Is your maternity leave coming to an end?
Today Amy from family blog No More Shoulds shares with us her top ‘5 Ways To Ease The Return To Work After Maternity Leave‘:
That’s it. You’ve had this amazing time off with your baby. Now what? If you’re returning to work, the transition from nursery to office can be an emotional time and it can take some time to get back in the swing of things. For all kinds of reasons, it can be a time wracked with guilt and self-esteem issues.
Here are 5 tips to make the transition back to the workplace a little easier on the soul.
1. Acknowledge that change is uncomfortable – and that’s ok
Human beings are creatures of habit. We don’t like change because it makes us feel unsafe. When we feel unsafe, our guard goes up and we do everything in our power to make ourselves feel safe again.
We’re natural fixers. Leaving your baby and going back into the workplace is one of the biggest shifts in routine and mindset you can experience, so it’s no surprise it can leave us feeling a little wobbly.
If it doesn’t feel right straight away, we either get unhappy or we start to look for an alternative solution, and fast. The tricky thing is, the real solution lies in time.
An academic study in 2010 found that the research participants had more confidence in ideas that had been around for a long time and were well-established, as opposed to being established recently. Therefore, it’s no wonder we have less tolerance at first for a new situation or lifestyle, particularly when the previous one was such a monumental experience.
By acknowledging that it is a change in our routine (a very emotional one), and change is naturally uncomfortable, it makes it easier to expect things to be a bit rocky for the first few weeks back, gives us the patience to wait it out and avoids any impulsive letters of resignation.
2. Plan some you-time in at least one lunch break
One of the brilliant advantages to going back to work is that you are able to go to the toilet on your own, without a toddler sitting on your lap. You can simply get up and walk out of the building with 30 seconds notice, should you so choose. And most excitingly, you get a lunch break! Whilst it may be tempting to stay at your desk to finish off those last emails, try making the most of the alone time to do something just for you. I love hiding away in a coffee shop one lunchtime a week and reading or writing on my laptop. What would YOU do?
3. Go easy on yourself – scientists believe you’ve got this
You have been out of work for a good few months and, in the meantime, you’ve grown and raised another human being. That’s a pretty massive piece of life experience for the CV. So understandably, you won’t immediately remember every intricacy of your job when you return to work. This is ok.
Honestly. It will trickle back in time. Actually, whilst there is some scientific backing of the concept of ‘baby brain’, it has also been recognised that mothers do actually become naturally more efficient after birth, to allow them to care for a newborn as well as do everything they have before. I mean, let’s think about that a bit: the amount of resource planning and strategic prioritisation that goes into getting yourself and a baby fed, dressed and out of the door every day could rival that of the CEO of Google. So, relax a little. You’ve got this. Nature says so.
4. Remind yourself it’s ok to miss your baby
You are not deserting the feminist cause if you miss your baby and secretly dream of more days stretched ahead of you covered in porridge, dribble and felt tip pen. You’re simply human. You love your baby. Your baby is most likely awesome. Of COURSE you miss them. Accept that this is ok – it doesn’t make you worse at your job. I can guarantee that most of your colleagues around you who are parents will have moments of yearning too, even if they seem like super-power-crazy-driven career machines.
5. Remind yourself it’s ok not to miss your baby
You are also not deserting your maternal instinct if you get to the end of a day and realise you haven’t thought about your child once. You’re not a cold-hearted monster. You are human. Work is all-consuming, it can be academically and cognitively challenging, and sometimes it can be just the break you need to think about something other than whether we’re going on the Pinky-Ponk or the Ninky-Nonk for a change. It certainly does not mean you love your child any less. Enjoy the headspace, relish exercising a different bit of your brain, and then go home for a massive cuddle.
So you go, mama. You’ve GOT this. Be kind to yourself, go forth, and nail it.
ABOUT Amy Malloy and No More Shoulds
Amy is a mum on a mission for healthier, kinder minds for mums. In 2013, amid the strains of juggling family illness, a stressful publishing job and fertility battles, she found solace in mindfulness and meditation, and never looked back. Until she had a baby, that is. When she was eventually able to start a family, she was taken aback by the onslaught of maternal guilt and unsolicited advice. All she could do was watch meekly from the sofa as the healthier mindset she had developed flew out the window. She recovered her marbles and ever since has been on a mission to support new parents and parents-to-be in navigating the brave new world of parenthood. Join the mission at www.nomoreshoulds.com, and lose “should” for good.
Are you going back to work after maternity leave? Or have you already? What tips would you add? Let us know in the comments below.