Publication date November 7, 2023
7 Tips for Easing the Transition Back to Work After Maternity Leave
It is normal to feel a bit anxious before returning to work after maternity leave.
Transitioning back to work after maternity leave is challenging.
As you have been out of the flow of the office for months, and are returning as a different person with new priorities and concerns. It’s disturbing and often overwhelming.
So how can you make your first day back to work after maternity leave
as smooth as possible? Is it better to return to work slowly or to jump right in?
How to manage your relationships with your boss and coworkers? Perhaps most importantly, how will you support and spend time with your newborn baby?
You can make the move back to the office a lot easier with a little forethought and preparation. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Be Gentle With Yourself
Before you make this transition from your maternity leave, the first thing you should be aware of is that you will probably be worn out.
You may have spent most of the time taking care of your baby, but now you will also need to get to work on time. So it is important to give yourself time to acclimate and slowly get back into a regular sleep schedule.
If you are conflicted about whether to return to work or stay at home after your maternity leave, you need to know that because you are sad or worried now does not mean you will be forever.
It is an emotional time, so remind yourself that it’s too early “to draw conclusions.”
Don’t ignore your feelings, but bear in mind that, just like the stages of your new child, this too shall pass. “ just don’t be too hard on yourself.”
2. Consider a Schedule
Making the transition back to work after maternity leave will never be so easy, but there are a lot of aspects of it that you can manage and plan for.
For instance, discuss your intended return date with your employer in advance to see what accommodations might be made for a smooth transition.
Can you start with a part-time schedule? Think about scheduling a few of your workdays from home per week to allow you to balance working and spending time with your child.
3. Start with the Basics
Returning from maternity leave often involves executing a new set of complicated logistics. Start with the basics, and do some practice so the first day you go back to work shouldn’t be the first day your baby goes to daycare or stays home with a new nanny.
Do some practice drop-offs or ask your babysitter to start a week early. Aim to get your baby used to the process and spend a few hours without you.
For example, get up in the morning, take a shower, put on your formal office clothes, feed the baby, take her to daycare, and drive to the office.
Then literally turn right back around. If you’re nursing, try to add a pumping session in there as well. Your goal here is to get “a realistic preview” of what to expect.
4. Be Upfront with Your Boss
At some point, you need to have an honest and up-front conversation with your boss about the new priorities of your life as they relate to your job.
Acknowledge that the first few weeks may be not comfortable for you, your emotions may be all over the map, but make it clear to your boss that you are still committed to your job and organization.
Think about what you need from your employer and bring up projects you would like to be considered for so your new situation can work best for you.
Be realistic about what can be accomplished in your first few weeks and months back on the job. Talk to your manager about what’s important and what’s nice to have.
5. Seek Support
Back to work after maternity leave is a time-consuming process. As you make the transitions, seek out support and encouragement from your family and friends.
You can also look for an online support community. Try to connect with people in your neighborhood who also have young children, so you won’t be feeling alone.
Find out if your employer has any specific resources for new parents. Seek advice from your colleagues who’ve been through the maternity leave process.
6. Don’t forget to spend some time with Your Baby
When you are getting back from work, think about how you will spend time with your kids. If you work long hours or travel, you need to have a proper plan for when you will have a rewarding time with your baby.
Also, always keep your child’s caregiver in on your thinking. Whether the baby is going to daycare or staying at home with a nanny, these people are now critical pieces to your professional puzzle.
When you are at work, you can also ask them to send you baby pictures or you can do a quick FaceTime.
7. Organize Your Home
You need to arrange everything at home to balance your responsibilities as a parent and a worker more effectively.
This could include planning meals ahead of time, hiring a babysitter, and calling your daily members to help you in cleaning.
If you can, hire a service to clean your home before you return to work after maternity leave. Your roles and responsibilities can be more difficult now that you are back at work.