4.    Get a Grip on Guilt

As mothers, we are socially conditioned to feel guilty. Guilty about going back to work, guilty for taking so much time off work, guilty for wanting to meet up with friends without the offspring in tow, etc.  After finding good child-care, guilt is the second-most reported problem that working mothers face.  As soon as our children “sniff” that we might be feeling guilty about something, such as being left with a child-minder for the first time, they will rise to the occasion and make sure they make the most of it.  Be confident about your choices and your reasons for returning to work.  In your mind, re-think/re-frame any guilty feelings as less emotional dissatisfactions and see whether this makes a difference to how you feel.

#5.   Do what it takes to thrive

Develop a plan to not only survive your return to work experience, but to positively thrive and become a flourishing family.  Find out what is important to you and your family and make sure you spend time every week doing this – whether it be spending special family time together, being productive in your work, having adult-only social time, making time for your hobbies.  Learn from other families – what works for them?  How do they organise their time to ensure they have time for each other. 

Preparing to return to work after maternity leave or a longer career break can feel overwhelming. Ask your family and friends for help

Join our free Facebook group “Career-Mums Club” for daily support and inspiration for helping you juggle work and parenting.

Sally Dhillon, co-founder Career-Mums Partnership – helping parents to return to work following a career break and supporting employers to engage with working parents to improve gender diversity.  Are you about to return to work?  We run regular half-day “Relaunch your Career” workshops in Solihull, Leamington Spa, The Cotswolds and Birmingham and personal return to work coaching sessions by Skype all designed to help you prepare, plan and be inspired for a successful career relaunch. 

This blog was supplied by Sally Dhillon, Co-founder of the Career-Mums Partnership.

Click here to find out more about Career-Mums Partnership

Written by Sally Dhillon, Co-Founder Career-Mums Partnership

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July 18, 2017

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