Most pregnant women look forward to their maternity leave and often have preconceived expectations of what it’ll be like and are eager to start binge watching all the Netflix series they’ve fallen behind on.
The postpartum period however is not exactly the ‘all expenses paid holiday’ one might expect. It’s really a mixed bag, from extreme exhaustion to loving cuddles, mess, mum buns, tantrums and lots of learning! Luckily, the return to work date is far away in the distance and there’s really no need to think about it. Until there is. It’s here, and it’s come around quicker than you could have ever imagined.
Returning to work after maternity leave can bring about a whirlwind of emotions. Whether you’re desperate for some regular adult discussions or are absolutely dreading going back, your time is up and your boss is expecting you in the office (or on zoom) on Monday morning.
So how can we make the transition as smooth as possible? I’ve put together a list of some of the things I’m doing to prepare as well as common emotions one might experience as your return to work creeps closer.
1.Use your KIT days!
Keep in touch days are great for your employer, but I’d argue that they’re even better for you! It’s a fantastic way to keep in the loop of what’s been happening at the office and reduces the chances of you feeling alienated once the time comes to go back. Also, you get full pay for them, which is handy when your SMP drops after 6 weeks!
2. Put pen to paper and put into words what your baby loves
This is a really fun activity that’s sure to make you smile. Think favourite songs, activities, foods, toys etc. You’ll have a good time drafting that up and you may find some comfort in sharing this with whoever will look after your little one once you head back to work. Pro tip: don’t leave this till the last minute or it will feel more like a chore than a fun activity!
3. Write yourself a to-do list
Whether you’re a list-kind-a- gal or not, this could be life changing. This could be the difference between a disastrous first day back and an amazing one. Make sure you include obvious things like packing yourself a snack and not forgetting your oyster card. And if you’ll be working from home, make sure to add important phone numbers to your list like nursery, childminder, nanny!
4. If you’re breastfeeding, what’s the plan?
If you’re still breastfeeding and you don’t plan on stopping before you go back to work, it may be time to start your milk supply stock or at least worth thinking about it. Depending on how long you have until you are due back, pumping once a day may be enough to start building your reserve.
5. Open up
Might sound cliché but talk to your mum friends. Chat about what they’re doing and how they’re dealing with the transition. It really makes all the difference to not feel like you’re alone!
6. Begin the transition early
If you’re planning on putting the little one in nursery, make sure to use up the ‘settling in sessions’ they offer. Equally, if you’ll be relying on friends or family to look after the munchkin, have them do a few trial runs before you go back. I’ll of course be using the brilliant creative child care from CocoRio, so I have a creative sitter come regularly for a few hours a week while I’m at home. This gives me a few hours of ‘me time’ and eases my worries as both me and my little one are getting used to him being looked after by someone other than me.
You may be super excited and not worried at all about going back to work, but if you’re like me, you might be feeling really uncertain, and sometimes even upset. It’s ok to feel uneasy about this next step, but if you give yourself the time and tools you need, the transition will hopefully be smooth and pleasant!
Léa Co-founder and Director @CocoRio