A guest post, by Laura Duggal, a career coach for mums
It can be absolutely terrifying returning to work after a career break or maternity leave. That place you used to saunter into with coffee in hand, ease into your comfy chair and smile at all the faces you knew so well. But now you’ve been away, you feel different. You ARE different. They’ve changed stuff. There are new people. That’s not where you left your stapler!
And what about that little person you dropped off with the childminder this morning? And all of the things you should be doing at home?
It’s okay! There are some really simple things you can do before you return to work to make for a positive, happy and relaxed experience. This is your career, your passion. You’ve made the right choice. We’ve just got a few things to do first:
1. Use your KIT (Keep In Touch Days) to ease back into the routine.
It’s going to be less of a shock to the system if you spend some time in your old environment before you go back to work permanently. Chances are you’ll feel so much better after just a short time of being there, and enjoy it. A lot of my clients loved that feeling of passion and the returning fire in your belly – for a job you really loved. The hours will fly by, trust me.
2. Arrange a time to talk with your line manager about expectations and priorities on your return.
This sounds a bit daunting, right? Don’t worry. But do plan. Make a list of your own expectations and priorities – it’s a two way conversation. You might not want to have the list in front of you but be clear on your thoughts and feelings before going into the meeting. Goodness knows, as a mum – you can keep a lot more information in your head than you used to. You have to!
3. Arrange child care, and if you can, settling in sessions a few weeks before your first day back.
Ask other mums for recommendations about childcare and visit as many nurseries, pre schools and childminders as you can to compare. Each child and each setting is so unique, but your gut feel is normally one to trust. A settling in session or two is the norm to get your child into their own new routine. And from my experience, most mums have told me that they absolutely love it …their children too!
4. Catch up with work mates.
Trust me, they’ve missed you. And they can fill you in on what’s been going on, and make you feel like part of the team again. These guys are going to be so important to your successful return. So, whether it’s coffee, wine or an invite round to yours – reach out to them and start to rebuild your work gang. A listening ear or an arm around you on a wobble day will be a life-saver! You’ll be surprised at how quickly it feels like you’ve never been away!
5. Talk to your partner about how house management will work.
*chokes on coffee* Unless you’re very lucky, your partner may not have given this as much thought as you yet! So, sit down and work through a list of everything that needs to be done – housework, school drop off and collection, cooking responsibilities. Maybe you need some additional help – is there room in the budget for a cleaner maybe? You need to focus at work and worrying about the dishes or the new timetable is not going to help for a smooth transition back to the workplace.
6. Get rid of the guilt and remind yourself of all of the positive reasons your returning.
You’re great at what you do and all of your skills and knowledge will have been missed. You love what you do too. Not as much as you love your children, granted. But it’s a passion, it’s interesting. It’s part of what makes you, you! Like most of us, you’re providing for your family – not just food and clothes, but holidays and fun stuff, which you might not be able to do without your salary. Plus, you’ll get to sit down for more than five minutes, enjoy an actual hot drink and spend time in the car alone!
If you’re about to return to work and would like some hands-on support with things like KIT days and meetings with line managers, as well as working on confidence and guilt (!) then please have think about my 1:1 coaching programme.
Laura is a career coach for mums. Her background is in HR and Recruitment, she has worked within organisations, with individuals and as an associate supporting women through different stages of their careers for almost 15 years. Laura developed the Back to Me programme in response to a growing need she saw for more support for women returning to the workplace after maternity leave. She lives in Cheltenham with her husband and young daughter and works online as well as in person with clients nationally.