Returning to work after maternity leave: what to do and what not to do?
Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting task. After all, you’ve been out of the office for weeks or months in the process and will return to work a different person with new priorities and worries. So even the thought of going back to work can feel uncomfortable and often overwhelming.
So how do you get through your first few weeks in the office? If you have a choice in this matter, is it better to return to work slowly or quickly? How should you manage your relationships with your boss and colleagues? Perhaps most importantly, what can you do to find the emotional support and encouragement you need during this time? We know what questions are on your mind… That’s why the suggestions below may inspire you.
What do experts say about the process of returning to work after maternity leave?
Returning to work after returning home with a baby is “a transition like no other,” says Daisy Wademan Dowling, founder and CEO of Workparent, a consulting firm for working parents and employers. “From your daily schedule to your new responsibilities; from how you see yourself throughout your adult life to your personality; everything changes.” In addition to this pressure, you also go through this transition when dealing with “a little person who hasn’t slept for a very long time.” Experts say it’s a process of “intense physical and psychological adaptation.” So in this process, you may not be ready to leave your child first. Or you may feel guilty about your decision to return to work. It’s all perfectly normal, but just because it’s normal doesn’t make it “less overwhelming.” Returning to work after maternity leave is a real challenge. Therefore, there is no ideal way to do this. Trust that you will get through it the way the experts suggest and know that there is more than one way.
Tips for making it easier to get back to work after giving birth
Here are some tips you can use when returning to work after maternity leave:
1. Be kind to yourself
First of all, in the first 2-3 weeks after returning to work, try not to overload yourself emotionally. Your life has changed dramatically. You may feel tired, frustrated, insecure, and perhaps even conflicted about your decision to return to work. Indeed, many people think about quitting their jobs after coming out of maternity leave. But feeling sad or anxious right now doesn’t mean it will always be that way. It’s just an emotional time. Remind yourself that it’s too early to jump to conclusions. Don’t ignore your feelings, it will pass and so will your child.
2. Consider your study schedule
Getting back to work won’t be easy, but there are many things you can manage and plan for. For example, will you return gradually, working a few days a week, or will you continue to work full-time as you did at the beginning? Of course, not everyone has such an option, but if there is, then it makes sense to consider the pros and cons of each of them.
Whatever route you choose, experts recommend working only 2-3 days during the first week after starting work. Starting in the middle of the week provides a slow transition and eases the conditions for this week, which will no doubt be too long for you.
Returning to work after maternity leave often requires thinking through a new set of complex issues. Identify the risks in advance so that these thoughts do not turn into stress:
- For example, the first day at work should not be the first day your child stays at home with a new nanny. To do this, you can ask your caregiver to start a week earlier. Thus, you accustom the baby to the process and the educator.
- Creating similar conditions can also help you. Get up early in the morning, take a shower, dress for work, feed your baby and go outside as if you were going to the office. Spend time in a cafe, if you are breastfeeding, try to arrange one or two milkings there.
4. Be honest with your boss
This is not your first time working, but at some point you should talk to your boss about the new realities of your life. Recognize that the next few weeks may be difficult, but make it clear that you are still fully committed to your work. Bring up projects you would like to consider, business trips you may or may not want to undertake. Be sincere and realistic about what might happen during the return to work process.
5. Set your boundaries against your peers
If you’re unsure about your schedule, your colleagues may make assumptions. Communication at this point is critical. Be clear about how and when you will study, and make your schedule predictable. For example, if you have to leave the office at 5:00 every day, people know they shouldn’t come to your office at 4:59 pm to talk to you. Of course, things can change at the moment, but you can keep the harmony if you explain to your colleagues what to expect.
6. Know your rights
For example; The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has ruled that employers must comply with the demands of breastfeeding mothers. Please note that similarly in our country you are entitled to breastfeeding or pumping breaks (milk leave in addition to your regular breaks) and you cannot be asked to work extra during this time. 74/7 of the Labor Law No. 4857 in our country. According to the article:
“Workers are allowed a total of one and a half hours to breastfeed their children under the age of one year. The worker himself determines between which hours and for how many divisions this time will be used. This period is considered daily working time.
To learn more about the legal rights of women on parental leave, you can view our related article.
7. Call support
Continuing your professional life is a process and you should not do it alone. You can seek support and encouragement as you make this transition. For example, you can join a mom community or find an online support community. Similarly, you can connect with people around you who have small children.
8. Make the time you spend with your child quality
Think about how you will spend time with your baby when you return to work after maternity leave. Morning or evening? Mostly on weekends? Especially if you work or travel a lot, you should plan when to spend useful time with your child. Whether it’s a guardian or a family member looking after your child, that person is now an important part of your life. For example, would you like him to send you a photo while you are at work? Or will you video chat? Don’t let your emotional connection with your child become secondary when you think about all this.
9. Take care of yourself too
To complete this process in a healthy way, you must not neglect yourself. Find ways to take care of yourself and maintain your physical and mental health whenever possible. Go to bed at the right time. Meet your best friend for a cup of coffee. Exercise, take a short walk during your lunch break. If you have the opportunity to get a massage or talk to a therapist, take it. If raising a child requires extra effort, steps must be taken to support the parent, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Reminders for parents returning to work after giving birth
- Be mindful of your emotional state during the first few weeks after returning to work. Returning to work after maternity leave is a process.
- Make your schedule as predictable as possible and communicate it to your colleagues. However, keep in mind that some adjustments may be required in the process.
- Seek encouragement and encouragement from other parents at work.
Do not do that:
- Don’t make your first day of work the first day your child stays with a new nanny. Be sure to practice first to get used to the conditions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for flexibility if it helps you do your job better. Express what you need.
- Do not think that you will be able to show the same professionalism as before the birth of the child. Instead, think about how you can change your best qualities to match your new life.
Sources: Todaysparent, hbr.org.
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