I’ve been pretty busy recently, partly because we went away on our first family holiday (I’ll be writing about that soon) and also because I have been doing some KIT days with work.
In my opinion KIT days are an essential part of returning to work, not least to ensure you have the confidence to hit the ground running when your maternity leave comes to an end.
I’ve written about arranging KIT days before, so check that out. Also a brief reminder of what KIT days actually are… A KIT day is a ‘Keep In Touch’ day. Employees can work up to 10 days during maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave. KIT days are optional, as such your employer cannot insist upon them, nor can you. However I do think they are very useful so do try and push for them. Also keep in mind that you’re not required to work a full day for a KIT day. So far I have done a few shorter meetings and then yesterday I went in for the whole day. This is totally fine as long as you both agree on the timings. KIT days are a valuable way of ensuring that you can keep your foot in with work. You can keep in touch with your team, your colleagues and even your clients (which is just what I did yesterday).
Given KIT days are limited to 10 days and of course dependent on whether you can secure childcare, it is important to make the most of them. Here are my tips to make the most of your KIT days if you are lucky enough to have them:
- Plan your KIT day in advance: Make sure you book meetings in before you return to the office so that your day is orgnaised and runs smoothly. Make sure to book in regular breaks in between each meeting in case something runs on or simply because you know people will grab you in the kitchen. I have to admit I was a little rushed off my feet yesterday and only wish I had scheduled in some more breaks just to chat to people.
- Make sure IT and tech is all set up for you: There is nothing worse than scrabbling around trying to make your PC work the morning you arrive because you haven’t logged on for a while. Little things like this can make all the difference.
- Clear your inbox: If you need to use email whilst you are on your KIT day, be sure to have a clear out in advance of going into the office. Or if you don’t wish to do this in your own time/ you are too busy to do it, then make sure you factor in some time into your day in the morning to wade through the millions of emails you will have received. Better still, be brave and press ‘delete all’. Most of them will most likely be junk anyway!
- Gently does it: If you need to see or speak to clients on your KIT day, remind them that you are on maternity leave and you will need to ease yourself in gently. There is no point in getting in a room with a client and trying to discuss a load of things if you don’t feel up to speed. Ask them to take you through what has been going on and don’t feel afraid to ask questions.
- Get up to speed: Likewise if you are meeting with clients, make sure you have caught up with your colleagues first or spoken to your maternity cover to find out what’s been going on. You don’t want to be taken by surprise if they throw a curveball your way.
- Factor in time for regular coffees and lunch: Sounds silly and perhaps obvious, but enjoy being able to drink a whole cup of coffee without leaving half of it to go cold whilst you attend to baby. Also make the most of having a grown up lunch where you don’t have to hand over half your food to your baby who only likes the food you eat instead of their own. This is your day. This is adult time. So make the most of it. Oh and also enjoy having longer, uninterrupted toilet breaks too!
- Follow up at the end of the day: It’s likely that you’ll only be going in one day at a time, rather than for days on end, so make sure you tie up any lose ends at the end of your work day. Try not to leave anything hanging over you – this will only stress you out until the next time you go in.
- Remember you are still on maternity leave: Whilst it may seem appealing to take on some tasks that may be discussed during meetings or want to finish something you worked on during your KIT day, remember that you are not back to work full time yet. Yesterday there were loads of times I felt like putting my hand up to do something, but I knew it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. Know when to say ‘no’ and when you need to delegate. This is your time to ease yourself back into work, not to take on the world!
I hope the tips above prove helpful to you. KIT days are of course optional, but in my opinion they are a valuable and very effective method to keep in touch with your workplace and ensure your actual return will be easier. Most importantly, KIT days will make you feel more confident, remind you of how good you are, and if nothing else, give you some time to drink a well-earned coffee and take a pee without interruptions. Bliss!