by Stephanie Tasker | 5 February 2018
Whether you are a mum who has taken maternity leave or a dad who has taken shared parental leave or an extended unpaid time away, returning to work after becoming a parent can be a time of mixed emotions. You might be nervous, excited or a little bit of both.
It is important to plan your return to work properly, taking the huge changes in your life into account. As a recent returning mum myself I thought I would take this opportunity to outline my top tips for any parent returning to work.
1. Deciding when to go back to work: do not listen to stories about when the best time to return to work is, each person is different. I would advise anyone contemplating their return to think about it carefully and only go when it feels 100 percent right for them.
2. Be super organised: plan your day the night before by packing bags for nursery or your childcare provider and leaving everything you will need by the front door. Get clothes out ready for your baby (along with a backup outfit) a nappy and wipes. Also, get your own clothes ironed, out and ready (along with a backup outfit) and your work bag packed and by the front door. This way you can get up and ready without the stress of looking for things, and those backup outfits are always handy if and when a little accident happens!
3. Give yourself plenty of time: I would advise any new parent returning to work to always leave 30 minutes contingency time in the morning, to ensure you have time to sort out any potential disasters. It is not the most glamorous of topics, but babies can be messy, so ensuring you have enough time to rectify any mishaps will give you more peace of mind.
4. Put yourself at the end of the queue: get your baby ready before you – ensure he/she is fed and clothed as you cannot plan how long this may take. You on the other hand have a greater idea of how much time you need, and have the ability to speed yourself up in order to get out the door on time.
5. Plan plan plan: before you leave the office each day, plan your diary for the following day so you can get on with your most important tasks as soon as you get in to work. Returning parents will often do reduced hours, so making sure you get through your must do items each day is essential.
6. Target yourself: at the end of each week outline some targets you would like to achieve for the following week. Tangible targets will allow you to plan out each day and give you a clear list of what you need to achieve.
7. Leave home at home, and work at work: stay focused when you are in work and leave your personal life at the door of the office. This will probably be the hardest thing to do but it is essential. Remain productive throughout the day and ensure you keep yourself busy and refer back to your plan if you feel yourself getting distracted. Likewise, on an evening, leave your work life behind you and make the most of the time you have got with your family.
8. Get a sleeping aid: use a sleep app on your phone. The one I have been using wakes me up closest to the alarm time that is set. This is to ensure it wakes you up at your optimum awake time in your sleep cycle. The app I use is called Sleep Cycle. This is helpful, especially as sleep is difficult, and it is very difficult to stay motivated in work in you are tired.
9. Do things outside of work that you enjoy: it is important that you make time to do things you enjoy for your sanity and mental health. Enjoy time with your baby, and forget the stresses of the office. In addition, it is important to plan ahead; weekends away, holidays, nights out with your partner, friends and your family are all very precious with a new baby and are all so important to keep you on track and motivated in work.
10. Eat healthily and exercise when possible: time is limited and illnesses are more frequent, so ensure your health is as good as it can be.
It is a difficult balance to achieve success in all aspects of your life, family, work, friends etc. It is so important to plan, be as organised as possible and have a good support network around you to ensure the transition of your return to work is as smooth, and as successful as possible.
If you would like any more advice on how to navigate your return to work feel free to get in touch by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org, alternatively you can check out our candidate resources section for more top tips on finding your next role.