A HUGE, massive transition: 6 tips for returning to work after maternity leave
No woman - no matter who she is, what she does, how many children she has, or how long she's been off - finds returning to work after maternity leave anything less than challenging.
It’s a huge transition, and along with the changes it brings, it signals the end of a very special era for you and your baby.
So, with the hope of easing your mind and making your life that little bit easier, Claire Flannery of Strength Within has provided HerFamily with her six expert tips.
1) Don’t rush into deciding a return date
While you may have an idea of how long you need off before finishing up, it’s best to wait and see how you feel a few months after your baby is born. Becoming a parent is a seismic change in your life and it’s impossible to know in advance how YOU will feel. For info on entitlements and required notice periods see citizensinformation.ie.
2) Organise your childcare early
Finding childcare can be a little-to-extremely difficult - especially in the likes of Dublin and Cork. Save yourself some grey hairs, do this sooner rather than later. Once sorted, a few short days for your baba in the weeks before will help settle them in.
3) Plan ahead on how you’re going to feed your baby
If you want to continue breastfeeding, rest assured this is very achievable and you don’t need to wean because of work. Babies are amazingly adaptable, and your supply will adapt to meet their changing needs. Get in touch with your local Cuidiu, Friends Of Breastfeeding or LLL branch for reassurance and to help you plan.
If you’re returning to work before your baba is established on solids don’t worry – just make sure to leave enough milk for them. One thing I learnt from my first boy was just how much little kids copy each other... eating and drinking included
4) Link in with work before you return
Keeping in touch with some key contacts in work can be very beneficial while you are on leave. In the weeks before you return, arrange a coffee or call with your boss, work friends, or network to get the lay of the land and reassure yourself that the landscape has not changed as drastically as you might have imagined.
5) Talk to your partner about managing the household
Chances are, you’ve been doing most of the household stuff while you’ve been on leave. While this makes sense when one of you is at home, this isn’t sustainable when you’re both working. Don’t expect your partner to just know this, it’s hard to know what needs to be done when you’re not the person doing it. Take time to sit down in advance and agree how you are going to manage the various tasks and downsize what needs to be done.
6) Remember the ‘you’ in all this…
Be kind to yourself; this is another upheaval and you need to allow yourself time to adjust. Do something nice for yourself every day (however small) and in the evening before bed, thank yourself for this kind gesture. Talk to yourself in the same way you would talk to a good friend. And if things don’t go to plan today, you can always start afresh tomorrow.
And remember – you made it through the transition of having a baby and you will get through this transition back to work – you’ve got this! Good luck.
Claire Flannery is a Dublin-based mother-of-two young sons as well as the founder and owner of Strength Within coaching and consultancy. She is furthermore a qualified business psychologist and gentlebirth instructor with more than a decade of experience working in HR leadership in financial services. Claire runs gentlebirth and return-to-work workshops in Dublin and says she is privileged to work with women and their partners as they make their journey through pregnancy, birth and early parenting.